Community Advent Guide National Heights Baptist Church
â€Śand unto us a son is givenâ€Ś
TABLE OF CONTENTS Hope……………………………………………………………………………………………………PAGE 04 November 27 November 28 November 29 November 30 December 01 December 02 December 03
Matthew 24.42 Psalm 79 Micah 4.1-5 Luke 21.34-38 Hosea 6.1-6 Isaiah 29.24 Ezekiel 36.24-28
Peace……………………………………………………………………………………………………PAGE 12 December 04 December 05 December 06 December 07 December 08 December 09 December 10
Mark 1.7-8 Psalm 27 Isaiah 2.4-6 Luke 1.5-11 Philippians 3.7-11 Habakkuk 3.2-6 Psalm 126
Joy……………………………………………………………………………………………………….PAGE 22 December 11 December 12 December 13 December 14 December 15 December 16 December 17
Isaiah 61.1 Ephesians 6.10-17 Malachi 3.16-4:6 Mark 9.9-13 Hebrews 1.1-4, Hebrews 1.5-14 John 7.45-52
Love…………………………………………………………………………………………………….PAGE 32 December 18 December 19 December 20 December 21 December 22 December 23 December 24
Luke 1.39-45 Luke 1.46b-55 Hebrews 8.1-13 Mark 11.1-11 Psalm 96 Zephaniah 3.14-20 Luke 2.1-20
Christ…………………………………………………………………………………………………..PAGE 41 December 25 December 26 December 27 December 28 December 29 December 30 December 31
Hebrews 1.1-4 Luke 2.21-40 John 1.1-14 Matthew 2.13-18 Isaiah 49.5-15 1 John 4 Ecclesiastes 3.1-13
Family Christmas Traditions…………………………………………………………………..PAGE 50 Favorite Holiday Recipes……………………………………………………………………….PAGE 53 Upcoming Events and Church Information…………………………………………….PAGE 62
A Message from Pastor Barrett: ―Come, Lord Jesus‖ is in the last sentence of the Bible and is my Advent mantra this year. To me it signifies my anticipation and participation in the Advent season. It reminds me that while God is redeeming so too must I help while waiting expectantly for the return of Jesus Christ. And that is the purpose of Advent – right? We work and wait expectantly for the return of our King. If this is true, why, then, do we celebrate Jesus‘ return the same time we celebrate his birth? On the surface this seems wrong, but the Advent season serves a dual role. It celebrates Christ‘s coming to earth as a babe and his promise to return again as King. The Incarnation is our redemption. So to help our faith seek this understanding, the members of National Heights Baptist have compiled a devotional guide including thoughts, prayers, traditions, and recipes to help in our communal experience of Advent as well as our working and waiting. To help supplement the work of National Heights we are also using one of my favorite spiritualists, Richard Rohr. But this guide is simply that – a guide. You are still going to have to put in the time, prayer, and reflective energy to get out what so many have worked hard to put in. Along with daily devotions, National Heights Baptist is providing intentional fellowship and worship experiences all throughout Advent. You are more than welcome to join us as we live and move, show and exhibit, pray and play as a community of grace that is continually working and waiting for Christ. My prayer, this Advent season, is for you to realize and to appreciate the importance of saying, ―Come, Lord Jesus.‖ Warm regards, Rev. J. Barrett Owen, pastor 3
Hope ―Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don‘t give up.‖ – Anne Lamott
*Art Submitted by Bethanie Strong 4
November 27 COME, LORD JESUS Matthew 24.42 Barrett Owen ―Come, Lord Jesus.‖ It means that all of Christian history has to live out of a kind of intentional emptiness, a kind of chosen non-fulfillment. Perfect fulfillment is always to come, so we don‘t need to demand it now. This mindset keeps the field of life wide open and especially open to grace and to a future created by God rather than ourselves. This is exactly what it means to be ―awake,‖ as the Gospel urges us! We can also use other ―a‖ words for Advent: aware, alive, attentive, and alert are all appropriate! Advent is, above all else, a call to full consciousness and a forewarning about the high price of consciousness. When we demand satisfaction of one another, when we demand any completion to history on our terms, when we demand that our anxiety or any dissatisfaction be taken away, saying as it were, ―Whey weren‘t you this for me? Why didn‘t life do that for me?‖ we are refusing to say, ―Come, Lord Jesus.‖ We are refusing to hold out for the full picture that is always given by God. As Richard Rohr says, ―Come, Lord Jesus‖ is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope. Hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves. We are able to trust that Jesus will come again, just as Jesus has come into our past, into our private dilemmas and now our suffering world. Our Christian past now becomes our Christian prologue, and ―Come, Lord Jesus‖ is not a cry of desperation but, rather, an assured shout of cosmic hope. 1
