Mark 1:1-4 For the final Sunday in our Advent Beginnings series, after exploring Matthew, John and Luke’s birth narratives, we will explore Mark’s birth narrative… but Mark doesn’t have a birth narrative! However, Mark does share good news: “Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God” (1:1). Throughout the birth narratives of the other Gospels, we see each character respond to the good news in different ways. But, all respond by changing their normal routines and reorienting their lives around Jesus. How do you respond this Christmas to the good news that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God? Join us this Sunday as we prepare for Christmas as an entire church family.
Luke 1-2 What do you think of when you think of “good news”? Have you ever wished for the good news of a new start in life, where you could push a reset button and do a clean install? At critical times in Israel’s history, when their world grew oppressive and morally dark, God intervened to subvert the existing order and granted his people a new beginning, a fresh start. But sadly, it never lasted. Luke’s magnificent opening to his gospel (120 verses) gives us a clue that this new beginning will set the stage for the grand climax to Israel’s history and with it, the salvation of the whole world. This will be history’s last new beginning. It is good news that remains forever new and good!
John 1:1-18 Carl Sagan once said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” The Apostle John never met Carl Sagan – but when it comes to God’s love, he was in full agreement! God loved us “from scratch”! Come find out this second Sunday of the Advent season what that means for us and for our families as we look at the beginning of John’s Gospel together.
Matthew 1-2 The four Sundays of Advent begin the church’s annual liturgical calendar. It is a season of longing and hope. We look back and remember Israel’s hope that God would come to save his people. We look forward in our own hope that Jesus will come again. During these four Sundays we will look at how the four gospels begin their story of Jesus in very different ways, beginning this Sunday with Matthew. Can the way Matthew tells the story of Jesus help us make sense of our own story?
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.
John 1:19-34 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory” (1:14). After writing the most astounding good news to ever be written “the Word became flesh,” why does John then say, “and we beheld his glory?” Why didn’t John say something like, “and we received the gift of eternal life?” Or, why didn’t John say something like, “and God and humanity were reconciled?” Why does John say, “and we beheld his glory?” Come Sunday as we conclude our Advent series discussing this important phrase in John’s prologue.
John 1:14-18 Before time and space began, God was already as a community of perfect Love: Father, Son and Spirit, fully present to one another. Out of the generosity of this great love, God through the Word, created a cosmos to experience his presence. In the fullness of time he sent his beloved, his One and Only, into the world, into space and time. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He did not abhor the Virgin’s womb, but dwelt there for nine months. In the man Jesus Christ, God was present to his people in love. God drew near: his One and Only has made him known.
John 1:6-13 Like a musical overture to a symphony, the prologue to John’s gospel introduces the major themes of his work — the pre-existent Word, light, life, witness, darkness, rejection, believing, birth, glory. It is poetic — prose, dense with layers of meaning, ambiguity and especially surprise. After we are initially captivated and seized by awe with John’s exalted view of the the Word — preexistent, creator of all things, equal with God (John 1:1-5) — we can’t help but wonder, How will the Word make its grand entrance on planet earth? What kind of reception will the Word receive? What impact will it have in a world shrouded in darkness? The answers John gives are not what we would expect, but equip us with realistic expectations and tools for how to spread God’s light and love in a hostile world.
John 1:1-5 How one begins a story says a lot about what that story will be about. In his gospel, John begins with the Word who ‘was’ before anything else came into being. Whose greatness is matched only by His love. And who is powerful enough to ensure that the Darkness will not overcome the Light and that Death will ultimately be defeated by Life. Come join us this Sunday as we begin our Advent series walking though John’s introduction to the story of the One who was both fully God and fully man, the Word who became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
Matt 2:13-23 For God so loved the world, he sent his son… into the harsh reality of a fallen, dark, violent and suffering world. In the incarnation, we see the unbelievable depth of God’s extravagant love. He so extravagantly loves us that he enters into our reality in all of our pain and struggles and sorrows. He lives our reality which means we can trust him when he will eventually grow up and teach us. He really is the only hope “far as the curse is found.”