One of the only things that keeps me going some days is the many promises of God. The fact that He promises so much to us reminds me that I can endure seasons of discouragement and know that they won't last forever. Instead, we have a hope that transcends all of these momentary afflictions.
As we end our Christmas series Immanuel, take some time this weekend to join us as we look once again at hope. Our hope isn't a wish or strong desire, it's a quiet confidence that God will fulfill all of his promises to His people.
Every year we end our Christmas Eve service with candles and singing Silent Night. It's tradition, to be sure, but it is also symbolic. As daylight is at it's lowest, we stand with candles flickering in darkness to be beacons of hope and light as we share the hope of Jesus with a dark world. I hope you will join us on Christmas Eve at 6 pm as we gather to celebrate the birth of our Savior, the coming of our King and the arrival of God with us, our Immanuel.
The angels told the shepherds that they bring good news of great joy when they announced the birth of Jesus. This term "good news" is the same notion as "gospel". When we say we are to be "gospel" people, it means we are to be "good news" people. Christmas time reminds us that the birth of Jesus is good news to all people. But why?
Our passage in Isaiah 61:1-4 this week gives us four reasons why the coming of King Jesus is good news for everyone on the planet. I hope you'll join us this weekend as part of our Christmas celebration as we look at how the fact that Jesus has come to be with us is truly good news.
Our Christmas tree in our home is a little different. It's not decorated with lots of glass balls or sparkly tinsel. Our tree is a mishmash of ornaments collected over the years either given to us by dear friends or ones that we picked up on vacation. So, we have ornaments from Disney World and our other travels, ones with Korean words and ones the boys have made in school. But one ornament is always saved for last and it goes on the lowest branch in the back of the tree.
The Christmas nail is hung to remind us that Jesus came as a baby, but he didn't stay a baby. He grew, the Scriptures tell us, and eventually died for our sins. This one gesture reminds us of the true purpose of Christmas. That God so loves his world, that He sent Jesus to die so that we might repent and turn back to Him. This week, we will look at a classic text that is read at Easter, not at Christmas, but we'll see how you can't have one without the other.
Growing up, I was never one of the cool kids (shocker, I know) and I wasn't a jock nor a band geek (again, surprising, no?). I was an outcast. I had my small group of friends, but I wasn't part of the bigger groups like athletics or music. Not that I was picked on, mind you. For the most part, I was ignored. I just shuffled through high school trying to keep under the radar. To be fair, I don't know that I've outgrown that. I still feel like an outcast when I'm around others that I don't know. But there is good news for outcasts like me - Jesus came to give the outcast a home. And the hope of Christmas means that anyone who is an outcast, anyone who feels like an outsider has a home in God's Kingdom. I can't wait to share this message with you this week.
This week we begin our celebration of Advent. Advent is something that is far too mysterious for many of us, especially for those of us who haven't grown up with this a part of our church life. But Advent is a time of preparation for Christians. We prepare for Christmas every year with shopping, decorating, caroling and the like. But Advent invites us to slow down from the hustle of the season and prepare our hearts and souls for the coming of Christ.
The prophet Isaiah had a lot to say about preparing for the coming of the Messiah King and we will explore select writings in that book for our Advent time this year. Join us this Sunday and make worship, both personal and public a part of your Christmas preparations this year. We'll see you Sunday at 10 am as we begin our series "Immanuel".