Sunday, December 23, 2012

Read Today's Gospel Lesson

From Pastor Randy's Sermon:  

Small beginnings, but huge results, this is often the work of God.  We must not forget that even in a society were things happen on such a massive level, that these things too, had small roots.  There was once only one Walmart, one McDonalds, and one computer.  ...

God takes the small things in life and uses them to affect the whole world.  We must never forget that in our own ministry of discipleship as well.  We can never let size be a deterrent to us.  It does not matter the size of the Sunday School class you teach, for you do not know what the ripple effect will be on just touching one student.  All our Christian actions, no matter how insignificant they may seem, go beyond our own seeing.  We probably will never see the complete and entire results and influence we can have on one another, but we must remember to keep on doing the little right things.  

From Pamela:  I wonder what small, seemingly insignificant words or gestures (or glances) may be the beginning of some massive shiftWe need to be on the alert for the joy, hope, peace, justice and love that will be on the move in the next days.  

     It may happen in the world.    It may happen in the nation, your county or your city.  It may happen in the church.  

     It may happen in your family.  

    It may happen anywhere.  But the hugest impact may be when it happens in your 

                   heart and mind!  



Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Voice in the Wilderness

As the pastor prepares to preach, this is on his mind:  This week we listen to John the Baptist, who proclaimed the good news of Jesus' approach.  He was a prophet.  Do we still hear prophetic voices in the 21st Century?  Where, when and how do we hear them?

Luke 3:7-18
3:7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

3:8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

3:9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

3:10 And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?"

3:11 In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."

3:12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?"

3:13 He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you."

3:14 Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."

3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,

3:16 John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

3:18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wait! Prepare!

When we hear the passage: "Prepare the Way of the Lord," what is our response?  Often times we can slip into a mode of waiting for the arrival of Christ instead of preparing for Christ.  If we only wait for Christ then we can become idle, leaving everything to everyone else, thinking God will take care of it in the end.  But if we are heeding the words of Scripture then we are preparing, we are actively participating in attempting to do God's will on earth now today in 2012.  Even though we know that the promise and reign of God, will take care of everything in the end, when we prepare, we become partners in the Gospel, partners in Praising God and Serving Others, partners in our call to show what the Reign of God is to be about.  Pastor Randy

Reflection:  The task of  preparation used to wear me down.  The process of preparation often takes longer than the event (especially when you are preparing a meal which takes hours to assemble and minutes to consume).  Somehow things changed when I began to see "preparation" as part of the joy of cooking.  It helps to assemble the ingredients in some sort of order.  It also helps to have a clear and clean work space. Sharp knives, the right kitchen gadgets and plenty of bowls and cutting boards all make it easier.  And it really helps to have a companion who helps keep my place in the recipe, and taste the food as it is cooking (offering helpful suggestions).  
 I wonder how this can apply to "preparing" for Christ?  What do you think?   

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Behind the Scenes

Can you make a list of those movies that are on rerun on TV very often, but no matter how many times you have seen the movie before, or where it is in the movie, you will just quickly settle in and watch it?   For me the list includes: The Field of Dreams, Remember the Titans, the Shawshank Redemption, just to name a few. This also has been true about movies while they are still in the theater.  What made the movie The Titanic one of the greatest box office smashes was that many people not only went to see it a first time, but there are many more who went to see it umpteen times while it was still in the theater.  It is a story that before we watch, we know the ending.  Often what are fascinating are the stories behind the story.  

From Pastor Randy's Dec. 3 sermon

Reflection:  When you tell or read a story repeatedly to little children, it may seem that they lose interest.  That is, until you try to skip a page or fast forward through some details.  Then the little ones will interrupt and say "But you forgot...."  or "What about ..."  Good stories are precious because of the emotional connections they stimulate.  They are also precious because they remind us that what was compelling and true generations ago is still compelling and true today.  

Many people refer to the story of Christ as the "Greatest Story Ever Told".  It tells about more than the birth of a baby.  What are some of the details that speak tenderly to your heart?  If somebody is telling you the story what detail must NOT be omitted?  

What is the beginning of the story?   How does it end?  (or does it end?)   

The story has thousands of characters and a panorama of places and situations.  What is YOUR PLACE in the story