• Peace on Earth to those with whom God is pleased from Luke 2:14
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    Peace on Earth to Those with Whom God Is Pleased

    “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14, NLT) These are the words the host of angels declared to a band of shepherds right after an angel of the Lord announced the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem—the Savior, Christ the Lord. They began with the words, “Glory to God in the highest.” Hundreds of years before this night, God promised to send the Christ, the anointed one who would be the deliverer they needed. The people lived with a sense of hope and expectation. Now, that promise is fulfilled! All heaven is giving God the glory. And, on earth—peace.…

  • Impact

    Receive Christ’s gift of life!

    Historians tell the story about the funeral of Charlemagne. He was the greatest Christian ruler of the early Middle Ages. After Charlemagne’s death, a tremendous funeral procession left his castle for the cathedral at Aix. When the royal casket arrived, with a lot of pomp and circumstance, it was met by the local bishop, who barred the cathedral door. “Who comes?” the Bishop asked, as was the custom. “Charlemagne, Lord and King of the Holy Roman Empire,” proclaimed the Emperor’s proud herald. “Him I know not,” the Bishop replied. “Who comes?” The herald, a bit shaken, replied, “Charles the Great, a good and honest man of the earth.” “Him I…

  • Immanuel God With Us
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    Go, Total Stranger, Go!!

    Sometimes encouragement comes from entirely unexpected sources. A few years ago, four friends and I embarked on a mini-adventure, each running a 5ish-mile leg of the White Rock Marathon relay. Mind you, my visions of the day and the reality of the morning were quite different. While training, I enjoyed either sunny skies or the comforts of a temperature-controlled workout room. I didn’t anticipate shivering outside for two hours in less-than-ideal weather conditions. Standing in the pouring rain waiting for that baton, out of my blue lips came these words (said with emphasis): “This is STUPID. Why did I sign up for this??” I had distant hope that I would…

  • Christmas Bells
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    An Advent Reflection: Why It Hurts at Christmas

    “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”  So begins Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, written in the time of the revolutions. But he could have just as easily been talking about Advent. Christ has already come in the flesh; but he has not yet made all things new. So while it is the best of times—Christ is Lord—it is the worst of times, because He has not yet returned. Many of our great Christmas carols acknowledge this already-but-not-yet state. Isaac Watts wrote, “He comes to make his blessings known far as the curse is found.” Yes, God blesses. But the curse is still found.…

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    Declutter our lives? In advance? As a prerequisite? Really?

    For the second Sunday of Advent, December 8, 2019, the Revised Common Lectionary readings included Matthew 3:1–12. The focus of the passage was on John the Baptizer serving in his God-ordained role as the forerunner of the Messiah. While I listened to the speaker that Sunday, I became increasingly pensive. This is because the homiletician talked at length about the necessity of parishioners “decluttering” their lives in preparation for the advent of the Savior. Indeed, throughout the message, the speaker emphasized God’s children removing whatever was unnecessary, along with cleaning up whatever remained, in their lives. Allegedly, doing so was of utmost importance. Just to clarify, the homiletician did not…

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    Preparing Our Souls for Advent – An Advent Primer

    Anticipating Advent in the midst of the clutter, noise and anxiety of the current cultural pulls is an invitation to shift and prepare our souls for celebrating the coming of Christ—Emmanuel—God with us. The word “advent,” from the Latin adventus (Greek parousia), means “coming” or “arrival.” The Advent Season is focused on the “coming” of Jesus as Messiah (Christ or King). Christian worship, Bible readings, and prayers not only prepare us spiritually for Christmas (His first coming), but also for His eventual second coming. Rich in symbolism, the Advent season allows the church to experience the joy, expectation and complexity surrounding the coming of the Messiah and to ponder its…

  • Heartprints

    Searching for Advent

    On our way to church I asked my children, “What is Advent?” One child said “I don’t know,” and the other, “When we get ready for Christmas.” Part of me felt like a failure as a “Christian mom.” But then I realized, I’ve been searching for Advent since their birth. What is this season for? I came to faith in a modern Christian expression that lacks tradition. So my first Christmas as a mom—I had no clue what spiritual traditions to share with my children. I turned to my information resource—the internet. And therein I found hundreds of ideas on Advent calendars and Christmas season activities. Bake sugar cookies. Read…

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    Steps to a Calmer, More Christ-Focused Advent

    The word ‘advent’ comes from ‘ad’ meaning ‘to’ and from ‘vent,’ a form of a Latin word meaning ‘coming.’ Advent is the season when Christians look back on the first advent, or coming, of Messiah, and we look forward to the second advent—his return. New Year’s Day in the church year, which follows the life and ministry of our Lord, begins this year on December 1—the day many Christians count as the first day of Advent. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, a lot of churches observe Advent as a season of expectant waiting and the preparation of our hearts. Two millennia ago as Israel awaited the Messiah,…

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    Advent: Hope in the Darkness

    “Advent” means arrival. This season looks ahead to Christmas, the miracle of God’s entrance into our world. We anticipate the baby born to die to redeem us from our sin. Although Jesus arrived in a broken world marked by rebellion, division, and sorrow, the Jews found hope in a wealth of prophecies that the promised Messiah was indeed coming to deliver them from the darkness. The gloom will be dispelled for those who were anxious. In earlier times he humiliated the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali; but now he brings honor to the way of the sea, the region beyond the Jordan, and Galilee of the nations.…

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    It’s the Most ???? Time of the Year

    The holidays aren't always all they are cracked up to be. Before you change my moniker to ‘Ebenezer’ or start singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” hear me out.   I love the holidays. While I’ve disciplined myself to not pull out the trees and tinsel pre-Thanksgiving, I have been known to bust out Bing Crosby the day after Halloween. The wonder of the season is far from lost on me. I love the turkey, the football, the lights, the gifts, the music, the parties, the weather, the décor. I still get giddy on Christmas morning and try to soak up every bit of magic the season has to offer. And,…