Friday, December 9, 2016

Advent 13

Today seems to be a good time to "reach out", as our Advent Calendar reminds us.  While the Bible verse at Genesis 31:49(b) states, "The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other", it's definitely not said between friends or people who want to ensure your safety.  This is said between Laban and Jacob, and basically drew the line in the sand between them - they made an agreement, and then parted, hoping to never see one another again, but requesting that the Lord ensure the agreement would stand the test of time. 

So, the advice to "reach out" here may be indicating it's time to put aside grudges, forgive someone, let God heal old hurts and reach out a hand.  Think about it.  And don't take the quote out of context as so many do to be something positive - it wasn't positive when it was said.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advent 12

The advice today is to Listen Carefully.  We're always told the story of Jesus around this time of year.  Today, I want you to focus on the one who came to make straight the path:

Today, read the story of the announcement to Zechariah...

Dedication to Theophilus
From the Book of Luke, Chapter 1
1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

8 Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Advent 11

A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come into his presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he that made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him, bless his name.
5 For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

So today, make a joyful noise!  Here's an example:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent 10

Today's message is to "Give in Secret", with the hint found in Proverbs 19:6:  "Many seek the favor of the generous, and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts."

Think about what a gift is - maybe we can look at the greatest Giver of Gifts:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent 9

"Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (Romans 13:11-14)

Today's advice is to "Get Up Early".  So, whenever you get up, make a plan for the day, and ask yourself, "Are you ready for the Messiah?"  I had someone ask me that, as opposed to the rather more common, "Are you ready for Christmas?"  I really like the change the one word can make in your whole attitude.  I plan to adopt the question for my own.

Are you ready for the Messiah?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent 8

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  (John 1:6-9)

Today's reflection at church had some interesting questions for us to think about:

What are the edges of your life that need your attention to really start growing?

What are the parts of you that feel unfinished and vulnerable, that you are afraid to let out into the light?

Did you ever think that you might need the fierce storms of your life?

We are told by John the Baptist to “bear fruit worthy of repentance.” What does that mean to you? 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Advent 7

Matthew 25:35 says, "[F]or I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

Andy  Grammar is a young man I've watched grow up - his dad, Red Grammar, shared his love of music with his son, along with his love for the world and God's people.  So, the challenge today is to figure out how you can help feed those in your community who are hungry, following Christ's statement a few verses after, in Matthew 25:40:  "‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[g] you did it to me.’"

In Troy, we have the Food Pantry, and plenty of  other opportunities in local food co-ops, and Bountiful Baskets allows you to donate baskets of vegetables and fruit for $19.50.  Join together with friends, and see how you can help.  Wherever you are, take a look for local food pantries, co-ops and programs that help us feed the hungry.  Our sister church in Eureka, St. Michael's and All Angels, has a soup kitchen once a week, with homemade bread made by Rev. Pattiann Bennett.  See if any of the churches in your town need some help with cooking or serving or baking bread.

Don't forget that nothing stops you from inviting people home for dinner as well.

And let's not forget, feeding the hungry can also mean helping to feed their souls - invite them to church with you!  If they enjoy singing, Troy has an All-Church sing once a month - help them get filled with the Spirit.

Feed the Hungry.