REV. DAN DELZELL WELLSPRING LUTHERAN CHURCH
In a few weeks, Christians will celebrate the greatest gift the world has ever known. As families and friends exchange presents at Christmas, some people in America and around the world will be meeting the Lord for the first time. In doing so, they will receive the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
How can that be? How can this gift actually provide a person with life after death? And yet, this is exactly what God’s Word guarantees to all who believe in Jesus. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
There must be a catch, right? No, there isn’t. Well then ... why doesn’t everyone celebrate this gift ... and receive this gift ... and thank God for this gift ... and commit their lives to serving the Lord? Because many people don’t believe it ... and therefore choose not to receive God’s gift by faith.
In that sense, there is a Scrooge in all of us. We have a “built-in” predisposition, so to speak, that hardens our heart toward this gift ... and toward the Giver. It is sin in man that makes him doubt God and reject God’s gift. ...
What hope do we have in the midst of this Scrooge-like behavior? ... Can we still be saved? Yes ... as we “repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15) ...
When Jesus arrived on the scene 2000 years ago, it changed everything. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) There it is ... the solution to man’s sin. In the person of Jesus, we have hope. ...
With all that you probably have going on this month, would you like this December to really count in the big picture of things? ... If so, you can easily memorize this Bible verse and say it anytime you begin to lose the proper focus: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15) Believe it, and receive it!
When people live with that passion and perspective ... and with that laser-like faith in Christ, the Lord ... hearts and souls are beautifully connected to the real meaning of Christmas.
Why not make this December one to remember?
REV. NANCY TOMLINSON ST. PAUL’S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Matthew 25:21: “For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.”
In this season of holiday celebrations and gift giving, it is so easy to think that the best gifts we can give are material, the gifts of presents. Ironically, after many conversations, I have found the gift most appreciated and desired is the gift of presence. As we reflect upon our busy lives, the time someone sets aside for us, to talk with us, to prepare a home-baked meal or cookies for us, to pray for us, become increasingly rare and valuable.
A wise pastor once told me you could see what a person really values in life by looking at their bank statement and calendar.
In this season of celebration, what does your calendar and bank statements reflect? Are the things and people you value in life, the ones you treasure, truly represented? This season will you give the gift of presence in all the presents you give?
Blessings as you invest in the treasures of your life.
REV. LOWELL NELSON IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH BELLEVUE
25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Welcome to the season of Advent!
The four weeks of Advent are a time to reflect upon the extraordinary blessing of Christ’s birth and to prepare for Christ’s return as promised in the Scriptures. ...
Each week of Advent celebrates a gift of God given to us through the Holy Spirit; the gifts of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. This week we focus on the spiritual gift of Hope in the midst of much anxiety about our future. ... God’s gift to us of an awareness of the future is twisted by us into a tremendous burden of worry and concern. Is Advent Hope just a phrase to encourage us to adopt a positive mental attitude in the midst of disturbing trends? No!
Advent Hope is certainty that God’s future is drawing near to us. Throughout the Scriptures, God’s movement towards humanity is unwavering. In Advent, we reflect upon the fulfillment of God’s promise to be with us through the incarnation of God’s love in the birth of Christ. We also read Scripture, which deals with the future to prepare for Christ’s return. Much angst is spent by some trying to figure out the timeline of Christ’s return. I am not interested in a mathematical analysis of when Christ returns. I am deeply interested in an increasing appreciation of God’s relationship with us through God’s relentless, passionate pursuit of all creation. I invite you to join me in praying for the Holy Spirit to prepare us to more effectively share the Gospel message in thought, word and deed.
Hope is not simply wishing for something to happen. ... No, Advent Hope is the gift of realizing God’s promises for our past, present and future are deeply true.
Watch how the word “hope” is used by you and those around you this Advent season. Many of us use the phrase “I hope” when it really means, “I wish.” What would it be like if we used phrases such as “I have hope,” which invites conversation about the source of our hope in Christ? Using “Hope” as an acronym, share with your friends “Hallelujah, Our Perspective, Eternal.” Hallelujah for what Christ has done for us! ...
I pray this is a blessed Advent for you. For those who have not heard the message of Christ’s birth... I pray this is the season you hear the truth of God’s love in Christ. For those of us who know this message but simply repeat celebrating the Nativity without preparation for God’s future in breaking, may we hear the truth that our redemption is drawing near. May we be prepared to share God’s gift of Advent Hope.