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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.

Posted by David Brown with

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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A Season of Lent in Prayer

A Season of Lent in Prayer

I came cross this recent reflection on the nature of answered prayer by Virginia Ramey Molenkott in Speech, Silence, Action! She shares:

“Most of the discussion of prayer I had ever heard centered on whether God answers prayer and how we can know that God does. But during the past decade I have come to believe that prayer is not a matter of my calling in an attempt to get God’s attention, but of my finally listening to the call of God, which has been constant, patient, and insistent in my inner being. In relationship to God, I am not the seeker, the initiator, the one who loves more greatly. In prayer, as in the whole salvation story unfolded by Scripture, God is reaching out to me, speaking to me, and it is up to me to learn to be polite enough to pay attention. When I do have something to say to God, I am rendering a response to the divine initiative. So the question of whether or not and how God answers prayer now seem to me bogus questions. God speaks, all right. The big question is do I answer, do I respond, to an invitation that is always open.”

 This moves us more from a discipline or spiritual exercise to an answer of the call. Prayer might simply be something we do each day to offer our insights on the world that God created, rather than pausing to listen with intent to the One who is the Initiator. Maybe this Lenten season we will not be discerning how many prayers God answers for us but how we might answer God’s prayer.

The Psalmist writes: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4)  As we explore what it means to be a member of the body of Christ – the church – may we also discover the call God offers to us to be part of the larger Christian community and the prayer that God is reaching out to us through Jesus Christ – the head of the church!

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