the view from the pew (holy cross) 12-1-19

Sunday 10:45 service, Pastor Perryman preaching, Pastor McClean offering Communion.

We sang the following hymns …

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (opening)

Behold, a Branch is Growing” (sermon)

What Hope! An Eden Prophesied” (offering)

Savior of the Nations Come” (communion)

Jesus Came, the Heavens Adoring” (communion)

Wake, Awake, For Night is Flying

Hark the Glad Sound” (closing)

Thank you, Paul.

Pastor led the service with invoking The Triune God into our hearts. This was followed by lighting the first advent candle, the one for ‘hope’. Hope reminds us that He will keep promises He made throughout the centuries. We then prayed for His Church on Earth, that it achieve solidarity, bring all Christians together as one to love each other and treat all with His love. We also prayed for members of our church, for those who protect us and for leaders at the local, state and national levels. We confessed our sins and were absolved of our miserable sins which hurt ourselves and others. Our youth director, Brandon, led a  children’s message. He brought ‘presents’ up to the front and opened them while talking about how we make ’empty promises’. Every present was preceded by a statement how we tell others what we aim to do and when opened we find it is empty. A present to ‘treat’ others kindly is empty. A promise we never keep. A present to ‘read the Bible daily’ turns up empty and so on. He opened the last present which was ‘God’s keeping His promises for us’ and inside it was a Bible filled with Scripture of how God keeps His promises to us. Good job, Brandon.

We prayed The Lord’s Prayer, recited The Nicene Creed and too Holy Communion as Jesus, the apostles and 200 others did together in the upper room.

Oddly, though, we read only two Scripture readings,

Jeremiah 33:14-16

14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

15 “‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it[a] will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’

and 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13.

9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

No Gospel reading? Hmm.

********************

Sermon: “Looking for Something to Believe In

So this is Christmas, another advent season. Let’s can the term ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. When something is too easy to say it is too easy to forget. Anyhoo, do we even remember this while we’re looking for a parking spot while shopping? Do we remember Jesus while the person ahead in line to pay is rooting in her purse for change or a man using coupons? Why do we get irritated? Is it because Christmas shopping is just something to get done and over with spending money for people we don’t want to buy for, or thinking all gifts must be expensive to prove how much we love someone? Are we really shopping for others or for ourselves by ‘doing good presents’? Bertrand Russel suggests that ‘boredom is a problem’ with humans. Carl Jung says humanity suffers from ‘emptiness’. Victor Frankl claims people ‘are looking for something to die slightly for’. These persons mean that in our natural state we don’t really care much for anything except ourselves. Other people are ‘hard work’, having to please them, saying “I’m sorry” seemingly all the time, and doing things for them when all we want to do is things for ourselves. Only Frankl seems to hold out much hope for us and it isn’t much. I think he suggests that we’re willing to make sacrifices for others as long as it doesn’t inconvenience us too much.

Pastor asked, “What are we looking for?”. When life gets boring is when we turn to outside influences to make it more exciting. This includes shopping but also drinking and drugs, too much time spent with hobbies and persons not our family. Heck, how long have you known your family? All your life and all of theirs. How is it not easy to want to see different faces and go different places without them? But back to Christmas. Does Christmas give us any hope of a more meaningful life? Does Christmas really mean anything past the presents, cheeseballs and perpetual dish washing? Does Christmas hold out any promise for us? For many people, Christmas is A Charlie Brown Christmas tv show, scented candles and John Lennon’s Happy Xmas* song on the radio. A commercial society promises those to us year after year but even Christmas trees get thrown out with the trash every January.

God offers promises songs, strip malls, commercials and decorations can’t keep. God promises us His son to give meaning to our lives despite our sins, issues, disasters and grief. Does He keep His promises? In the Bible there are ~300 promises He makes which have come true. It starts in the garden of Eden where He promises Eve a son who will remover her and Adam’s sins.

Genesis 3:15

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. 

It continues with a promise to Abraham …

Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of Abram
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

King David is included …

2 Samuel 7:12-14
12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands.

God has Isaiah announce to Ahaz …

Isaiah 7:12-16

12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.

God tells Isaiah about Jesus …

Isaiah 11:1-10
The Branch From Jesse
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

In Isaiah, the kingdoms are in total disrepair and as unlikely as it might have seemed at the time, the Savior slipped through sin like a plant in a tree stump.

Through all the promises made and kept by God Christians can be assured He will continue to keep His with us. Despite the aches and pains of everyday living He stands with us and sees us through our days despite the outcomes. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to feel like He is with you as long as you know He is with You. How do we know this? In the great commission, Jesus states …

Matthew 28:16-20

The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This promise began human life in a manger and ended on a cross. The promise which saves us from sin and its death also gives us the love to handle the stresses of the day, especially Christmas time. Jesus is the most common sense human Who ever lived. What might He tell us about the issues listed above? We can plan our day better so we might not need so far from store to store and back and forth to the car. We can empathize with the lady who ran short of change or the guy who doesn’t shop very often. That was us at one time even if long ago. We can ask people what they want rather than thinking the worst believing we need to over buy for them. Maybe they just want something simple but from the heart. Many issues in life can be settled with more ease if we just have the gumption to think things through first. It’s what Jesus did.

 

* If you read the meat of his lyrics, John Lennon does a good job of asking us to look inward to ourselves to see if we are looking outward to others.

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

Happy Xmas, Kyoko
Happy Xmas, JulianSo this is Xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Xmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the youngA very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fearAnd so this is Xmas (war is over)
For weak and for strong (if you want it)
For rich and the poor ones (war is over)
The road is so long (now)
And so happy Xmas (war is over)
For black and for white (if you want it)
For yellow and red ones (war is over)
Let’s stop all the fight (now)A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas (war is over)
And what have we done (if you want it)
Another year over (war is over)
A new one just begun (now)
And so happy Xmas (war is over)
We hope you have fun (if you want it)
The near and the dear one (war is over)
The old and the young (now)

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

War is over, if you want it
War is over now

Happy Xmas

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