Reflect: What expectations and demands of life can you let go of so that you can be more prepared for the coming of Jesus? Taken and adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 2008) pp 4-5. 1
November 28 SACREDNESS OF ADVENT Psalm 79 Vicky Johnson In years of old, Advent was seen as an Event during the Christmas Holiday Season that included confessing sins and begging God to forgive them. It was a time for soul cleansing. But as time passed away, churches changed, and Advent was modernized from Event to a secular holiday. Instead of the church hanging greens, worshiping, lighting colored candles, praying, listening for the Spirit of the Lord, and lighting of the Christ candle symbolizing the incarnation of Jesus, we avoided the spiritual and embraced the mundane, secular behavior society demands of us. We‘ve made Advent look more like a holiday than an Event. Advent should be a time where we, in community, prepare for the coming of the Lord. It should be a time where we confess, corporately, our sins and shortcomings. It should be a time where we embrace the redemptive quality of God‘s love on humanity. And Psalm 79 can help us make this move back to seeing Advent as an Event. Psalm 79 is about a community struggling for survival and trying desperately to wait upon the LORD. They‘re frustrated and concerned, but are still hopeful and able to say phrases to God like, ―Let your compassion hurry to us,‖ ―help us,‖ and ―deliver us.‖ This Advent season, we need to do the same thing. We need to pray for Jesus to show compassion, to help, and to deliver us from our iniquities. We need to say, ―help us‖ and ―deliver us‖ from our need to embrace the mundane (holiday) story of Christmas so we can embrace a more beautiful, sacred one (Event).
Reflect What attachments in your own life can you let go of to make more room for God? What do you need ―help‖ from in order to get back to the sacred? 6
November 29 KEEP HOPE IN YOUR HEART Micah 4.1-5 Dale and Debbie Relyea Recently, we watched a heartwarming movie about a boy in foster care who found a stray dog. The little boy thought the dog belonged to the First Family of the United States, so he gather the dog and set out on a journey cross-country to Washington, DC. He hoped to ―do the right thing‖ and return the dog to its rightful owner. But most people scoffed at his story. Surely the dog did not belong to the President‘s family! Yet the little boy persisted. He kept hope in his heart. The season of Advent opens with hope, anticipating the coming crescendo of hope with the birth of Jesus. This hope is greater than life‘s challenges; it transcends the frantic pace of our commercial culture. This hope assures us of God‘s love expressed by sending Jesus into the world. Micah 4:5b reminds us to never give up hope, for God‘s people ―will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.‖ Hope is a journey. Hope is our future. Jesus is coming. We will walk in the name of the Lord, forever. And that‘s why we should always ―keep hope in our heart.‖
Reflect What gives you hope? What keeps hope alive in your heart?
November 30 THE DAY OF THE LORD Luke 21.34-38 Bea Andrews In Luke 21.3-38, Jesus gives his final warning to be careful not to get too involved with the routine of life so as to become distracted and unprepared for ―that day.‖ ―That day‖ will come suddenly and without notice. Jesus doesn‘t want us date-setting either. He wants his followers always to be on the watch praying that we will be able to stand before the Son of Man on THAT DAY. As a believer we should be on guard from ourselves and others. We should tell nonbelievers about eternal life that is found in Jesus Christ so that they might be prepared for THAT DAY. God wants to create in each believer an acute awareness and belief of his ever presence so that we won‘t be caught off guard. Pray our faith will simply be made sight. Pray we will be gloriously shocked but not ashamed on THAT DAY. Be ready, for the Son of man is coming in an hour when you did not think.
