I wake up each day and look at the news. I think “seriously? Is this real?” I wonder who will get slaughtered in a mass shooting today? I wonder who will be accused of sexual harassment? I wonder what hateful things will be said or done to divide us even more than we are already divided? I confess that now, I even expect these things. I look for them. I dwell on them. I talk to others about them around the coffeepot at work. Like they say in the news business, “if it bleeds, it leads,” and I have let the problems of the world occupy my sight for too long. My eyes remain too focused on the King Herods among us, and yes, even on the King Herod within me.
But in the midst of all the turmoil, quite without anything I have done, by your power and character alone, a good thing has begun. A few words from an angel to a young woman, and a miraculous child is conceived by the Holy Spirit. And that miraculous child changes everything. It has begun. Now is the time. You are doing a good thing among us, and you are doing a good thing in me. It starts small, with an insignificant girl in an insignificant village. But it has begun. And I look forward with expectant hope, leaning in to whatever awesome things you will do, as you finish what you have begun.
In the name of Jesus, I pray.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION AND REFLECTION
When you get up in the morning, what do you expect for your day? How has God done something unexpected in your life?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Advent and Christmas Events and Schedule
Yes, it is upon us! Everything Advent and Christmas is right here. It is going to be a great season as we lean into the coming of Jesus.
Advent Sermon Series
This Sunday, December 3, is the very first Sunday of the season of Advent, the beginning of the Christian year. The word “Advent” means “beginning.” For the next weeks, we will look forward to the coming of Christ into the world as the Word of God made flesh, Jesus. It is a time of looking forward, of anticipation, of expectancy. During these four weeks, including Christmas Eve, we will look at the nature of that expectancy, and begin to focus our eyes and hearts at the great works God is now beginning among us. This week, we will look at God’s promise to Mary that she will be the mother of the Lord, and how she interpreted that promise. Come and join us!
Remember the Poor at Christmas this year, with a gift to St. Luke’s Christmas Offering supporting the Christian Community Service Center.
If you missed our great dinner last night, we heard about the great work being done by CCSC to provide basic needs to those dealing with material poverty: food, clothing, rental and utility assistance, job training, and services for children. We were excited to announce that we have received a marvelous commitment from Suzie and Don Sinclair to match every dollar given to CCSC up to $250,000. Every dollar you give will mean two dollars received by CCSC. We have a goal to raise at least $500,000 to help CCSC move to the next level of ministry as we look to replace our facility there and help more people with these basic needs. St. Paul says in Galatians, when speaking about the apostles in Jerusalem, “they asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:10) I hope you will be generous and remember the poor as part of our Christmas offering. You can make your contribution here.
Sunday, December 3
Heavenly Father, your goodness towards your children is forever and fathomless. Forgive us when we take your goodness for granted, when we are blasé about it. It is an everlasting, undeserved, and precious gift freely given to us. Thank you. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Bill Denham
Monday, December 4
Heavenly Father, Advent is all about goodness. Come, fill our hearts with a balance of generosity and expectation! Help us to make our exchange of gifts a joyful act of goodness and encourage us to exchange smiles of good cheer with strangers and friends alike. Let goodness be the essence of the season, reflected by hands and hearts of kindness as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, in whose Holy Name we pray. Amen.
Tuesday, December 5
Lord, have mercy on us. We are up in arms in our words and deeds. Conflict threatens so many nations. Protect Israel. Despite mankind’s fallen ways, your boundless grace covers us, thanks to the ultimate sacrifice paid by your Son in the flesh. We are thankful for your goodness. Amen.
Wednesday, December 6
Gracious and Loving Heavenly Father, may we abide in and take on the traits of Jesus Christ, one of which is goodness. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Thursday, December 7
Lord, you pour out your goodness into our lives in so many ways. Thank you for the opportunity to give back to you to bless others. Help us to be faithful to our stewardship commitment to you as the year comes to an end. Please take our financial gifts and multiply them for your kingdom work. Amen.
Friday, December 8
Dear Heavenly Father, at this holy time of year when you sent your Son to bring goodness into this world, let us find goodness in our hearts so that we may share it with others. Reflect your goodness through us, and let others see you at work during this busy season. Thank you for your perfect gift of goodness abounding in love. Amen.
Saturday, December 9
Lord, we should not need to be reminded of your goodness. Daily you shower us with amazing and lasting love, but we are your earthly children, and we tend to forget. May we remain focused on the wonder of the Christ Child and the love that came to us through this gift. Help us translate our gratitude into sharing love and laughter, respect and responsibility, appreciation and kindness, before, during, and after this Advent season. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
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