And so it begins. Advent. Our “countdown to Christmas” (as opposed to a “countdown to Christmas festivities”). To the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent (as opposed to the anticipation of gift opening that begins with a calendar filled with cheap chocolate). Advent symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and congregation as we affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power.
Over the next four Sundays our Advent series will focus on those who were Lost and Found. We’ll look at Gabriel giving Direction; at the not-so-wise men becoming Lost; and at the shepherds and their Surprise Find . . . then our District Superintendent will be with us (we’ll be Visited). Our Christmas Eve service will look at our relationship with the Babe in the manger – that we’ve been Found.
Yesterday Matt shared a pre-Advent message reminding us that our walk to Christmas can be A Balancing Act. I don’t have the transcript of his message yet, so it has not been posted to our web site. However, the service can be seen on our Facebook page (click here) and on our YouTube channel (click here). Watch . . . and be challenged and blessed.
This coming Sunday we’ll look at the angel Gabriel’s visits . . . to Mary, primarily, announcing the promise of the birth to come . . . but also to Zacharias, announcing a different miraculous birth. Join us at 11:00 as we begin our preparation for celebrating the birth of the Holy Child and see Direction.
Do join us as we gather. I realize that some people are still hesitant to be with other people inside a building for an extended period of time. That’s OK. Our services will continue to be streamed on Facebook (click here) and on YouTube (click here). If you join us on-line be sure to drop a note to email@example.com and let us know that you are with us! But as you feel more comfortable, join those who are still social distancing (and have a vaccination certificate handy) while being actually together.
Each year during Advent I suggest a reading schedule from the Bible that we can follow together as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of the Christ-Child. This year rather than just looking at the passages that talk about the birth of Christ, let’s look at His life, reading through the book of Luke, one chapter a day beginning December 1: the manger to the cross – and beyond. November 28 read John 1:1-14; November 29 read Matthew 1; and November 30 read Matthew 2.
As I said last week, we haven’t planned a Festive Fellowship this year, even though restaurants are allowing more “guests”. And we are still being careful about Christmas gatherings. However, we are going to hold a Christmas Carol sing/Night of Christmas Music, with special song – and (of course!) carols – on December 5 at 7:00 pm. All who are comfortable are welcome to join the worship team in the sanctuary. The service will also be streamed on line.
While I think that it’s a bit early for Christmas music (by a few days) I know that there are those who disagree . . . so for those who do (and are, perhaps, already listening), may I suggest this Spotify play list (click here), created by the Advent Conspiracy.
You might also want to think about a reverse advent calendar. Instead of opening a door to take a treat [mmm, Lindt chocolate!], place a non-perishable food item in a basket each day of Advent and at the end of Advent take the basket to a food bank. Or come up with your own unique idea to make Christmas more about compassionate giving than receiving.
We will meet for our “Discussion of Biblical Proportions” tomorrow evening. We are looking at what can be considered Misunderstood Verses in the Bible. Sometimes these verses are taken out of context. Sometimes we don’t realize the context of the verses. Sometimes we decide in our minds how these verses should be interpreted based on what we think or believe. Tomorrow we’ll look at 2 Chronicles 7:14 – a verse appropriated by . . . well, we’ll talk about it. We meet at 7:30; E-mail the church office for log-in information.
Prayer is an integral part of the life of the church . . . I’d go so far as to say that it’s our life-blood as we search for God’s direction and power as a congregation. We continue to meet Wednesday evenings for a time of prayer together through ZOOM: E-mail the church office for log-in information. Please feel free to join us as we unite our hearts to meet with God (and He with us).
Mark your calendar: JCL (Jesus Christ Living) will share a musical “concert” leading in music and worship the evening of January 9 – again, the sanctuary will be open for those who feel comfortable gathering, and the service will be streamed on our Facebook site and our YouTube channel.
As you give . . . thank you for supporting the work of your church locally and internationally. We continue to receive our tithes and offerings through e-transfer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and through the Canada Helps web site (click here); offerings given in the offering plate (which is on the back table for those who wish to use their regular tithe envelopes) are deposited every second week.
The overall theme of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is Compassion as a Lifestyle. Jesus said whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me [Matthew 25:40, NIV]. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada gives many opportunities to compassionate involvement, including providing a “compassionate giving catalogue” for Christmas.
Print copies are available; an on-line catalogue can be found by clicking here. The MacMillan family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations can be made in Pastor Al’s memory to NCMC.
And our own compassionate ministries commitment: each November we receive a special offering for Eliezer Suarez, who was left an orphan when his parents were killed when Cubana de Aviación Flight 972 crashed in May of 2018. We as a church have committed to support him until he reaches 18 years old (3 more years). We also support children through NCMC sponsorship.
I don’t want to take over our Musings newsletter and make it my own. However, I again point out that I am part of the effort to raise money for men’s health – I do this in honour of Cindy’s father, who passed away of cancer at the age of 42. Click here if you wish to support me in Movember (thanks to those who have). There are many other good causes to give to outside of the church as well, and if you let me know that you are raising money for a cause I’ll include it, too.
Our District SDMI (Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International) has given our church a subscription to Right Now Media – said to be the world’s largest library of video-driven Bible study resources (click here to go to the web site and explore). This resource can be used for your personal devotional time . . . and we will be using it in some of our studies in the days ahead.
Click here to register to use the site; let me know if you give permission for me to put you on their sign-up/mailing list.
Advent: Lost and Found
- Nov 28 Direction – Gabriel
- Dec 5 Lost – the Not-so-Wise Men
- Dec 12 Surprise Find – the Shepherds
- Dec 19 Visited – our District Superintendent shares
- Dec 24 Christmas Eve: Found – by Jesus
- Dec 26 Reflections . . . the year past
- Jan 2 Interlude: Matt sharing
- Jan 9 Winter Series: More from the Mount – Directives for Christian Living