Dec 22, 2019
Luke 2:8-12; John 1:14; 3:16; Luke 4:16-20; Matthew 25:31-46 “Love All”
The angel declares to the shepherds, “unto you is born this day…” as they deliver the good news of Jesus’ birth.  Often, I think, we take the *you* of that very literally, remembering and celebrating that Jesus indeed came for us, His people.  Culture only serves to emphasize this reality, encouraging it with self-centered materialism and commercialism. Yet, the very fact that Jesus’ birth is announced to shepherds, the lowest of the low in society reminds us that Jesus came for “them” as well.  Looking further into Jesus’ life and ministry, we see very clearly that those we often forget, the least, last and lost of the world, the “them” people in our lives, are exactly who Jesus came to save.  After all, to God, we were on the outside at one point as well. We run the risk of uncoupling the bigger picture of God’s salvation plan for the world when we forget the true nature and meaning of Christmas and the Incarnation. Questions to take home:
  1. What are, or have been, some of your favorite ways to celebrate Christmas?  Who do they involve and what makes them special for you? Of these memories, how many involve people outside your normal family, friend, work, or church circles?
  2. Think about the contrast of people who were a part of the Christmas narrative.  What differences do you see here? How do these differences inform how we think about the “big picture” of Christmas and Jesus’ mission in the world?
  3. In your life, who are the “outsiders” that you find yourself associating with normally?  How could your Christmas celebrations or reflections include them? How can you follow Christ in His mission to bring “Good News of great joy for all people”?
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  • Dec 22, 2019Luke 2:8-12; John 1:14; 3:16; Luke 4:16-20; Matthew 25:31-46 “Love All”
    Dec 22, 2019
    Luke 2:8-12; John 1:14; 3:16; Luke 4:16-20; Matthew 25:31-46 “Love All”
    The angel declares to the shepherds, “unto you is born this day…” as they deliver the good news of Jesus’ birth.  Often, I think, we take the *you* of that very literally, remembering and celebrating that Jesus indeed came for us, His people.  Culture only serves to emphasize this reality, encouraging it with self-centered materialism and commercialism. Yet, the very fact that Jesus’ birth is announced to shepherds, the lowest of the low in society reminds us that Jesus came for “them” as well.  Looking further into Jesus’ life and ministry, we see very clearly that those we often forget, the least, last and lost of the world, the “them” people in our lives, are exactly who Jesus came to save.  After all, to God, we were on the outside at one point as well. We run the risk of uncoupling the bigger picture of God’s salvation plan for the world when we forget the true nature and meaning of Christmas and the Incarnation. Questions to take home:
    1. What are, or have been, some of your favorite ways to celebrate Christmas?  Who do they involve and what makes them special for you? Of these memories, how many involve people outside your normal family, friend, work, or church circles?
    2. Think about the contrast of people who were a part of the Christmas narrative.  What differences do you see here? How do these differences inform how we think about the “big picture” of Christmas and Jesus’ mission in the world?
    3. In your life, who are the “outsiders” that you find yourself associating with normally?  How could your Christmas celebrations or reflections include them? How can you follow Christ in His mission to bring “Good News of great joy for all people”?
  • Dec 15, 2019John 1:1-17; 3:16 “Give More”
    Dec 15, 2019
    John 1:1-17; 3:16 “Give More”
    One of the greatest stressors during the Christmas season is what (and how much) to give to other people.  Whether it is your kids, your parents, or the obligatory gifts to extended relatives that we barely have a relationship with, knowing what to get them can be daunting.  Sometimes, this task is so overwhelming that we simply shut down, defaulting to a meaningless (and often disposable) gift, given out of duty rather than in love. In the Advent season, we should look to the coming of Jesus as the center of our celebration.  Jesus’ own teachings, then, to follow His example ought to be what informs our giving. If we give gifts at Christmas because God “gave us the greatest gift of all,” what lessons can we learn by looking to His example.  God’s giving of Himself, the Incarnation of Jesus, wasn’t an act of obligation, it was a movement of love that should be the prime example for us to follow in our lives. Questions to take home:
    1. What is one of the best gifts you ever received?  What is one of the best gifts you ever gave? What was it that made those gifts so great?  How can your giving this season reflect that to others?
    2. How would you define the word “Incarnation”?  What does that mean for the world and how can we use that as an example and directive for our giving around Christmas?
    3. Where do you see yourself defaulting to duty-bound or obligatory gift-giving this season?  How are you communicating about your relationship or God’s love in those moments? What is one way you could “Give More” to that person (those people) this year?
  • Dec 8, 2019Matthew 6:19-24 “Spend Less”
    Dec 8, 2019
    Matthew 6:19-24 “Spend Less”

    Advent is a season of anticipation and expectation, an invitation into excited preparation of the coming of Jesus.  These descriptions amount to more than simply waiting for the day to come, Advent is an invitation to an intentional posture in our lives.  When we anticipate and expect something, we purposefully prepare for the encounter that is to come.

    Worshiping fully, keeping Jesus at the center of our Advent and Christmas focus then assumes that the other things with which fill our lives in this season will be secondary at least.  As we consider this, we must naturally turn our gaze toward the role our money takes and the direction it goes as we Worship Fully in this “season of giving.”  

    Questions to take home:

     
    1. How does the story of Jesus’ coming into the world challenge our cultural practices surrounding Christmas?  What contrasts do you see in the Biblical narrative? Do you see any ways that you can be more intentional in your use of money this season?

    2. Think about Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 and Jesus’ reading in Luke 4:18-19.  How do these words speak into the materialism and consumerism that we fight against during the Christmas season?

    3. Have you ever taken into consideration whether the values that you (and/or your family) hold to reflect the type of spending that you do, particularly around the holiday season?  Do the companies that you purchase from hold similar values? How does Scripture challenge you in this respect during this Advent season?

  • Dec 1, 2019Isaiah 9:2-7 “Worship Fully”
    Dec 1, 2019
    Isaiah 9:2-7 “Worship Fully”
    Advent Conspiracy was founded on the radical idea that we can celebrate Christmas humbly, beautifully, and generously. Advent is the story of a wondrous moment when God entered our world to make things right. It is the greatest story ever told and it changes everything—including the way we celebrate Christmas.
     
    All themed slides, icons, and sermon titles from https://adventconspiracy.org