December 12th News and Notes

Children’s Christmas Program

Our children’s Christmas program will be this Sunday during worship!  The children (and many adults) have been working hard to present the birth of Christ in a new way!  Come and witness the wonder from a new point of view!

Stockings for Seniors

The Mission and Service committee has decided to provide stockings for Seniors, sponsored by the Bowie food pantry.
Your donations can be from a family or completed individually. Simply buy one stocking and fill it with your choice of items, ie, candy, toiletries, Pen and pad, word searches, etc.
Please leave them in the Narthex. They’ll be delivered on Wednesday December 19th.

Christmas Eve Service

We will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve at 7:00 with a Candlelight Nativity service.  A nursery will be available and we will have glow sticks for children and those uncomfortable with candles.

Christmas Eve Readers

We are looking for people to read in our Christmas Eve service.  If you are available and interested, please email ckdeacon@yahoo.com

Adult Sunday School

We are gauging interest in an adult Sunday School.  If you are interested in participating and/or leading, please sign the sheet in the Narthex or sign up here.

Christmas Eve Readers

We are looking for people to read in our Christmas Eve service.  If you are available and interested, please email ckdeacon@yahoo.com

Christmas Open House

The Deacon family is hosting a Christmas Open House at their home (12500 Rockledge Dr) on December 16th from 3:00-6:00.   We would love to celebrate the holidays with you. No need to bring anything, just come and celebrate with us!

Sermons Online

Did you know that our sermons are posted on our website, usually a week after worship?  You can find them here.

Two Week Outlook

Saturday, December 15th

  • Christmas play practice, 9:30-12:30

Sunday, December 16th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Childrens’ Christmas Program

Wenesday, December 19th

  • Choir Practice, 7:30

Sunday, December 23rd

  • Worship, 10:00

Monday, December 24th

  • Candlelight Nativity Service, 7:00

Looking Ahead

  • December 16th, Kids Christmas program
  • December 25th, Christmas
  • January 6th, De-greening the Church
  • January 27th, Annual Meeting
  • April 27th, Christmas in April
  • July 7th-13th 2019, Mars Hill Mission trip
  • July 22nd-26th, Art & Music Camp
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December 17th Advent Devotional

“Do Not Be Afraid”

Anne Knighten

Isaiah 43:1-7

God’s promised punishment had occurred: Jerusalem had been destroyed and the Israelites were in exile. In this dismal time, a prophet arose who wrote words of hope that God had not utterly rejected God’s people but would be their savior, bringing them out of exile and restoring Jerusalem. God continues to uphold God’s portion of the covenant even though God’s people have been unfaithful. God promises that from the east and the west, from all the places where the Israelites have been scattered, God will gather them together. To God, Israel is precious, honored, and loved. Because they are God’s people, God knows them and calls them by name. The assurance that God is always there, even during times of crises when hope seems lost, are comforting words in a time of chaos and despair.

Christians can see in this passage the concept of redemption that occurred due to Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. Because of sin, humanity deserved destruction and exile from God’s presence. Christ bore our sins and died in our place out of love for us, because we have been and continue to be precious, honored, and beloved in God’s sight. We should have no fear, for we know that God is with us.

Listen to “You Are Mine” by David Haas. Hear the words of comfort and promise that banish fear, for God loves you and calls you by name.

 Anne Knighten is a Senior in the MDiv-DL program at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. She lives in Redlands, CA with her husband, Scott, and has two adult daughters, Jenn and Celeste.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 16th Advent Devotional

Called to Live Out

Cristine Warring

Isaiah 42:1-9

More than any other time of year, it is Advent and Christmas time that we hear the phrase “the incarnate Christ.” What if … in 2018, with Christ incarnate within us as Christians, this passage in Isaiah was directed at us? What would that look like?

Can it be possible, that we are truly chosen? Not to be favorites and not to be above anyone else – but for the purpose of living out the covenant among the nations as a light, pointing the way to God? Can we wrap our human heads around a divine summoning, a holy grasping, a cosmic creating, and a consecrated appointing?

Our tasks as consecrated ones are not easy. Teaching the way, without crying or shouting. Establishing the way across all the earth. Opening senses that cannot or will not sense the way. Freeing prisoners from chains and cells and bindings.

Sounds a lot like Jesus reading the scroll of Isaiah in Luke 4.

What if … Christmas carries a deeper message than Christ coming to save us?

For this puts all the work on Jesus and leaves us as voyeurs, rather than participants in God’s reconciling and healing work in the world. What if Christ came to save us from our sinful ways and for saving humanity?

Imagine the world today with Christians everywhere gently teaching the ways of Jesus. Carefully untying the bonds that hold people prisoner – with no bruising and no dimming of the divine light within. Imagine … Christ incarnate, within and around us, living out the covenant for the world.

As we prepare for your birth once more, O Christ, may we choose you in return. May our eyes be opened to the spaces between us where you reside. May we together share God’s dream of fulfilled covenant with the world. Amen.

Cristine Warring is the pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – Girard in rural southeast Kansas.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 15th Advent Devotional

Expectations

Melissa Guthrie Loy

Psalm 126

 On the eve or the morning of Christmas, many congregations will shout, “Joy to the World!” Based on Psalm 98, that hymn comes to mind here as the 126th psalm echoes, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.” Hymn writer Isaac Watts thought the Psalms pointed to the New Testament.

