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Advent Coming

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Advent means “Coming.” It has been a mark of the beginning of the Christian year and the season to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Advent is a time to celebrate that even in the midst of exile, darkness, and despair that “God is with us—Emmanuel.” Advent consists of four Sundays before the 12-day season of Christmas. The colors are purple and/or blue for mourning and repentance. The only exception in some congregations has been the third Sunday known as “Gaudete” (Rejoice Sunday) when a rose or pink colored candle is used. An Advent wreath is a common symbol of this season. One candle is lit each of the weeks up to Christmas Eve when the Christ Candle is lit.

This year we will explore the messages of “How to Find…Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.”  We have become a DIY (Do It Yourself) culture. Our spiritual lives are more than weekend fixer-up projects. There are seldom quick fixes for any of our spiritual conditions. We begin to look for practical ways to engage our faith and to use the spiritual disciplines of prayer, scripture, means of grace, fasting and generous giving to discover the foundations of this season. 

  • Hope is more than wishful thinking.
  • Love is beyond the kindness shared with family or stranger.
  • Joy is the song that sings even in the darkest night.
  • Peace is the tranquil stillness before the God of all creation.

 How do we find these gifts? How do we encounter the living God who seeks to transform our lives by the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ? Come to worship on December 2, December 9, December 16 and December 23 to gain the tools to help you know How to Find. You may also discover that your family, neighbors, or friends might be more open to an invitation to join you in church during this season of the year than any other single time. Take the chance to invite them to come. Invitation cards are available at the Connect Desk for you to mail or drop off to a friend.  Be prepared to learn new ways to be obedient to the power of God with us.

 Praying for an Advent Blessing,

Pastor David

Information on everything happening for Advent and Christmas can be found HERE.

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Disturb Us, Lord

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DISTURB US, LORD

REV. DAVID BROWN

I recently came across a piece of music performed by Larnelle Harris: DISTURB US, LORD by Tony Wood/Lee Black/Dave Clark

 Disturb us, Lord When worldly things delight us and we fail to look above
When we withhold from others though we’ve been given much
If the fire of our first love’s not burning bright as before
Disturb us, Lord
Disturb us, Lord
When we’re not in your Word and we don’t spend time on our knees
When we have a chance but we don’t speak the truth that sets men free
If we don’t worship you with fiery passion anymore
Disturb us, Lord
Sometimes in your great love, You comfort the troubled
But other times in your great love, You trouble the comfortable
Disturb us, Lord
If our lives never touch the lives of those still in the dark
If we don’t live with hearts that break for things that break your heart
In tenderness please lead your church back to your heart once more
Disturb us, Lord
If we ever lose the wonder of the cross that you once bore
Disturb us, Lord
Disturb us, Lord

This prayer has spoken to me in such powerful ways. When we do not cherish the first-love of Jesus. Christ. When our ministries are no longer about us but how we serve others, we know the Lord has moved us from our places of ease to the power of redemptive love. Praying that God will not leave us in apathy or worse contentment. Each day affords the Lord to stir our hearts once again to follow after Christ and to offer the power of the gospel in every aspect of the church and our community. Often it is easy to think that one issue or another issue ‘disturbs’ us, but not enough for action. This prayer seeks the power of the Holy Spirit to stir us in the embrace of the power of the cross. Join me in praying this prayer during the summer. Let’s make it a season that will cause us to discover what is at the heart of God for our community and the mission of Armstrong Chapel.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor David

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Recalling the Acts of the Apostles

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The Book of Acts contains the most dramatic account of the explosive growth of the early Christian communities. It details the outreach to widows and orphans, devotion to prayer and study, and ultimately, the spreading of the Good News story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is clear that the early followers attended worship in the synagogues and Jerusalem Temple. They also shared all things “in common,” suggesting that homes and businesses were the places that day-to-day ministry was experienced.  So, when did we shift from the church being a dynamic community that adapted to the needs of the world in light of the gospel witness?  In the mid-1970’s, my home church sang a chorus that strikes at the cord of this question. “The church is not a building. The church is not a steeple. The church is not a resting place. The church is the people! I am the church, you are the church; we are the church together. All of God’s people, all around the world, yes we’re the church together.” It’s amazing that I recall this simple chorus yet how profound this truth holds for the Christian community today. 

The early circuit riders spread scriptural holiness across the frontier. They were driven to organize small classes of communities that gave birth to the small chapels that dot the landscape. In the last 200 years, we have watched the transformation of society. Horse-riding preachers gave way to automobiles; pony express gave way to daily mail delivery and now, e-mail and instantaneous messaging/Facebook; flat boats and wagons gave way to canal boats, railways and then, thanks to the Wright Brothers, air flight. News reports from travelers gave way to radio and now, television 24-hour news and Internet updates.

Let’s remember that as the early witnesses of the resurrection offered the message of salvation to everyone that would be receptive, we too can join the “Acts of the Apostles” and offer the risen Christ through every element of the ministry at Armstrong Chapel.

Grace and Peace,

David

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