ANNOUNCEMENTS

Next Sun. Dec. 17

10 am      Sunday School
11 am      Worship

UPCOMING EVENTS

Sun. Dec. 24

11 am      Worship
6:30 pm      Christmas Eve Service with SS program and communion

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THE ONE OF PEACE

(Micah 5:1-5a)          Pastor Carol Weist
Micah 5:1-5a:   
Now you are walled around with a wall; siege is laid against us;  with a rod they strike the ruler of Israel upon the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.  Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth;  then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.  And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.  And they shall live secure,
for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; aand he shall be the one of peace.

Jesus is the one of peace.

We are not walled around with a wall, under siege from Assyria, as Bethlehem was in the days of Micah and King Hezekiah.  You may not be under siege from the Assyrians,
but you may be under siege by other things.  Bethlehem was a little place compared to Jerusalem and its protective wall was not nearly as massive as that of Jerusalem.  It would seem wiser and safer for a future ruler to be born in Jerusalem.  But God chose Bethlehem.

God does not choose only the big places. God chooses the little ones also. And those in between.

Being chosen involves expectations, such as loyalty to God and obedience. The Hebrew people were not always loyal and obedient to God.  They fell for worshipping other gods. They fell for lying and cheating.  If they thought they were falling for peace, it was a false peace.

Jesus is the one of peace despite all the conflicts and troubles that besiege may besiege us.  Jesus did not come into a world that had no troubles.  He came into a world filled with troubles, not because God created the world wrong,  but because people treated the world wrong,  because people treat God’s creation wrong  which includes creatures like ourselves.  People don’t always do right by themselves  nor do they always do right by others.  That is why we need Jesus.
Jesus exhorts us in Matthew 5:48  to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  Our heavenly Father did the perfect thing by sending his son Jesus  to a far from perfect place amidst far from perfect people. Continue reading

GREAT LIGHT

(Isaiah 9:2)                 Pastor Carol Weist

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.”

                                                (Isaiah 9:2)

Today, the first Sunday in Advent we lit the prophets’ candle while hearing words from the prophet Isaiah.   Isaiah shared God’s word with the people of his day, words of challenge and warning and words of comfort and hope.

He warned people that they were walking in darkness, the darkness of rebellion against God, disobedience and sin. He warned that such rebellion and disregard for God had consequences. Yet if the people repented and returned to God there is comfort and hope even while living through the consequences of disobedience, sin, and rebellion.

In Isaiah’s day and in our day people have walked in darkness.  Wrong-doing is darkness.  One step of wrong-doing often leads to more steps into wrong-doing, deeper and deeper in the misguided hope and belief that somehow eventually more wrong-doing will permanently hide all the previous wrong-doing and avoid any consequences from all that wrong-doing.

Even though people can sometimes manage to hide their wrong-doing from other people at least for a time, that wrong-doing is never hidden from God.

God is light.

The psalmist declares to God in Psalm 139:  Where can I go from your spirit?   Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there;  if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.  If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you;  the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.  (Psalm 139:7-12)

God is the great light.  God is such a great light that darkness is not dark to God.  Jesus is such a great light that darkness is not dark to him.

Jesus does not shine his great light on our wrong-doing to destroy us.  Jesus wants to renew and transform us.  Jesus wants to cleanse us from wrong-doing and restore us.  That cleansing is not always comfortable, but it does provide comfort and hope. Continue reading

GOD GIVES THE GROWTH

(1 Corinthians 3:7)    Pastor Carol Weist
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)

Remember in the parable of the talents the slave who was given one talent?
“The one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘  Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed;  so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.   Here you have what is yours.’” (Matthew 25:24-25)

The master agreed in part with the slave’s description of him,  that he reaped where he did not sow and gathered where he did not scatter seed.  The master’s reply to the disgruntled, fearful slave did not repeat the word harsh.  The master’s response was stern.   That slave was not letting the light of God’s growth in.  That slave was dwelling in darkness and until he gave up the darkness  his heart would only get darker and more troubled.

