Monday, December 20, 2010

This Week's Schedule 12/19/2010

No activities this week--Have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday December 26th-
No Sunday School
Christmas Celebration 10 am
Brunch Following
Come celebrate with us the Incarnation of our Lord!

Coming Up
January 2nd 2011-
Return to Regular Schedule

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting for Worship 10:45am
Iglesia Evangelica de Amigos 3:00pm

This week's meditation: God’s Love Coming

Advent 4: Mary the mother of Jesus - The Candle of Joy

God coming to a simple girl and giving her a chance to participate in the divine advent.
Luke 1:26-28; 46-55
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin ?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age ; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the servant servantsof the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His servant; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever."

God providing for her needs and covering any potential shame by speaking also to Joseph telling him to take Mary home as his wife.
Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife ; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son ; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son ; and he called His name Jesus.

God bringing shepherds to honor the new king of the universe and cause wonder to abide in the heart of that simple girl as she raised the Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Great and conquering King, her son, God’s son, Jesus.
Luke 2:8-19
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Our first response to God at work is fear. Always. God is so much bigger than we are, so much more powerful, like Aslan in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe we recognize in our core that God is not safe, but if we know him we know that he is good. But until we really know God all we see is his power and we can doubt his love and goodness. And we are not alone.

Looking through the ages at those who have encountered God we see time after time fainting, falling down, overwhelming fear. It is what Mary felt when the angel came to her to declare God’s plan for her life. Make no mistake, this was not God’s plan for her next year or for the raising of a child over 18 years, this was a plan that would affect the rest of her life. This one moment would dominate her thoughts and meditations as long as she lived.

God’s love was coming into her life, and it would change it forever. But God never comes to give us only a task, only a burden to carry or a load to bear. God comes into our lives bringing joy with the assignment, bringing strength for the journey, bringing himself to be our companion on the way.

When God's Love comes into our lives, we can say "yes" to what it brings, knowing that He has prepared the way before us and will provide the way ahead of us, and trusting that his intention is always for our good; to fill our lives with joy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Week's Schedule 12/12/2010

Tuesday December 14th- Elder's Meeting 6:30pm

Sunday December 19th-
Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting for Worship 10:45am
Iglesia Evangelica de Amigos 3:00pm
Celebramos Navidad

Coming Up-

December 26th Christmas Celebration!
No Sunday School, 10am Worship & Brunch following

This week's meditation: God's Love Prepares the Way

Advent 3: John the Baptist - The Candle of Love

God relieving barrenness of Elizabeth and providing the prophet to cry “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
Luke 1 (selected passages)
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. 8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time." 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

God encouraging Mary and testifying to his faithfulness through Elizabeth's pregnancy.
34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin ?" 35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age ; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 "For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord ; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

God witnessing through John’s jumping in the womb, even before his birth, to Jesus as the Christ.
39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb ; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb ! 43 "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

God speaking through John “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” God preparing those straight paths by preaching through John repentance from sins.
Mark 1
1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"-- 3 "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' " 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

In the unexpected, unforeseen circumstances of our lives, God is going ahead of us to prepare the way. As a girl, Mary never conceived that she would be the mother of the Messiah. The people of Israel never imagined that their Messiah would come in such a humble way. They needed someone to prepare the way for them. God in his love and faithfulness did just that in the person of John the Baptist. Giving fulfillment of years of prayers by his parents; offering hope and encouragement to Mary and testifying even from the womb to God's work; going ahead of Jesus in ministry to the people to prepare the way in their hearts for the Messiah, John acted out God's plan. Rest assured that God is still in the business of preparing the way for each of us. As we face unexpected challenges or receive unexpected blessing we know we can put our faith and trust in God to have gone before us making a way for us. And we may even be the agents through which God prepares the way for others.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekly Schedule 12/5/10

Tuesday December 7th- Women's Group 6:30pm

Wednesday December 8th- Friends Women Fellowship Brunch 9:30am at Millie's

Sunday December 12th-
Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting for Worship 10:45am
Iglesia Evangelica de Amigos 3:00pm

Coming Up-

December 26th Christmas Celebration!
No Sunday School, 10am Worship & Brunch following

This week's meditation: God’s Love Speaking

Advent 2: The old testament prophets - The Candle of Peace

God speaking to his people, giving warnings and promises that a Messiah was coming.
Hebrews 1: 1-3
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

God speaking through the scriptures to give his people encouragement and hope, and to prepare them to reach out to others.
Romans 15: 4-13
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name"; and again he says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people"; and again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him"; and again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope." May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God crying out for repentance and reconciliation, and promising peace; first through Christ, then through us.
2 Corinthians 5:14-
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh ; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature ; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

God has spoken to his people through the prophets, through the scriptures, through the person of Jesus Christ and now every believer carries his message of reconciliation and peace. As believers filled with the Holy Spirit, we are to be God's mouthpieces, his ambassadors, calling out to those around us to be reconciled to God. Whether we carry a positive message about God's good news, or a false message of hypocrisy and personal judgment, as believers we tell the world about who God is everyday. The choice is ours to not only carry his message, but to share it in words and in our actions with those we meet everyday who are hungry and desperate for the message of the gospel of peace.