Reflect What does Luke‘s vision of the Son of Man coming mean to you? What ―kingdoms‖ do you need to let go of in order to embrace the ―kingdom of heaven?‖
December 1 HOSEA‘S HOPE Hosea 6.1-6 Jim Robbins The idea of hope and the book of Hosea may seem like a strange mixture since like most of the Minor Prophets the main theme is judgment against an unbelieving people. But in Hosea 6 there is such a promise! Hosea prophesied during the period of the Northern Kingdom's decline and fall in the 8th century BCE. The apostasy of the people was rampant, having turned away from God in order to serve idols. While God hates the sins of his people and judgment is certain, God's incredible forgiving love is also shown. Hosea reveals God‘s amazing love and this theme runs throughout the New Testament in passages like John 3:16 and 1 John 4:8. Paul and Peter in their letters show, by using Hosea, that God‘s love extends to the Gentiles (us) and that he wants to make them (again us) his children (Rom 9:26 and 1 Pt 2:10). So just what does Hosea have to do with the idea of hope? The idea of hope can be rather nebulous, without any real meaning. We say ―I hope it doesn‘t rain today‖ or ―I hope my socks match‖ which have about the same conviction as ―Have a nice day.‖ But to Christians the idea of hope is much firmer. Our hope is tied to our faith which is tied to Jesus our redeemer. As Paul said, ―Now faith is the promise of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.‖ (Heb 11:1) and Peter, ―who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.‖ We have the solid hope (it will happen) of life in Jesus through faith. This faith allows us to have the assurance of all the promises of God and His grace based solely on His faithfulness to us. Thus hope moves from vagueness, a maybe, to an absolute certainty. In Advent His faithfulness and promise to us, and our hope, is given in Immanuel, God with us.
Reflect Do you believe God‘s faithfulness is reflected in Jesus? Why? Do you believe God wants restoration – as mentioned in Hosea? 9
December 2 ALLOWING GOD‘S TRUTH Isaiah 29.42 Richard Rohr Jesus clearly says the kingdom of God is ―among us‖ or ―at hand.‖ One wonders why we made it into a reward system for later, or as someone called it, ―a divine evacuation plan‖ from this world. Maybe it was easier to obey laws and practice rituals for later reward than to actually be transformed now. The price for real transformation is high. It means that we have to change our loyalties from power, success, money, and control to the Lordship of Jesus and the kingdom of God. Henceforth, there is only one thing that is Absolute and, in relationship to that, everything else is relative – everything – even the church (don‘t think I am disloyal because the failure to understand this is what go many of our leaders into trouble recently), even our nation, even national security, even our wealth and our processions, even our identity and our reputation. All of our safety nets must now be of secondary or even tertiary importance, or even let go of, because Jesus is Lord! Whatever you trust to validate you and secure you is your real god, and the Gospel is saying, ―Will the real God please stand up?‖ We can see why there are so few kingdom people. Jesus is saying that all these systems are passing away and limited and that we should not put all of our eggs into such baskets. Yes, we need to work inside of these institutions for social order and some small degree of justice, but we shouldn‘t think these systems will ever of themselves accomplish God‘s justice or God‘s reign. If a person thinks this, or she will end up bitter by the second half of life.2
Reflect What in your life gives you false happiness and fulfillment and prevents you from letting God‘s truth break into your life?
Taken and adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 2008) pp 19-21. 2
December 3 ASSURANCE. RENEWAL. RESTORATION. Ezekiel 36.24-28 Connie King HOPE is the essence of optimism—the reason to feel happy—the motivation for feeling encouraged; it is fundamental for all who want to have a positive, productive outlook—how difficult it is NOT to use the word ―hopeful‖ when you‘re speaking about HOPE! Yet, God generates hope in his human creations. He always shows hope for us, His children, no matter how ―wrong‖ we get it. God always stands willing to forgive and forget our bad behavior. The prophet, Ezekiel, in chapter 36, verse 24 relates God‘s assurance to the far-flung Jews that He will bring them back together in their own home land! Certainly, this promise is a hope-provoking encouragement from God, the HOPE OF ASSURANCE that God is actively working on behalf of His chosen people. Further, He promises to cleanse these, His people, from their filthiness and idolatry. Despite their betrayal to Him in the worship of idols, and their unclean practices within the Law of Moses, God promises to ―sprinkle them with clean water and wash away their sins.‖ Hence, the HOPE OF RENEWAL was given the Jews as a result of God‘s grace. The HOPE OF RESTORATION is promised as well, in verse 26. God confirms that He will give His people a new heart and spirit –their hearts ―of stone‖ will become hearts ―of flesh‖—and of feeling. And, to further seal-thedeal, God assures that He will put His Holy Spirit in them in order to enable them to be true to Him!—by ―walking in My statutes and by keeping My judgments.‖ Finally, God culminates His promise by giving the HOPE OF AFFIRMATION: ―You shall dwell in the land that I gave your fathers; you shall be My people, and I shall be your God.‖ This Advent season, let us find within our hearts the knowledge that God is our HOPE.
