Sunday, December 25, 2011

Luke 2:1-20

Combined Worship at 10:00
Isaiah 62:6-12          Psalm 97          Titus 3:4-7          Luke 2:1-20
                  O Come, O Come Emmanuel and rescue captive Israel! That is the opening refrain of a famous Advent hymn. But today is a day when we shift fully from the spirit of Advent to the hope that is ours in Christmas. It is the celebration of the Christ Child! Merry Christmas to you and yours!
If you are able to be with us for worship (I hope you are!) on Christmas morning…we will read the Gospel of Luke chapter two. We will read it, allow it to speak for itself, and cherish every word of the great story.
We have arrived! Our The Road to the Manger took us past the Red Sea, on to the Sea of    Galilee, in and out of Jerusalem, and finally we arrive in the City of David known as Bethlehem. Did you know that the word Bethlehem literally means ‘house of bread?’ I think of that often as we watch Jesus break bread and say, ‘this is my body’ for the literal body of Christ was born in the city of bread.
I hope you will accept one last challenge as we come to the end of our 29 day journey. I would invite you to come together with family, friends, coworkers, fellow students, and share the Gospel of Luke with one another. Read it out loud, share a simple meal with one another, and pray a word of thanksgiving because it is true, a little child shall lead us.
Amen, God bless you all! Merry Christmas!
Be sure to stay tuned as we roll into January and beyond with the Grand Sweep!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Candlelight Worship at 5:00, 7:00, 9:00, 11:00
Psalm 96          Ecclesiastes 3:1-8          James 1:17-18

                  Tonight is the night! We have been waiting and watching. Finally it is here. It is the night of all nights, the night of anticipation, the holy eve that draws us to the edge of the manger. The child is born. And it all happened at just the right time. The kairos time of eternity.
Centuries earlier an unknown poet wrote words that continue to resound through the ages. It is the poem of truth, a word of beauty, a rhyme that has been treasured and memorized by thousands upon thousands.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
Need I say more? I offer just a simple invitation. Read the Word, hear your story within his story, and know this: You, child of God, are dearly loved. In the same way that this is his time…it is also your time.   

Friday, December 23, 2011

Psalm 96

You are correct!  
If you are following the sequence, you know that yesterday and today are inverted.  
It turns out that I really have a difficult time telling when the real Friday arrives.  
Sorry!  In the end, today is Christmas Eve Eve!  Jesus is coming!

Psalm 96          Zephaniah 3:8-13                       Romans 10:5-13

                  Christmas is a time for singing. We shared the carols of the season on Sunday morning and we will sing more on Saturday night. Oh how we love the carols of Christmas! They remind us of Christmas past. They help us restate our faith. And they assist us in recreating the story of the manger.
Our Advent The Road to the Manger has been all about a symbolic journey. It is our desire to recreate, relive, and be renewed by the holy family and all the sacred elements of the manger scene.  The songs help us accomplish that desire.
But here’s is the problem….we always sing the same songs. It really is not a big problem, but the words of Psalm 96 invite us to ‘sing a new song’ that will help us rejoice in the glory of God. It recommends a fresh melody that will honor all of creation, lift the name of the Lord God Almighty, and cause the heavens to rejoice. Can you sing a song like that? Yes, I think you can! In fact, I think we will!
I am sure of it because we are going to sing a new song that declares an old word. It is the word “Glory!”
Glory to god in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Do you recognize that new song? It is the song of the heavenly host, the angels who arrived to praise the Lord in Bethlehem.
Do you think we could sing a new song this season? Whatever words you choose, be sure you sing it with a smile.   

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Romans 13:11-14

Psalm 96          Zephaniah 3:14-20          Romans 13:11-14
  It is a snowy day in Colorado Springs.  But the Wilson community of faith sends warm greetings and blessings to all our friends across the country and around the world.  
Merry Christmas to all!
                  We have talked before about the difference between kairos time and chronos time.  Chronos is the time you see on the face of a clock. It is connected to Chronos from Greek mythology. Chronos is sometimes identified as Father Time. It represents time that is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, and days.
On the other hand, kairos time is not sequential. It is a surprise. It is a moment when something special happens. In Christian theology it is the time when God’s unique propose finds fulfillment.
In the Book of Romans, chapter 13 we find a reference to kairos time.  It is the time when God, through Jesus Christ, will bring salvation near. It is described in chronos time with reference to day and night and the hour that has already come. Have you found that it is easier to understand chronos  better than kairos?
Do you hear the Advent themes in this passage? Arise, wake up, prepare, be ready, watch, for the day of the Lord is near.
How true it is! The day is indeed near. In fact, it is at hand as we speak. It is the day when God will expect us to be ready. We are called to be ready to receive, ready to serve, ready to grow, and ready to know the power of a great and loving God.
So, here is the plan: Watch carefully, wait faithfully, prepare diligently for the Kingdom of God is at hand.  Amen.   

