Feeling the political season blahs yet?

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In just a year from now a new president will be inaugurated.   There’ll be lots of pomp and circumstance.   Security will be tight.  News cameras will be everywhere.  Many will be celebrating… a few will be sulking.   It all depends on whether your favorite candidate won or lost!

Jesus’ first day on the job stands in stark contrast to all that fuss.   Just a quiet  morning in his home-town synagogue with a few words read from a dusty scroll.  Very anti-climatic.  Yet His “inauguration day” speech will soon have thousands celebrating, and for good reason:  It’s the best news we could ever receive!

Assuming of course, we’re willing to accept it.

Feeling a bit blah during these dark winter days?  Come and hear the Good News that Jesus brings to Nazareth… and how it brings life to us today.

See you Sunday for “Eat the fat, Drink the wine”   ~ Pastor Mac

The Messiah is Born! The Magi are here!

Are we thrilled, or disturbed?

This Sunday is Epiphany,  the traditional day when we celebrate the visit of the magi to Bethlehem.   The story is a bit different than how we portray it at Christmas:  Matthew says that the Magi visited Jesus at a house, not at the stable where he was born.  Also, Herod’s order to destroy all male children under two years old leads us to believe that Jesus was no longer an infant, but instead already past his first birthday when the Wise Men arrived.

And then comes the question:  Just how many Magi were there, anyways??    :-)

The most extraordinary revelation in this story however, is in the dramatically different responses to Jesus’ presence.   The Magi are everything we expect:  Reverent, Joyous, Worshipful.    But in the very same moment we encounter Paranoia, Fear, & Anger.   Herod is both frightened and furious that Jesus has been born in his neck of the woods.    He sees the Messiah as a serious threat to his agenda and power.

At Christmas we came to see the newborn King.   Should we be coming away thrilled, or disturbed?   Or… should we be both?   What does it mean to us to encounter the Son of God here on the day of Epiphany?

Come and Experience Epiphany!  See you Sunday!  ~ Pastor Mac

Plans for a better 2016…

1a01bc6e-1ff1-4b0e-8fb7-9704b34403ac– Lose a few pounds (a perennial favorite)
– Save more money (also a favorite)
– Get in shape (that’s three repeats in a row!)

Unlike Calvin, most of us have some plans for 2016.   Do better, be smarter, read more…  the list can get extensive.

Here’s a question:  What have you penciled in for your faith in 2016?

Are you like Calvin:  Fully complete?  Or are there things in your life that really need some healing…  maybe areas of your relationship with Jesus that could use some stretching?

God is unchanging from age to age… but our faith was never meant to be frozen in place.  Though changes sometime come slowly, they do indeed arrive when we are purposely pursuing Jesus.

So what do you need God to do in your life this year?  Where do you need His help?  Or… taken another way: What will you do to serve Him more fully in 2016?

If you haven’t given any thought to those question, this Sunday’s the place to start!   Come and learn how we can put Jesus “on our calendars” in the year ahead.

 

See you Sunday!  ~ Pastor Mac

Looking Ahead

c8cedb7d-c527-48eb-821d-c7a1a495b540Ever have someone come and live with you for an extended time?

It gets pretty crazy.   Lots of things change when that happens.  Your whole world is turned upside down.   Routines and relationships shift dramatically.   It’s an experience like none other!

The image above isn’t quite correct for this season. Historians are pretty sure that the Wise Men actually arrived a year or so AFTER Jesus was born in Bethlehem.   By putting their image here, we’re looking ahead of Christmas to something that hasn’t quite happened yet.

But looking ahead is indeed the point of Advent.  We look ahead, waiting…  for this child to come into the world and be the “God With Us”.  Think about that.  Jesus shows up in the middle of our messy lives, coming to establish a relationship with us and very likely upset our routines in a dramatic fashion.

It’s an experience like no other.  And it’s all ours, if we open ourselves up to it. This Sunday we’ll look at a final, dramatic promise, delivered through the prophet Zechariah, of what God has in store for us.   It’s our last moment to prepare… for a coming like no other.

