Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog

A Bloodline of Grace: Mary

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shepherds-caveFor all of the nostalgia around Christmas for Christians, the story is really quite plain. Sure there were angels that appeared to some shepherds in a nearby field – they sang and then were gone! As for the birth of the King of Kings – a shepherds cave for a birthing space. Jesus ‘cradle’ was most likely a stony hollowed out feeding trough for animals. The Hebrew atmosphere of Jesus world at the time of his birth was very humble. A song that I love about Mary and Jesus birth is a song by Pierce Pettis called, Miriam. There is a great video on youtube called The Nativity, Pierce Pettis, Miriam.  One line in the song says, “No banners were unfurled, when God stepped into the world.” Ain’t that the truth.

The story of Jesus birth is a tale of two Kings: Herod ‘the Great’ and Jesus. They couldn’t be more different. Herod was called the ‘King of the Jews’ and ruled the region ruthlessly and with fearful power. How unlike the rule that Jesus would bring. How ironic that Herod had many palaces and fortresses and yet Joseph and Mary couldn’t even find room at the local Inn of Bethlehem. How ironic that Jesus is born in the shadow of Herod’s man-made mountain fortress called the Herodian. So different from a shepherds cave in the fields. So close yet living world’s apart.

Christmas is a story of something new coming into the world. A new Kingdom is coming into being. And there is a new King in town. How ironic that in a few short years Herod is buried near the place that Jesus is born. What’s left of Herod’s greatness can be seen yet today in its ruins. Yet the Kingdom of God continues to grow.

See you on Christmas Eve for Worship of the newborn King: 4:30pm. Be on time for this one as we will retell and relive the Christmas Story together.

Peace and Good Will to you in the name of Jesus, the newborn King!

Pastor Mark

The Nativity, Pierce Pettis, Miriam
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Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog

Advent: Waiting!

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We’ve been in waiting mode… Advent. A time of waiting. Look at these onlookers (sled dogs) just waiting to pull somebody on a sled. They are waiting for you at the YMCA of the Rockies, near Fraser/Winter Park. They need the exercise.

Our Advent 2016 Message Series: The Genealogy of Matthew: A Bloodline of Grace is filled with grace. Story after story highlighting God’s grace in spite of human sin. Grace is not easy to understand, define, or come to know. It is best experienced.

The root of ‘grace’ is charis in Greek, “I rejoice, I am glad.” Grace is over and above. Grace is undeserved receiving, forgiveness, lavish love. Grace is my daughters and my wife Deone. Grace is my cousin giving us a car after we totaled the family vehicle. Grace is food on the table, a roof over my head, clothes on my body. It’s ripe peaches on top of vanilla ice cream. Its a sunbeam piercing through an overcast sky. A brilliant autumn aspen tree standing against dark pines. Its a lightning bolt that emblazons the stormy night sky. Its the smell in the air after a fresh spring rain. Grace is almost impossible to describe. It is the power behind life, the sustainer of everyday life, and the continual giver of new life. Grace is an infinite gift.

Grace is God’s love in and through Jesus Christ, who lavished grace on us who had in no way earned it and who barely have the ability to receive it. What makes God’s grace so amazing? “That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

“For to us a child is born, unto us a Savior is given.” May you receive the wonderful gift of Jesus.

See you Sunday – AMAZING GRACE!

Pastor Mark ouzel-falls

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog

A Bloodline of Grace: Bathsheba

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This Sunday we continue our series through Matthews genealogy of Jesus. We will take a step back for a moment to look at the structure and whole of the genealogy. And then focus on the mention of King David and the wife of Uriah in Matthew 1:6. We have been focusing on the women mentioned in the genealogy. However, this mention of Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba) leads us to 2 Samuel 11 where David’s decisions take center stage.

Please read 2 Samuel 11 and reflect on these questions: Where does David’s path to sin begin? (2 Sam. 11:1-2) As the story progresses, David moves from one bad decision to another. How does David sin against God, Uriah, and Bathsheba? (Take a look at the 10 commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. How many commands does David break in this single chapter?) David is referred in Scripture as being a ‘man after God’s own heart.’ Really? What message could Matthew have by placing David in prominence in the genealogy and highlighting David’s sin? If you are interested in reading more about David, his actions, and more about Bathsheba, take a look at 2 Samuel 12, 1 Kings 1-2, and Psalm 51. See you Sunday!

