Did you know that God's promise of WITH-ness didn't start with Christmas? All the way back in Genesis 21, the name Immanuel was alluded to. And the promise runs through the pages of our Old Testament to and through the Prophet Isaiah,
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” — Isaiah 7:14
Immanuel, as quoted by Matthew 1:23 means, God WITH us. The WITH-ness story is what the Bible is about. It is a story of pursuing and redeeming and restoring grace that culminates in two Advents — or comings — of the Christ.
Advent is a season of hope.The word advent means “coming” or “arrival,” and the season is marked by expectation, waiting, anticipation, and longing.
Advent is not just an extension of Christmas—it is a season that links the past, present, and future— letting us share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, to celebrate His birth, and to be on the alert for His second coming.
Advent looks back in celebration at the hope fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s coming AND forward in hopeful and eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when He returns for His people.
In a season often marked by frenzied busyness, Advent is an opportunity to set aside time to prepare our hearts and help us place our focus on a far greater story than our own—the story of God’s redeeming love for our world. God’s story is one of redeeming the hope we lost in our rebellion in a garden. And that HOPE is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This Advent season we will look at four things God WITH Us brings to us over the next four Sundays before Christmas:
And that's not all! We will have our traditional Christmas Eve candlelight service from 4:30-5:30 that will start your evening off with the Christmas Story and beaufiful music. Be sure to make this part of your FAMILY PLANS!
And YES! You heard right! For the first time ever, we are going to offer Christmas Dinner together after the service. For those that wish to stay, the church will provide Turkey and Ham and dessert. Bring your favorite holiday side dish to share and stay for dinner from 6-7:30pm! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND SO WE KNOW HOW MUCH FOOD TO PREPARE! But even if you can't stay for dinner, plan to be at the candlelight service. I know you will be blessed.
Finally, to help you focus on Him throughout the week we have a Devotional and Daily Readings that will be available THIS weekend. Take copies for your family and 1-2 to give to invite someone to join you (and us) on this much needed soul-soaking time celebrating the Savior.
I am praying harder now than ever that our faith family can be a safe space for you to celebrate Christmas in our traditional ways in a world that seems so willing to surrender to the 'new normal.'
PLEASE BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THOSE THE HOLY SPIRIT MAY BE WANTING YOU TO INVITE INTO THESE CHRIST-CENTERED EXPERIENCES.