Monthly Archives: November 2013

Pondering Christmas

star over manger

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

I’ve been pondering this verse for a little while now, and what I would give to know all the things Mary pondered about Jesus. First there was the visit by the angel, Gabriel, who broke to her the news of the virgin’s upcoming birth of a son, the long awaited Messiah. Then there was the joyful leaping of the yet to be born John the Baptist from inside of his mother, Elizabeth, upon entering the same room as his womb bound Savior. So far, this is pretty exciting, but what about the unremarkable birth in Bethlehem that followed? There wasn’t even room for Jesus at the inn, so Mary delivered Him in a manger. Ponder that! Certainly, Mary must have wondered why He was not given a more noble birth place or welcoming party. There was no crown, no throne and no gifts until much later when the wise men visited.

Well, it wasn’t long and the shepherds arrived, having been visited by angels, and they were the first to greet the Son of God, wrapped in swaddling clothes. When they saw Jesus, the shepherds told the parents all the angels had said concerning this young Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And it was at that point, we’re told, “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Try and imagine all that Mary had been told and seen up to that point. Amazing!

But how much more amazing is it, from our vantage point two thousand years later, to ponder the full weight of Christmas. What God has done for us is incomprehensible in human terms. Jesus, “who was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, BORN in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) Shall we not treasure such a thing in our hearts?! What could the Lord Jesus Christ have done for you more than He has by coming, except in His return at the next advent? How can you escape from pondering such things?

The season of advent is now upon us once again. Let us not forget to celebrate, treasure and ponder the birth or Him who redeemed us from the sin that cut us off from our Creator. Read the Christmas narratives, sing the Christmas carols that speak of great truths, give of yourself to others as Jesus has given unto you, and use the opportunity of the season to encourage others to ponder. Don’t let Christmas sneak up on and overrun you, rather, treasure up and ponder in your heart the advent of your Savior and Redeemer. Take time to unwrap and appreciate the one Gift most worth pondering.

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Close Doesn’t Count – Acts 26:24-32

Accuracy - Dart hitted the target


What does it mean to be a Christian? Does that depend on the denomination you belong to, the person you’re asking or the period of time you live in? These are not just 21st century questions, but one’s we can spot even in this week’s passage from the first century book of Acts. As we approach the first week of Advent, this Sunday, it is important to contemplate the role of the person and work of Jesus and exactly how widely one can define Christian faith and practice. That’s exactly what we’ll be doing as we draw near to the end of our journey through the book of Acts. These are real life questions with life changing consequences.

Come learn more as we join together Sunday morning for worship, the lighting of the Hope candle and the singing of our first Christmas songs of the season at 10:30. Bring a friend or another family to church with you this week. Everyone is welcome!

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“Giving Thanks” – Psalm 95

heart of worship


We are taking a break from our series on the book of Acts this Sunday to focus on Thanksgiving. I don’t want to spend time debating whether the Pilgrims ate turkey or watch a football game on the first Thanksgiving. I want to consider why it is they were thankful. One of my favorite books is “Of Plymouth Plantation,” a diary of William Bradford. It traces 42 years of Bradford’s life, from Europe to the establishment and operation of the Plymouth Settlement. Our fathers who arrived on the Mayflower knew persecution and adversity like almost no other generation of New Englanders to follow them. Yet, their hearts were filled with thankful worship. Why is that? Don’t we all want some of that?

Well, thankfully, God has shown you and me, in Psalm 95, what warms our hearts to thankful worship. This Sunday we’ll dig into that passage, seeking to discover what it is that Bradford and his Mayflower cohorts knew. Also, take a few moments to add your comments to the growing Wall of Thanksgiving in the fellowship hall (vestry) next to the sanctuary. We have so much to thank God for.

Come grow in God’s grace together on Sunday morning at 10:30 as we worship Him and at 9:15 for Sunday school. Bring a friend or another family to church with you this week. Everyone is welcome!

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“The Promise” – Acts 26:1-23

cross and star sky


We are nearing the end of our journey through the entire book of Acts and arrive this week at the last recorded speech by the Apostle Paul. Paul is not, technically, on trial but offers an astounding defense of the Christian faith. When we started the book of Acts, I suggested that it would stretch and challenge your Christian faith, and this week is no different. Paul is very clear about what the Christian faith is and what it is not. At it’s core, the Christian faith is, according to Paul, is about “the promise.” Exactly what that means may surprise you. We’ll look at four ways in which God provides through the promise and consider what they mean for you and me. If you have a friend who is wondering what the Christian faith is all about or who is trying to figure out how the God we read about in the Old Testament is consistent with the God we read about in Acts and the New Testament, please invite that friend to worship with you this Sunday.

God’s promises are not like yours and mine. God delivers on all His promises and that’s a very good thing for us.

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“First World Problems” – Acts 25:1-27



We live in a world of comfort and ease, and we have much more control over our lives, or at least that illusion, than most of the rest of the world. That can create problems living the Christian faith. John Piper once said, “It is more difficult to be a Christian in America than anywhere else in the world.” Now that statement seems, on it’s face, the opposite of what you might think. But what Piper meant was that we have so much comfort and ease that we aren’t terribly motivated to be as faithful in following Christ. Our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church cling to Jesus because He is all they have. We cling to so many other things, making them the gods of our lives.

This week, we’re going to look at obstacles to faithfully following Jesus, using the examples we find in our passage this week from the book of Acts. This Sunday is, appropriately, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, so we’ll consider the plight of Christians around the world and even spend some time bringing them before the throne of grace in prayer.

Come learn more as we join together Sunday morning for worship at 10:30 and for Sunday School at 9:15. Don’t forget to set your clock back an hour Saturday night. Everyone is welcome!

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