(Also: Don’t miss our hike to the star this coming Saturday. We will meet at church at 6:00pm for a short commute and hike to the lit star a little ways up Flagstaff Road.)

Pastor Mark ouzel-falls

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog

A Bloodline of Grace: Rahab

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This Sunday is the 2nd week of Advent – a time of waiting in expectation. Waiting can be difficult. We continue our series on the women mentioned in Matthews genealogy by reflecting on the story of Rahab (Joshua 2, 5:13-6:27, Matthew 1:5, Hebrew 11:30-31, and James 2:25).

Rahab is best known in the Bible for her hiding of the Israelite spies who came to Jericho on a recognizance mission. At great personal risk (her life), Rahab lies to the King about her hiding the spies. She deliberately uses deception to protect the spies.

Rahab is mentioned in Hebrews 11 and in James 2 as one who exercised faith. Hebrews says it was her faith that saved her and her family. James says, “Rahab the prostitute was considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a safe direction.” In preparation for Sunday’s message, read Joshua chapter 2.

Where is there evidence of Rahab’s faith? Where does she speak a profession of faith? What does she say? How is her faith put into action? Is it OK to lie in order to do what you think is right? After all, “do not lie” is one of the 10 commandments. Hmmm… that’s something to think about.

Another question to ponder: The spies are let down to safety outside the city wall by a scarlet thread. When the walls of Jericho fall down, Rahab and her family are rescued by recognition of the scarlet thread hanging over the wall where they were waiting to be rescued. In a way, this scarlet thread is filled with symbolism. As we look at the bloodline of Jesus recorded by Matthew there is a scarlet cord running through it from beginning to end as God weaves his plan of salvation through a messy path of redemption. Much grace in these stories alongside much bloodshed. Matthews genealogy ends with Jesus. How is Jesus the fulfillment of this ‘scarlet cord’ of redemption? Dig deep on this one.

Shalom to you – God’s grace and peace fill you,

Pastor Mark ouzel-falls

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog

A Bloodline of Grace: Tamar

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This Sunday begins Advent Season 2016 – already! Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting. Waiting for what? The simple answer – GOOD NEWS – the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. Every year the church around the world joins together in retelling the greatest story ever told – God’s story!
Beginning Sunday we begin a new message series from the Gospel of Matthew. And the Gospel of Matthew begins with a peculiar genealogy. Why is it peculiar? Matthew intentionally mentions five women. This is very unusual for several reasons. For one, women aren’t mentioned in genealogies of the Ancient Near East. Also, there are many women who could be mentioned but are not mentioned, like Sarah, Rebekah, or Leah for example. What’s going on?

Matthew is writing his Gospel story for a Jewish audience. From the opening words to the ending words, Matthew is proclaiming the Gospel message – beginning already with the genealogy – a gospel of grace! It is for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity, including gentiles, who believe in Jesus.

During Advent, we will explore the women of the genealogy of Jesus. By mentioning these particular women, his Jewish audience is ‘hearing’ something powerful. Jesus bloodline is a bloodline of grace. God carries out his plan of salvation for the world through ordinary, yet extraordinary, sinful people. In spite of the unfaithfulness of God’s people, God remains faithful to his plan of salvation.

After Christmas, we will continue our journey through Matthew to seek to understand and know Jesus better – through his teaching, his life and his death. And in knowing Jesus better, we will know and understand better what God’s will is for our life. We have been called by God to enter into his great story of grace.

In preparation for Sunday, take a look at the genealogy of Jesus as arranged and recorded by Matthew in Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Matthew. Notice the women mentioned there: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, the wife of Uriah, and Mary. Then read the story of Tamar found in Genesis 38. Q’s: What is the heart of the issue for Judah? Why is he afraid to give his only remaining son to Tamar as the law of God requires (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)? Does the end justify the means of Tamar’s actions? Finally, where do you see justice and where do you see grace in this chapter? (Some answers are obvious and others not so much – Dig Deep!)

Pastor Markouzel-falls