Psalm 126 can point us to the anticipated birth of Christ. With the shouts of joy around us and the implied expectations to feel joy during this Advent season, we can claim with our Psalmist that, “those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy.”

Because of the birth of Christ, we can expect restoration. What a beautiful promise found in Christmas. What a beautiful song found in Psalm 126: the Lord did restore the fortunes of Zion. We can lean into the words of this Psalm with the expectation of restoration, even those of us who sow tears.

God of song, may our expectations be inspired by the Psalmist’s song of joy. As joy comes Christmas morning, may we know joy with each new day. May we hold in the light those who don’t feel joy for various reasons this Christmas season. May we all, at the end of the day, come home with shouts of joy because of the Christ who comes into the world. Amen.

Are there individuals who could use your prayers or visits as they long for joy in their lives this time of year? Make time for or hold space for those who don’t seem to be shouting “joy to the world.”

  

Melissa Guthrie Loy is the pastor for Salvage Garden and the Director of Congregational Life for First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), both in Greensboro, NC

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 14th Advent Devotional

Advent Ashes

Manda Truchinski

Malachi 4:1-5

My state has been on fire for quite some time. It has left us with many places that look like the scene prophet Malachi describes. It’s complete destruction.

Everything is gone. The only thing that is left is scorched earth, covered in layers of toxic ash.

Before, when the climate wasn’t so hot and dry for so long, we could manage the fires more easily. We could contain them or direct them to remain in the wild places. There, such scorched destruction can look beautiful – a cleansing fire that is necessary for the rebirth of the ecosystem.

But when the fire is in our homes, schools, and churches, we don’t see the beauty. We only see loss, pain, and grief. This is the part of God’s promises (salvation) that I find most difficult. That we could ever dance with joy on ashes like these.

All my brokenness and cringe-worthy moments are not reasons to celebrate. Even more difficult to imagine is dancing with joy at the loss of things I loved – my family, my achievements, or my reputation.

Malachi doesn’t scrimp on telling us how hard it will be to take part in God’s economy. He doesn’t pull any punches but he doesn’t lie to us either. The new kingdom that is coming will be a difficult change for us. The Christmas promise is that God is with us. And there is new life even in the midst of toxic ash.

Advent is a time to prepare for letting go of the things that hold us back from new life in Christ. This Advent, make a list of all the things that keep you from experiencing the way of Christ. Then burn it.

 

Pastor Manda Truchinski is currently serving Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Jose, CA, a congregation of the ELCA.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 13th Advent Devotional

Do you smell what I smell?

Shawn Reyburn

Malachi 1:10-11

 From out of the midst of the Temple comes the voice of Malachi; an insider, a prophet, and a messenger of God, but what does this teach us about Advent, or about anything. In some ways it seems that God is petty or angry and is being the petulant child. Unwilling to accept the sacrifice of the people. It would seem that the door in which Jeremiah stands to deliver his sermon is meant to be shut and barred as the people are offering weak incense and their second best. Crimes from the past that ended with the death of Abel and the sons of Aaron. In the Psalms we are reminded that God does not desire sacrifice and offerings (40) but a willing heart (51). Perhaps during this busy season of anticipation and lists we might be reminded that God is interested in the condition of our hearts not the decorations in the narthex. Perhaps the incense being offered in verse 11 are the prayers of a faithful remnant, which is waiting in anticipation of a God who keeps promises and will return to embrace the faithful Church, the broken pottery of God’s people. Here right in the middle of Advent perhaps we should take a few minutes and reflect on the condition of our heart, on the sweet smelling or gag inspiring aroma that pours out of our studies, our churches, and our hearts. God has asked time and again for us to be ready; to be expectant for the return of the King. Is something burning?

Holy God, be with our thoughts today. Help us as we begin to feel more pressure during this holiday season to turn our hearts and minds to you. Strengthen us like Malachi to speak the Word which you have given us and to trust that you have our back. We pray for grace to abound in and through us, as we lift our hearts in praise. Amen.

 

R.Shawn Reyburn is a pastor in the PCUSA. He serves the Columbian congregation in LaFayette, NY just south of Syracuse.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 12th Advent Devotional

Wants

Jason Adams

Job 27:12-28

 What do we really want? This year for Christmas, my kids want very specific items. So we’ll so searching and try to find what is on their wish list, and at times, it can be like a wild goose chase. So easily we can fall into thinking of the holiday season as a time to think of all the things we desire. Whether it is a whole stack of books, the newest gadget, or maybe just having the ones we love together for a celebration, what we want seems to be a central focus.

Mines of silver and gold, the bounty of fields, and the riches of this world can be found, one way or another, but wisdom can be harder to come by. What can we really know, except our own needs? To have understanding is to know the God who creates the earth and all that is in it. The things we are searching for are known by the God who created the universe! Any wisdom we might find in this existence then, comes through Christ, who “became for us wisdom from God” (1. Cor. 1:30).

If we desire wisdom, then, we should look to the cross. If we want to know anything, we ought to know Jesus, and in knowing Jesus we would, in faith, know the God of mercy, grace, righteousness, and peace, who desires every good thing for us. Then and only then, might know what it is to have all we truly need.

 

God of Wisdom, teach us to know you more this season, and give us your peace. Amen.

 Pastor Jason Adams serves the people of God at Reformation Lutheran Church (ELCA) in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.