2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 “This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.” With these words T.S. Eliot ended his poem The Hollow Men. The Thessalonian Christians were very concerned about the end of the world. Paul commended their faith, love and hope as a shining example to others. Their hope was in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, but they were uncertain what that would entail, and therefore anxious. We come to one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament in which Paul seeks to calm their nerves. But he does so in a manner that has generated both wild speculation and baffled confusion.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” So said the early church Father Tertullian to the Roman Emperor in the year 200. In many countries around the world Christians are still being killed for their faith, solely for being Christians. Why does God allow his faithful people to suffer such persecution? And how should Christians live in the face of such persecution and trouble? Last year we looked at Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church. Over the next four weeks we will look at his second letter to the same church, a church that is suffering under persecutions and trials.
Philippians 4:10-23 We spend much of our lives consumed by what we lack and defined by what we don’t have. Not so Paul! Whether he ‘has’ or ‘has not’, Paul lives in the abundance of God’s provision. So as we come to the end of this letter (written from a Roman prison), we too must ask ourselves – are we living in the fullness of God’s abundant supply or the lack of our present needs?
Philippians 4:8-9 Practice makes perfect – we all know that! But just what exactly are we supposed to be practicing? And how do we know? And what kind of ‘Perfect’ should we be aiming for anyways? Come join us as we explore these questions and more, as we continue in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Philippians 4:1-7 Right Thinking leads to Right Living. Having addressed our mindset last week, Paul doesn’t stop there, for there must be an outworking of this Right Thinking. And so this week, we’ll see Paul explore some of the daily choices of our Right Living. What happens when we disagree? How about when life makes us anxious? And what does it look like to stand firm?
Philippians 3:12-21 We are a people of direction and that direction is Upwards! As we begin this new year and jump back into our series in Philippians, we will see Paul instruct us to forget what lies behind and to press on for the prize of the Upward Call of God. But what does that look like in a season when it feels like our entire lives have been placed on hold? And how do our life goals fit into this? The answers to these questions greatly depend on which future we’re living for. Come join us as we press on toward our goal – the Upward Call of God!
In Roman mythology Janus is the god of “beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames, and endings.” (Wikipedia) He is imaged as having two faces, one face looking to the past and one to the future. The ending of 2020 and the beginning of a new year provides an excellent time to pause and reflect, not only looking back and forward, but also looking within and around. Hopefully this Sunday will provide a space to do just that. Since God is in everything, we will pray for the vision to see through the events of our lives and find the God that is with us personally and who loves us beyond what we can imagine. I look forward to “seeing” you all!! John
Matthew 5:8, Luke 2:22-40 This Sunday is our last Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before Christmas! Advent is a time of waiting, of longing, of hoping. What do you find yourself longing for this week before Christmas? Perhaps it is gifts? Perhaps it is a vaccine? Perhaps it is a return to the ordinary? Whatever it is, we all know that waiting is difficult. Especially in a culture expecting instant gratification, waiting is not fun. In our text this week, we meet Simeon and Anna who are waiting, waiting for God to bring salvation and redemption. But, more importantly, these two characters, who demonstrate a purity of heart, show us how to wait well. Are you waiting well this Advent season?
Luke 2:8-20, Matthew 2: 1-12 During the Christmas season, I look forward to singing Christmas carols, giving and receiving gifts, and lots of food in a large family gathering! This year, however, Christmas will look very different for many of us. Perhaps this will cause us to re-examine what we really hunger for during this season. Christmas is, after all, a celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ, and what better time than now to focus on Him, encountering Jesus in a special way in our prayers, devotions, and activities? This Sunday, we are going to meet two groups of people that truly encountered Christ on Christmas. These people sought for Jesus purposefully and with excitement because they were hungry and thirsty for the right thing – a genuine relationship with God. They were transformed by the encounter and were filled with great joy. This Sunday, we’ll visit the story of the shepherds and the Magi on their journey of faith to meet Jesus. See you then!
Luke 1:26-55; Matthew 2 This Sunday we will continue our advent series focusing on four pairs of people in the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. While our world continues to fixate our attention on the rich and powerful, the focus of God’s kingdom is upon the poor and the marginalized, who through their suffering have become humble and hopeful, waiting for the kingdom of God. Last week Bernard spoke on Zechariah and Elizabeth, who received the news from the angel Gabriel that they would bear a son even in their old age. This week Gabriel is sent to Mary and Joseph with even more remarkable news, but it comes with a price few would be willing to pay. Will they hesitate, waver, or ask for sign like Zechariah? Though you already know the answer, their obedience is designed to galvanize our faith and draw us into the wonder of Christ being formed in us.
Luke 1:5-25 Advent is a season of waiting. Israel had been waiting a long time for God to do something, to “rend the heavens and come down.” We also are in a season of waiting: for the vaccine, for the pandemic to be over, to be allowed to gather in person, to travel. Our Advent series this year looks at four pairs of characters: Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, the shepherds and the magi, Simeon and Anna. Some of them had been waiting a long time. We will also consider these characters in conjunction with the beatitudes. Whose is the kingdom of heaven? How should we live in this time of waiting?
John 6:41-71 We finish Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse this week. Jesus goes deeper into what it means to keep coming and keep believing in him. His language is arresting as he talks about ingesting his flesh and blood. The shocking language offends many of his disciples, causing them to turn away. Yet the language he uses speaks to us taking his life into ours so that his life becomes our life, that we may abide with each other and share life together. What an incredible invitation to us – the living God wants to share life with us! And, of course, this text looks forward to our identifying feast, communion. Although it is not the first Sunday of the month, we will take communion together at the end of the service. For those of you at home, I invite you to prepare elements ahead of time which represent the body and blood of Jesus (the elements do not need to be special). For those of you at our live parking lot service, we will serve pre-packaged elements to you.