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mark 11:1-11

Wonderful Wednesday meal at 5:30    The Road To The Manger Bible Study 6:15
Luke 1:46b-55          I Samuel 2:1-10           Mark 11:1-11

                  Anytime you head out on a journey you are sure to see some signs along the way. Stop here, turn here, go slower, hurry up, merge right, lane closed, and sometimes there will even be a detour.
Jesus was traveling the road to Jerusalem. He came to the Mount of Olives on the edge of the city. He looked to his disciples and asked them to look for a sign. It was not a road sign or a directional indication. It was the sign of a young colt that had never been ridden.
The colt was a sign because signs give us information about the world around us. They tell us what to do and how to respond. This colt was a sign to everyone who saw it. It was a sign of humility.  It was a symbol of sacrifice. It would become the transportation of the King of Kings, but a different kind of king.
He was a king who did not consider the power of his position to be the key ingredient to his identity. He did not need the big corner office with a window and a fancy chair. He did not need a    stallion or a steed. He would be just fine with a colt because many people of his kingdom did not even have that much.
The people around him recognized his humility. They created a procession and began to honor his name. They began to elevate him by reciting the Psalms. And the crowd became a sign to the rest of the world as they placed branches under the feet of the colt to create a sacred path to the holy city of Jerusalem.
Think with me for a moment. What sign does Jesus represent in your life? And what sign do you offer as an indication of your dedication? Christmas is coming; we are watching and waiting for the Christ child to be born. We know that our actions are a symbolic gesture. But we also know that every sign has value. Our task is to watch, wait, and to know the power of God in this moment.
Lord Jesus, bring us a sign…show us the way…let us honor you.   Amen.    

Don't forget to bring a friend to Christmas Eve Worship.  5-7-9-11 at Wilson!   Be sure to worship where you are!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Samuel 1:19-28

         Luke 1:46b-55          I Samuel 1:19-28          Hebrews 8:1-13                    

                 Hannah and Elkanah longed to have a child. Hannah prayed and they were blessed with a son.  They named him Samuel. Both Hannah and Elkanah recognized that the birth of Samuel was a great blessing. In fact, they saw him as a gift from God. In response, the joyful parents somehow knew that they had to rejoice and give thanks to God because the gift had been so great.
So they did something very unusual. They dedicated their son to the service of the Lord and brought him to the priest Eli so he could be raised in the temple. Tomorrow you will read Hannah’s prayer in chapter two to get a feel for the exuberance she had for this life changing decision.
It would be like bringing your first born to the church to be raised by the leadership of the   congregation as a gift to the Lord. It would be unusual today but it was productive for Samuel and for his parents. Samuel grew, learned his priestly trade, and became a great spiritual leader among the people of Israel. He would later be used by God to select the next two kings of Israel and to be a prophet in the land.
I wonder what gift you could bring to the Lord during this season of celebration. Do you have something (likely not your child!) that is so precious to you that your sacrifice would be remarkable to the people of God? Is there something you could give? I am not thinking of finances. I am not even thinking about your time or your specific abilities. I am thinking about your heart.
As we approach the weekend celebrations…would you be willing to give your heart to your God? Would you consecrate yourself to the work of the church and to service in the world? Psalm 51 reminds us that a sacrifice that will please God is a broken and contrite heart.
How’s it going with your gift giving? Would you give your heart today? 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hebrews 9:1-14

Luke 1:46b-55         I Samuel 1:1-18          Hebrews 9:1-14

                  Our destination is getting closer. We will soon be gathering to celebrate a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve and then waking on Christmas morning to open packages and join our family of faith for another worship gathering. It will be a blessed weekend!
But first, we have a task at hand. It is the opportunity to prepare for worship. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be unique worship experiences so preparation calls for a unique method of   getting ready.
In Hebrews 9 we find a wonderful description of the early worship setting for the Hebrew   people. They found freedom from bondage in Egypt and then moved into the wilderness where they wandered for 40 years before arriving at the promised land. The time of wandering was also a time of worship. They were on the road but God was with them all the way.
God gave detailed instructions so they could build the Tabernacle (often called the Tent of Meeting) as a traveling worship center. Ultimately each of the elements of the Tabernacle would be duplicated in the Temple and then in the Synagogue. For now, we are going to think about the Holy of Holies. It is described in Hebrews 9:3 but you can discover much more in Exodus 25-30.
Once a year only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies to perform sacred duties. The priest would pass through the curtain that separated the Most High Place from the outer area. The  curtain was blue and purple with scarlet yarn adornments. It was created of finely made linen with the image of a cherubim woven into the cloth. The curtain was hung on gold hooks that were attached to four posts that were made from the finest acacia wood. The wood was inlaid with gold and the posts were held upright by four silver bases.
Before the priest entered through the curtain there was a ritual of cleansing and preparation.  Nothing that was unclean could enter the sacred space.
We do not approach our worship space in the same way. Our traditions are more informal. We have only one high priest, Jesus himself. And we have no Holy of Holies. But we do have a gift to offer to the world. It is the gift we call the priesthood of all believers. As a believer in Christ, you are a priest and you have a priestly function.
Our function in worship is to be the Holy of Holies where God chooses to reside. As such, we are the sacred temple of God. We are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Because we have a sacred function, we must enter with preparation and with the knowledge that God is present in our lives.
We have been traveling a road together as we make our way to the manger. I invite you to travel as a member of a consecrated priest in the company of other believers. Prepare your heart, wash your hands, confess your sin, repent, and believe…In return, God will bless you richly.    ²