Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Advent 3: Relationship, Social Psychology, and Shepherds

A Universe of Promise: From Creation to its full Consummation at the end of all things!  Our Advent series has been a wonderful adventure of looking deeper into the narrative of Luke 2.  Who were these characters (Caesar, Angels, Shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus) and why do they matter?

We looked at Caesar and the political world of Jesus birth, a tale of two kingdoms.  We looked at the angels bursting on the scene in brilliance and then ‘poof’ they return to heaven.  Why such limited glimpses of God’s glory throughout the unfolding of God’s story and why so much waiting for God’s people throughout history for his Kingdom to come in all of its fullness?  And this week we look at the shepherds.  Who were they at Jesus birth?  High society class or low?  Older men or children/teenagers?  Boys or girls?  Why could that matter?

Come Sunday ready to worship our Savior Jesus!  “For to the shepherds (us) this Savior has been born” – to ordinary, common, everyday, ‘least of these persons’… just like us – like me, like you!  And that is good news!

This Sunday, we will plan to squeeze in a Christmas program, Advent Candle reading, Jesse Tree teaching, Communion, and a briefer than ‘normal’ message.  Sounds like a very full time of joy!  Come and worship.

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Mark


Advent 2: Beauty, Arts and Angels

A Universe of Promise?  That’s right.  We live in a universe of promise.  If that is the case, where is the fulfilment of promise?  This world is filled with broken promises.  Promises are made but often not kept.  Many promises seem never to be fulfilled.

How ought we to understand God’s promise given at Jesus birth: “To you a Savior has been born.”  The people of God for hundreds of years were waiting for the fulfilment of the promises given to Isaiah.  They still hoped but didn’t know if they would ever see its fulfilment.

For us today the promise of God that a Savior was to be born has been fulfilled in Jesus.  Yet, everything is not well.  We do not see the kingdom of God established in all of its fullness.  There is a phrase in Biblical Theology ‘already, but not yet.’  It describes the tension we live in today between our Savior Jesus being born, finishing the work of redemption, and ushering in God’s Kingdom, yet, this ‘Kingdom come’ seems incomplete.

How are we to understand this in the midst of the brokenness of everyday 21st century life on earth?  Hmmm… Maybe the Angels can help us understand.  Maybe Jesus name of Immanuel can help us understand.  Maybe the hope, joy, and peace that has been an essential expression of the Christian Church throughout history while in the midst of deep longing can help us understand.  See you Sunday.

We will read further into Luke Chapter 2:8-14 for Sunday’s message.  It seems like glimpses of God’s glory are brief and fleeting.  Kinda like the angel appearances in Scripture.  Here one moment in a flash of brilliance and good news – and then poof, silence.  Crickets.  Lots more about that on Sunday… God’s Peace and Good Will be with you today.

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

A Universe of Promise: Justice, Political Economy and Caesar.

Its here – Advent 2018!  As we begin our Advent journey be aware of the use of your time and the strength of your commitments.  Be intentional with the spirit of the season by avoiding the rush of activities, the hustle and bustle of our commercial culture, and the over scheduling of events.  Carve out intentional time with God in regular Sunday worship, daily reflection in Word and prayer, meaningful connection with those closest to you, and seek opportunities to bless some others.  Or what will almost certainly happen is your life will be swallowed up with other things and the holidays pass by with more regret than joy, more fatigue than rest, more anxiety than peace.  When it comes to the Christmas season – less is more.

With that mini sermon (word of wisdom) in mind, our focus for Advent will be on Luke 2.  We will walk through this epic Christmas story with eyes on different characters.  Each of our five Advent worship experiences will weekly focus on Caesar (Political Economy and Justice), Angels (Beauty and the Arts), Shepherds (Family and Relationships), Mary and Joseph (Listening and Faith) and Jesus (The Reason for it All).

For this Sunday, Advent 1 – December 2nd, we will take a look at the rulers of zero AD: Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, and Herod the Great.  Why does Luke even mention these people?  Could it be that Luke is setting up a ‘Tale of Two Kingdoms’?  Luke is a very detailed writer and includes names and places for a definite reason.  It probably has something to do with the main themes of his Gospel: The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (and save what was lost..). and Today, a Savior is born to you, he is Christ the Lord! 

See you Sunday!
Pastor Mark

Hike to the Star this coming Saturday, December 1st, meet at church at 5:30pm!

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Give Thanks! How to Work Through A Tryptophan Hangover!

How do you get over a tryptophan ‘hangover’?  GIVE THANKS!  Its a bit ironic that we will be having a Thanksgiving celebration the Sunday after thanksgiving, yet, that is exactly what we are going to do.

When it comes to ‘Thanks – – giving’, what is your story?  Out text for Sunday will come from Psalm 107 and Psalm 136.  Over the past two years we have heard the word hesed spoken in different contexts of worship.  Hesed is a Hebrew word to describe God’s love.  Its very hard to translate into one word in English.  Combine love, mercy, kindness, and grace and you have the definition of hesed.

Psalm 107 and 136 recount God’s love for his people.  There is special mention of those who ‘have wandered the wastelands hungry and thirsty’, who ‘are in prison of darkness and suffering’, who ‘are suffering because of their sin’, who ‘are blown and tossed about by the wind and waves,’ who ‘experience plenty and abundance and then the bottom drops out in famine, drought, and sickness.’  In each circumstance God calls on his people to give thanks.  “Give thanks to the God of heaven.”

Sunday, November 25th, we are going to give thanks together as a community for the stories that God has given us.  As you read Psalm 107 and 136, reflect on how God’s hesedintersects with your story.  Maybe you will be led to share something about this in worship Sunday as a witness of and testimony to the great love of God at work in your life.

See you Sunday and before then, have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

What Went Wrong and Why Jesus Christ Matters

What happened to Eden?  It seems like our relationships and our world is being vandalized. What’s going on?  Why are things the way they are?

The Biblical Worldview from Genesis 1-3 has so far been a beautiful picture of ‘SHALOM,’ the way things are supposed to be.  God bringing order out of chaos.  The goodness of gracious boundaries that all support the flourishing of life.  The beauty of right relationships with God and human interactions of male and female, family life and community.  So why the wrecking ball that seems to be tearing our world and our families apart?

The Biblical Worldview from Scripture helps us understand this.  The disobedience of our first parents brought into the world a curse that extends to everything and to everyone.  The ramifications of human sin has infected everything.  And today, as with everyday since the fall of humanity, we reap the fruits.

What do we do about this?  What’s the cure?

Actually, there isn’t anything we can do.  When it comes to salvation – the redeeming and claiming of what is now broken and affected by sin begins with God.  He initiates and then invites us into his reclaiming of all things. That’s right – invited to join him in all the ways that God’s love transforms our lives and the lives of those around us.

Genesis three explains the reality we live in perfectly.  A broken world in need of redemption and reclaiming.  The questions that God asks in Genesis three are the same questions God is asking of us today, “Where are you and who told you that you were naked?”  Jesus asks similar questions throughout his ministry, “Who do you say that I am?  What is it you want to do for me?  Do you love me?”  The Biblical Worldview goes a long ways in helping us answer these questions.

Sunday we will celebrate communion.  Read the text of Genesis three for Sunday preparation.  See you then,

Pastor Mark

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