Blessings on your Advent journey! You know, some folks aren’t even aware there is a season called ‘Advent.’ For them, this season leading up to Christmas is Christmas. We get that message loud and clear everywhere we go, in every store where we shop.
Last week, we celebrated the first Sunday in Advent with the 34th annual Hanging of the Greens. I mean, it looks like Christmas in here, doesn’t it? What are we waiting for? Let’s cut to the chase and start singing “Silent Night” and get that Baby Jesus into the manger where he belongs!
I say this every year, but I’ll say it again: if you really want to express your gratitude, make the focus be who you are thanking, rather than what you are thankful for. You see, the real purpose of thanksgiving is to thank God, period. It’s about God. When we make those long lists of all the things we’re thankful for, it starts to be about us. And that is backwards.
Remember the Pharisee who prayed in the temple? He was loudly proclaiming what he was thankful for. “I thank you that I am better than this tax collector over here…” (Luke 18:9-14, my paraphrase). And yet, it was the other guy, that tax collector in the corner, who went home justified, or ‘made right.’
So this Thanksgiving, give thanks to God. Don’t let the gravy get cold while you force everyone around the table to say what they are most thankful for. Keep the lists short. In fact, that little children’s prayer might be just enough:
Thank you for the world so sweet, Thank you for the food we eat, Thank you for the birds that sing; Thank you, God, for everything. Amen.
There’s nothing quite like baptizing a baby to bring us hope. Thank you, Leah and Sean, for reminding us of the sure and certain hope we claim as followers of Jesus! But hope can be fleeting, and sometimes it seems like the tiniest challenge can shatter our hope.
The church in Thessolonica was facing a challenge like that. They had questions. When was Jesus going to come back? Had they missed it? Were they ‘left behind’ and putting their faith in something that wasn’t really true? Continue reading →
The year is winding down – before the Halloween candy was off the shelf, the Christmas décor was already out. The garden has been put to bed and the lawn mower has given up its place of honor in the garage to make room for the snow blower. Next Saturday is the Fall Bazaar, and today we will be packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. You have less than sixty days left to make good on those New Years resolutions from last January.
But the real sign that time is on the move happened at 2 o’clock this morning, when we switched back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time. I don’t know about you, but I seem to be more aware of the swift passing of time in the Fall than any other season. It’s a bit of a paradox for me: I get all nostalgic, thinking back over fond memories, even as I begin to anticipate the coming of another year’s opportunity. Continue reading →
In a relay race, there is a critical moment when the baton gets passed from one runner to the next. It’s a short window of opportunity – only 20 meters, with a 10-meter acceleration zone for the next runner to get up to speed. And there are lots of ways things can go wrong. Continue reading →
Both the Old and New Testament readings today focus on scripture, the Word of God written on our hearts, delighting our spirits, and leading us to salvation. We are in the third of four Sundays examining Paul’s ‘last will and testament’ of faith in the second letter to Timothy. This week we move on from ‘wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening’ (2:14), to allowing scripture to work on us, to change us and equip us.
Remember that the Bible’s primary purpose is to reveal God to us. But what is the point of that revelation if we do nothing with it? Continue reading →