Well, we’ve waited for it. Anticipated it. Knew it would be here eventually. But this just isn’t right. How can we go from cold and snow to a predicted high of plus 8 this afternoon to a possible low of minus 9 overnight? From winter to spring to winter in the space of 24 hours? Life in Ottawa, I guess! I just wish the snow would stick around. I guess I’m just that kind of guy – let winter be winter and let December have snow. Let it “look like Christmas”.
And that brings us back to the Christmas versus Advent argument. Advent – the four weeks before Christmas – is supposed to be a time of preparation for the Christ event – a time of watching, of waiting, and of longing. It is not yet time to celebrate . . . Christmas. But we (in secular North America) have jumped right to the busy celebration. Instead of anticipating the Christ at Christmas, we anticipate the next gathering and the next party and the next gift (and want the greatest gift of 2021 to be the end of the COVID restrictions). May we – the people of God – take this time to rediscover the path to manger . . . to God with us.
Our Advent series is focusing on those who were Lost and Found. Two Sundays ago we looked at Gabriel giving Direction; yesterday we saw the not-so-wise men becoming Lost; next Sunday we join with 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 we were with the magi – the not-so-wise men who sought out the new King of the Jews. You remember (from Sunday School or from previous Advent and Christmas messages) that the Magi were teachers . . . instructors . . . astrologers . . . from a tribe of priests in Persia. As they watched the sky they noticed a brilliant star. Something out of the ordinary. Something out of place. And they decided to investigate, and so “followed that star where’er it went”. And it led them. Until they stopped following it.
And that can happen to us as well. We follow Jesus . . . until we decide to stop following Him. Oh, maybe we think that we are following, but get turned about because we take our eyes off of Him, just like the Magi who took their eyes off of the star. Wisdom – following God’s leading – keeps us on the right path. Wisdom returns us to the path when we have become distracted.
You can “revisit” our service . . . it can be seen on our Facebook page (click here) and on our YouTube channel (click here). Watch . . . be challenged . . . be blessed. The message transcript is available on our web site (click here).
We celebrated a Christmas Carol sing/Night of Christmas Music with stories, special song, and (of course!) carols last night. Some were able to be with us “live” in the sanctuary; others joined us on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. It was a great time! Re-watch the service on Facebook (click here) or on YouTube (click here). Unfortunately, we did not get any pictures of the event.
Christmas music . . . Christmas songs . . . Christmas carols . . . the Advent Conspiracy has created a Spotify play list . . . click here and enjoy!
Tradition holds that next Sunday . . . the Third Sunday of Advent . . . represents joy. The candle lit is also known as Shepherd’s Candle. To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, unimportant people like them, too. In our series – Lost and Found – we will look at the shepherds and their visit by the angels and their visit to the cradle in Bethlehem – and their Surprise Find.
Join us in our service this Sunday morning at 11:00. While some people are still hesitant to be with other people inside a building for an extended period of time, and while our services will continue to be streamed on Facebook (click here) and on YouTube (click here), we can properly social distance in our sanctuary as we meet (be sure to have a vaccination certificate handy). If you prefer to join us on-line, be sure to drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know that you are with us!
I am looking forward to this year’s Christmas Eve Candlelight service. Last year we pre-recorded the service for viewing on our Facebook page and YouTube channels. This year we will be able to meet together “live”, looking at the Christmas story together in song and in Word. Join us at 7:00pm, either in the sanctuary or on-line. May you find richness in Jesus this Christmas season.
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. If you are behind you can still “catch up” – today’s reading includes Luke’s record of the Beatitudes and rules for kingdom living (among other things!).
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.
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: please e-mail the church for log-on information. Please feel free to join us as we unite our hearts to meet with God (and He with us).
Don’t forget that 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 (email@example.com) 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. Donations for 2021 tax receipts must be received by December 31.
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.
Advent: Lost and Found
- 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