Itinerary

Planning a vacation is loads of fun.  Just sit down with a travel brochure (or your laptop) and pick the things you want to see and experience.   Bam!  There you go!  Each day of your journey takes shape, from breakfast to bedtime.   When you arrive at your destination you’ll have a full schedule of daily adventures all planned out.

Christmas is coming (no kidding, right?).   It’s a huge thing… the Son of God, born on Earth for all to see.   But this is not some random, “gee-whiz” event for lowly shepherds to gawk over.  God had laid out a whole itinerary for His Son’s life, 500 years before Mary uttered those famous words:  “How can this be?!”   Jesus’ life is going to be full of purpose: His Father’s purpose.

You and I are part of Jesus’ itinerary.   So are many other people.   Come this Sunday to discover the who, what, and where of God’s plans for the child in the manger.

 

3rd Sunday of Advent Worship – 10am this Sunday!  

 

Living in Difficult Days

war“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed”

Jesus said these words to the disciples as they stood on Mount Olivet, a beautiful rise overlooking Jerusalem.

The Mount of Olives gave them a fine view of the Temple in Jerusalem, which was the pride and joy of the Jewish people.  Jesus prophesied that the temple would soon lie in ruins, and that this was only the beginning of troubles to come.

Sometimes the people & things we rely on the most are lost in an instant.   We walk away from these moments dazed and confused.  Jesus said such things would happen.  And yet, there’s a promise behind it all.

Come and learn about what Jesus said lies ahead, and what hopes we can hold on to when we hear of “Wars and Rumors of Wars”

“Living in Difficult Days” – This Sunday at 10am

Love Your Enemies

Love Your Enemies:  Is this a Trick, or a Treat?

Lending to people who won’t pay you back.  Repaying evil with kindness.  Loving those who spit at you and gossip about you.  Who does that, anyways?

According to Jesus:  His followers do.  In fact, he specifically commands us to do it.  The problem is: actually loving your enemies is an absurd way to live.

Maybe that’s the point.  Perhaps it’s the absurdity of that lifestyle that makes following Jesus so attractive to outsiders.

Imagine what would happen if a church set aside all other priorities, and began loving (in tangible ways) people who couldn’t give a hill of beans about us?  How would that reverberate within our community?  What would become of us?

Love your enemies is probably the least followed command that Jesus gave to us.   It’s also one on which the core of Christianity rests.  Set this one aside, and the whole thing falls like a house of cards.

Why?

It’ll take a bit to explain that.   Come this Sunday, and we’ll talk about the toughest job you’ll ever love.

See you in worship!   – Pastor Mac

What Do You Fear?

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What do you fear?

Spiders are a popular answer, ditto for snakes.   For my parents generation, fear is all about losing independence.   For people running deep in debt, fear comes in the mailbox each day.  There are plenty of things that cause fear and doubt in our lives.

God shouldn’t be a source of fear, but sometimes we worry nonetheless.   If you came into God’s presence today, would you be fearful about meeting Him?

John told his friends in Ephesus that they could live without fear if they lived lives that were “just like Jesus”.   What does that mean for us?   Come this Sunday and we’ll explore that.

See you in worship!   – Pastor Mac

Litmus Test 

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Remember these things?  

My science teacher Mr Perry introduced our class to them back when we were in the 8th grade.  Litmus paper changes color based on the acidity (or lack of it) in a liquid.  It’s a great test, not only because of the neat color change, but because the results are unmistakable.  Red for acid, blue for base.

The apostle John is just as definitive when he talks about what marks people as followers of Jesus.  They have certain unmistakable traits about them.   They do things that the rest of the world doesn’t do.  These traits define us as Jesus’ disciples.

Sunday we’ll look at the most definitive mark of all:  Loving one another.  Really, really, loving one another.  It’s easier to say than to do (and that’s part of the problem!).

See you in worship!   – Pastor Mac