There was no growth.  If the talent hidden in the ground had been a seed
it might have sprouted and grown, but it was not. The other slaves went out and traded
and did business with the talents they were given and God gave the growth.  It is possible to get in the way of God giving the growth.  Planting seed and then disturbing it when it needs to sprout prevents the seed from growing. Skipping watering prevents growth.

God gives us the work of planting and watering and harvesting.  In 1 Corinthians 3 the apostle Paul acknowledges  that God does not keep the work of planting and watering for himself.  He gives that work to his disciples and that includes us. Continue reading

GIVE THANKS

(Psalm 107)                      Pastor Carol Weist

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;  for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good”  appears multiple times in scripture, not just on our thanksgiving banners.   It appears in 1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1,
Psalm 118:1 and 29, Psalm 136:1, Ezra 3:11 and Jeremiah 33:11.  The phrase “for his steadfast love endures forever” occurs many more times.

We give thanks to the Lord not merely because it is the polite thing to do.  We give thanks to the Lord because the Lord is one hundred per cent good all the time.  We are not one hundred per cent good all the time.  That is why we include ourselves in the redeemed of the Lord.

God redeems us from our troubles.  Our Lord Jesus redeems us from our sin.  God gathers us together.  We speak of gathering together.  We are cautioned not to neglect gathering together.  We are prone to forget that the Holy Spirit does the gathering.  The Lord creates the gathering that we call church. The Lord gives us the say so to gather and the voices to ”give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,  for his steadfast love endures forever.” 

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. (Psalm 107:2-3)

We don’t all have the same roots. We don’t all come from the same backgrounds.  We don’t all have the same experiences and histories. Continue reading

EVER READY

(Matthew 25:1-13)           Pastor Carol Weist

Part of being ready for a storm where they might be a power outage often includes battery operated flashlights or lanterns and extra batteries.  Having extra batteries is wise.   Those batteries give us faith that we can see to make it through what happens.

The number of batteries various flashlights use varies.  Some flashlights take one battery, many take two batteries or even more.  Cutting a battery in half is not a safe or workable option.  A flashlight that needs one battery won’t work on a battery cut in half.  A flashlight that needs two or more batteries to run won’t run on one.

Tiny as one’s faith might be, as tiny as a mustard seed, we don’t run on half faith.  It doesn’t work to cut one’s own faith seed in half and plant it in another person.

Instead Jesus gives each of us our own faith seed.

A seed generally has three main parts, each part which can have parts.  The embryo is the plant in miniature form, one’s faith in miniature.  The endosperm or a part of the embryo nourishes the plant that is to sprout and grow.  The seed coat protects the embryo until sprouting and growing breaks out from that initial protection. Continue reading

BLESSED

(Revelation 7:9-17)                 Pastor Carol Weist

Palm branches, waving palm branches –“the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.   So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!’”  (John 12:12-13)

“Hosanna!” they cry.  “Lord, save us.  Lord, deliver us.”

The enthusiasm of that crowd for Jesus did not last the week. As the week draws to a close, the enthusiasm of the crowd turns against Jesus.  The crowd no longer considers Jesus to be their Savior and Deliverer. Instead they cheer the authorities on as Jesus is condemned to death on a cross.

How do we get from the crowd condemning Jesus to that multitude of people that no one can count waving palm branches in Revelation 7:9? – “a multitude robed in white from every nation,  from all tribes and peoples standing before the Lamb.”

That multitude cries out loudly, “Salvation belongs to our God  who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  (Revelation 7:10) Unlike the crowd waving palm branches when Jesus entered Jerusalem, they are not crying out for salvation, they are not asking to be saved, they are not asking to be delivered.  They are proclaiming that they have been saved, that they have been delivered, and that that salvation belongs to our Lord Jesus.  They are praising the Lord for what the Lord has done. Continue reading