“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” Luke 2:14 (NIV)
One of the most glorious services of our church year is the celebration of Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For many of us the concentration of family traditions around this great day permeates the service itself with great nostalgia and meaning. It is a comforting reminder of God’s faithfulness; that is, despite the year we have had, we still find the fulfilled promise of God come among us in the little baby, Jesus. The events of our lives may rock and shake us, but God is not shaken by them; He remains the same. The birth of Jesus is the beginning of God’s fulfilling of all of His promises to renew this creation and bring us to that place where there will be no more death, no more tears, and no more sin. Continue reading
This past Sunday, December 2nd, we kicked off the season of Advent, joining Mary and Joseph on “The Road to Bethlehem,” the theme of our Advent family gathering. Thanks to all who participated; it was a packed house and a shared time of joy.
We begin the new year with the season of Advent in only a few days! Advent is a fasting season believe it or not, and is a time of examination, preparation and expectation. The church has an ancient tool used to help disciple believers, called the church calendar. Just like our normal calendar we use, that has 12 months in a year, the church has used a calendar for nearly 1500 years that focuses our minds and hearts on Jesus. Each season in our church calendar is usually either a fasting season, like Advent or Lent, or a feasting season like Christmas or Easter. Think of it like a wonderful potluck or buffet dinner. If you were preparing for a huge dinner, you would probably eat a very light meal for lunch. In the same way, as we prepare for the feasting season of Christmas (12 days starting on December 25th), we trim up our meals and prepare for a time of feasting! We remember some of the ancient promises of the coming of the Messiah, as well as, prepare for the second coming of our Lord as King and Judge. Continue reading
‘And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?” “It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!” “It came without packages, boxes or bags!” And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.” “Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”‘ – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Dr. Seuss’ beloved Christmas classic features the humbug Grinch, whose scheme to end Christmas is focused on the gifts, decorations, and food for the holiday. He is convinced that he knows what this special day with its attendant joy and “noise, noise, noise” is all about. But to his surprise, and perhaps that of Seuss’ reader, Christmas “perhaps…means a little bit more.” For Christians in the time of preparation for Christmas, that is, the season of Advent, how do we avoid becoming a grinch in the lives of our families and friends? Continue reading
We all experience a sense of belonging somewhere, whether it is in the church, with friends, or our families. But for so many, the place of belonging can create addictions, brokenness and alienation from others. Indeed, this sense of belonging comes from our separation from God and our inner longing to experience that deep satisfying and enduring love of God who is the source of love itself. As I engage in our culture on a daily basis, I remind myself that others are looking to belong and to be known. Community can become a place where healing and deep soul work can take place, and especially in the context of the redeemed Body of Christ. Continue reading
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Rev 3:20 NIV)
Repeatedly from Genesis to Revelation, Scripture depicts God inviting people to a meal. A meal is an intimate event, one which we tend to share only with those with whom we have a relationship and/or are seeking a deeper connection. This upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is a chance for us to extend the table to those in our oikos, that is, our networks of friends, family, and neighbors with whom God desires us to share His love. Continue reading
From October 25-27th, clergy and laity of the Diocese of Western Anglicans gathered at the Presbyterian Church of the Master in Mission Viejo. Thursday through Friday afternoon was a time for the clergy to gather and be encouraged. On Friday evening, members of the whole diocese joined together in a service of worship, during which Archbishop Foley Beach preached. On Saturday, various workshops were offered to equip the saints, and the event ended with a business meeting on Saturday afternoon. It was whirlwind of a time, but one filled with joy. Our joy was first and foremost based on the remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection for the sake of the world. Additionally, we received joy in hearing how this wonderful message of God’s love is advancing in church as far away as Butte, MT and Tuscon, AZ. God is surely at work and we are blessed to cooperate with Him in His great mission! Continue reading
We’re fast approaching the end of the current liturgical year and the beginning of the new year on December 2nd, the first Sunday of Advent. This Advent let’s join with each other as a church family (young and not-so-young) on “The Road to Bethlehem,” highlighting the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, their participation in the census decreed by Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1-7), and the expectant mother and her Child. Continue reading
InterVarsity’s fall conference is just around the corner, happening Nov.9-11! Every year during the fall, students attend Fall Conference at Catalina Island for a weekend. Fall conference is a space where non- Christians can get to know Jesus and are invited into a relationship with him. Every student that attends Fall Conference moves a step forward in their journey with Jesus. In the first three weeks of school, we met more than 250 students during our new student outreach! A lot of the students do not have a relationship with God. At Fall Conference, we invite these students to explore a relationship with our savior, Jesus Christ. Continue reading
One of the earliest Christian documents that we have after the New Testament is a group of letters written by Ignatius, the bishop of the church in Antioch. Ignatius was arrested by the Romans and sent to Rome to be put to death for his faith sometime in the early 100s. Along the way, Ignatius wrote letters to the churches. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Ignatius wrote about the joy of the church united in worship with their bishop.