Posts Tagged "Christmas"

Opportunity – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Opportunity – Pastor Mark

The Christmas décor is back in the Rubbermaid containers.  The Christmas CD’s are put away for another year.  The poinsettias are dropping their leaves.  We are already two weeks into the New Year.  Before this special parenthesis of time becomes another faded memory, maybe there are decisions you and I need to make.  If we don’t, our deepest dreams may be put on “hold” again for another year.  Plans that need to be put into effect may be in danger of just being “packed away” like they were last year and the year before.

At this “sacred” time of year take some time for yourself.  Sit quietly with your own thoughts.  Read through one of your favorite passages of Scripture.  Let God bring new ideas to your mind – or bring back your dreams.

Paul challenges us to “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16).  There are many applications for this challenge but I believe one of those “opportunities” is this unique time of year.

Make the most of this opportunity before it slip slides away.

 

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Christmas Reality – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Christmas Reality – Pastor Matt

Have you ever met someone who wasn’t “living in reality”?  These are people who are not concerned with important things, but are concerned with superficial and unimportant things.  Usually they are individuals who find themselves in really bad life situations.   We may have actually been those people at times in our lives.

I have a good friend who—a few years ago—found his wife in rehab.  She was abusing alcohol and prescription drugs.  My buddy confided in me that she was making things financially difficult for him, because while she was in rehab, she would shop online for cloths and other things she didn’t need.  In the mean time, my friend was struggling to make rent for their apartment.  He was upset because his wife was focusing on things that were unimportant in the midst of her very important rehabilitation.  For a time, she just wasn’t living in reality.

Jesus says, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the son of Man will give you (John 6:27).”   My friend’s wife was eating food that spoiled.  What she needed was food that never spoiled…Jesus.

Isn’t that how many of us life?  We focus our time and energy on things that are not real.  We focus our time and energy on things that spoil.

The birth of Jesus is our ultimate reality check.  Jesus did not come into this world to help up make more money or improve our golf game.  Jesus came into this world to save us.  Jesus came into this world because—the reality is—we are born children of wrath who are destined for hell.  This is reality: Jesus is the only one who can save us.

We celebrate Christmas, not simply because it’s a time of family and fun, but because it’s the time God’s reality invaded our world to do the one thing we cannot do on our own: save ourselves.  This Christmas I encourage you to focus on the reality of Jesus.  Share with your friends what he means to you.  Reconnect with long lost relatives.  Ask for forgiveness.  Give generously.  Because this is reality: Jesus gave his life for us, and our appropriate response is to live in that reality.

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It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year – Pastor Mark

It was one of the colder days that we’ve had this winter. My wife and I were hurrying from our car to the mall. The parking lot was crowded and there were the normal noises around us – cars, crunching tires, wind… but there was another sound; one that we didn’t recognize.

We tried to spot the source, maybe a cell phone? Nothing. Then we heard it again. I looked around one more time… and then I looked up.

Flying over the busy shoppers and congested traffic was a pair of trumpeter swans. They were calling to each other. These majestic creatures were a brilliant white against the cobalt blue sky. If it hadn’t been so cold we would have watched longer but they were quickly gone and the wind was driving us inside. Their sound and image was only ours for a few seconds but they have become part of our Christmas season this year.

When I think back to their call and their beauty they remind me of an important Christmas principle. Instead of allowing my primary focus to be on what’s around me I must raise my gaze to the bigger picture of Christmas. This will always be the season of giving, and therefore shopping, and it should be! “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him should not be lost, but should have eternal life.” (John 3:16 Phillips)

But Christmas will also always have the element of the supernatural. The angel announcements to Zechariah, Mary and then Joseph aren’t natural; they’re supernatural! And one of my favorite parts of the story – the shepherds, just minding their own flocks, when “an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:8,9)

Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it is also the quiet invasion of the natural by the supernatural. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  Because it is so quiet sometimes it takes a “trumpeter” (or two) to remind me to “Look up!”

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Light – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Jan 2, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Light – Cassi Piper

My kids have recently come up with a new game in the car. Whenever we are about to pass a house lit with Christmas lights they race to see who can yell “lights!” first. Even my toddler gets in on the fun and yells “lights!” with glee every time he sees a festive house or store front.

It seems people have always been drawn to lights. Nearly 500 years ago Martin Luther strolled through a snow-frocked forest and was struck by how peaceful the trees looked when backlit by starlight. He was reminded of God’s faithfulness and His everlasting light in our lives. Wanting to recreate the effect, Luther went home and made specialized holders that he used to place candles on his family’s Christmas tree. Soon candles adorned trees across Germany. And, with the advent of affordable strings of electric lights in the early 1920’s, people across the world now share in Luther’s experience that night.

Today though it seems we are over-saturated with light and we easily lose sight of its symbolic significance in our lives. We have lights in our homes, on our cars and on our streets. We even carry light in our pockets on our cell phones. Light to us is a given, not a cherished entity. We even scorn it when our neighbor’s lights keep us awake at night!

When God created the world the first thing He made was light. Though that light still remains, man’s soul has been darkened by sin. Lost in that darkness it took the humble birth of God’s son, Jesus, to provide the way to our eternal redemption. There in a manger God gave us the light of the world. And, like the whimsy of a beautifully lit Christmas tree, our weathered souls are inherently drawn to the life saving grace of Jesus.

With all the amenities our modern age affords it is easy to become overwhelmed by the details of carrying out the holidays rather than reflecting on the great saving work God began to accomplish through the birth of His son. It is my prayer that in the midst of family, traditions and lights that we will allow ourselves to once again take in the true meaning of Christmas:

[Jesus] who, being in very nature with God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And, being found in appearance as a man, humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and in every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.    Philippians 2:6-11 (NIV)

Merry CHRISTmas!

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Homeless at Christmas – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Dec 17, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Homeless at Christmas – Pastor Mark

This year we have a chance to experience one of the original elements of Christmas – Homelessness.  Mary and Joseph were basically homeless when Jesus was born.  Yes, they had a place back in Nazareth, but on that holy night… they had nothing.  And on top of that there were no hospitals with delivery rooms; and this was Mary’s first child.  Very few of us have ever experienced those feelings of helplessness, loneliness and vulnerability that are part of not having a place to sleep and no protected place to spend the night, nor do we know people who have.

But this Sunday we have an opportunity to change that.  We will be ministering to people who deal with homelessness on a regular basis.  First Covenant Church of Minneapolis daily provides shelter and a hot meal for up to 50 adults during the colder months of the year.  Through one of Janelle’s connections, Immanuel is signed up to provide the meal this Sunday, December 16th.  We will be preparing and serving the meal, engaging the homeless in conversation and members of the worship team are providing some Christmas music.  This has the potential to be a significant experience – both for us and for the ones we serve.

You are invited to join us!  If you are interested simply contact Tami, Janelle, Pastor Matt, or myself.  We will give you more details.

 

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