Reflect What in your life is God restoring? What in your life is god affirming? 11
Peace ―If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.‖ -Mother Teresa
Peace Found Through Devotion: A Personal Story Many years ago when the children were young, I went through a period of insomnia, awaking around 2am. I started reading the Bible, especially Paul‘s writings. The New English Version was just out and I found I was getting a refreshing take on a lot of familiar passages. After a period of time I began to sleep through the nigh again, but I had a renewed appreciation of the passages I had read. This experience taught me another valuable lesson. Sometimes what begins as a negative can be turned into a positive. We never know when the hand of God can be involved in what seems, to us at the time, to be a setback. Isn‘t it wonderful to have a Heavenly Father who guides us even when we, stubborn sheep, seem been on having it our way! - Anonymous Parishioner
December 4 A STRUGGLE FOR PEACE Mark 1.7-8 Richard Rohr John the Baptist‘s qualities are most rare and yet crucial for any reform or authentic transformation of persons or groups. That‘s why we focus on John every advent and why Jesus accepts his non-temple, offbeat nature ritual, while also going far beyond him. Water is only the container; fire and Spirit are the contents, John says. Yet if we aren‘t like the great John, we will invariably substitute our own little container for the real contents. We will substitute rituals for reality instead of letting the rituals point us beyond themselves. John the Baptizer is the strangest combination of conviction and humility, morality and mysticism, radical prophecy and living in the present. This son of the priest temple class does his own thing down by the riverside; he is a man born into privilege who dresses like a hippie: he is a superstar who is willing to let go of everything, creating his own water baptism and then saying that what really matters is the baptism of ―Spirit and fire.‖ He is a living paradox, as even Jesus says to him: ―There I no man greater than John…but he is also the least‖ in the new reality that I am bringing about (Matt 11.11). John both gets it and does not get it at all, which is why he has to exit stage right early in the drama. He has played his single and important part, and he knows it. His is brilliantly a spirituality of descent, not ascent. ―He must grow bigger, I must grow smaller.‖ The only way such freedom can happen is if John learned to be very empty of himself already as a young man, before he even built his tower of success. His ego was out of the way so much so that he could let go of his own ego, his own message and even his own life. This is surely the real meaning of his head on a platter! Some have cleverly said that ego is an acronym for ―Edging God Out.‖ There‘s got to be such emptiness, or we cannot point beyond ourselves to Jesus, as John did. Such emptiness doesn‘t just fall into our laps; such humility does not just happen. It is surely the end product of a thousand letting goes and a thousand acts of devotion, which for John the Baptist gradually edging God in.3
Reflect How is your spirituality one of ascent or descent? Taken and adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 2008) pp 19-21. 3
December 5 MY HEART SHALL NOT FEAR Psalm 27 Carol Paramore There are times in our lives when our world comes crashing down on us; if anything can go wrong it will. Fear traps us in the belief that nothing will ever improve. I can tell you from experience, fear and anger are real. In 2009/2010 I was so angry with God that I had no faith. I did not believe that God was listening to me. I questioned him over and over about what I had done to anger him so badly that he caused me unimaginable pain and heartache. He did not answer or at least I didn‘t think he did. There is nothing so dark and gloomy as fear, nothing so unsettling than being afraid of being alone. I was trapped in that place. I learned that worship and worry cannot live in the same heart. My two best friends had constantly urged me to come to their church saying that maybe that would ease my worried and tormented heart. To be quite truthful, I was quite content in my own ―feel sorry for myself‖ world. It took the loss of one of those wonderful people for me to give up and go to that little church. I did not really expect anything as my experience with past churches was nothing to brag about. I only went to pacify my friend so she would quit bothering me. I just knew that this would not bring me peace, not relive my fears. I already had my mind set that one visit was all I was willing to give to this church. Then several voices said, ―Welcome to National Heights, you are welcome here.‖ God was listening! All I had to do was wait.
―Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.‖ Psalm 27:14 Reflect What fears are you still holding on to? What are you waiting on the Lord for?
December 6 REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE. Isaiah 4.2-6 Helen Odom Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. God is the original environmentalist, or at least that‘s what the prophet Isaiah seems to imply as the World of the Lord comes to him some 2700 years ago saying, ―Everyone left behind in Zion, all the discards and rejects in Jerusalem, will be reclassified as ‗holy‘- alive and therefore precious.‖ (Isaiah 4:3, The Message). God is sharing a plan in which God‘s chosen people, in Jerusalem, in Zion, will be reused, recycled, redeemed, given a new life. Isaiah‘s ―environmentalist‖ message, his word of hope comes to Israel after Babylon has destroyed Jerusalem, Zion, and all of Judah and has taken the wealthy, successful, useful people back to Babylon as slaves. At first glance, all that appears to remain in Jerusalem is death, destruction, the outcasts, the poorest of the poor, the people who are so insignificant that they can‘t even make good slaves for the Babylonians. There seems to be no hope, no future for those left behind. God speaks a word of comfort and promise. God assures the inhabitants of Jerusalem that they are not forgotten, that they are not useless. God says that he has a glorious place and plan and purpose and meaning for them. God assures the people that they are people of worth, precious in God‘s sight and instrumental in the divine plan for redemption of the world. And isn‘t that the way it is with us? God chooses broken, humble, imperfect people. God redeems, reuses, recycles all kinds until we are holy – alive and therefore precious.
Reflect What is God redeeming, reusing, and recycling you for? What areas in your life do you wish you could turn over to God for recycling?
December 7 SEEKERS OF PEACE Luke 1.5-11 Vivian Bullock December 7, 1941 was the beginning of the WWII. That was to be the War to end all Wars! Not so. So we continue to be seekers of Peace. Luke 1:5-11 offers another kind of story that helps us in our search for Peace. Luke presents the works and teachings of Jesus that are especially important for understanding the way of salvation. The time frame of the writings was around 59-63 A.D. and was probably written in Rome. Luke was a Gentile by birth, well educated in Greek Culture, a physician by profession and a companion of Paul, a loyal friend and missionary. He wanted to show that the place of the Gentile Christian in God‘s Kingdom is based on the teachings of Jesus. His account of Jesus‘ ministry is prefaced by information about the birth of John the Baptist. In the time of Herod, King of Judea, a Priest named Zachariah lived with his wife Elizabeth. They were both growing old and had no children. One of Zachariah‘s duties as Priest was to burn incense inside the Temple while the assembled worshipers prayed outside. In Luke 1, at a particular assembly, an Angel appears to Zechariah informing him that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son and to give him the name John. John‘s birth occurred just a few months before the Birth of Jesus. This birth is relevant to Advent because it lifts up the influence of God in our world as well as sets the stage for the coming of Emmanuel. John the Baptist points us to the ultimate Prince of Peace.
Reflect In what ways do you search and seek for peace? In what ways do you see God‘s influence on your life? How does it bring you peace? 16
December 8 BEING IN CHRIST Philippians 3.7-11 Judy Hames What do you value? If you had to leave your home and you only had time to grab three things, what would they be? Pictures? Jewelry? Heirlooms? Electronics? In Philippians 3:7-11, Paul states that he counts everything as loss (v.7-8) because knowing God and being ―in Christ‖ is so much more valuable than anything he could ever own. When we know God, everything else is like rubbish (v.8). When we know God, our lives change. The things of this world appear miserable and weak compared to the love that God graciously bestows upon us. Knowing God isn‘t accomplished through our works or through the positions we hold in church or society. It isn‘t something we earn. God‘s love is a gift. We receive God‘s love through faith in Christ. Through this faith in Christ, we share Christ‘s sufferings, but also attain salvation (v.10-11). Through our faith in Christ, we have a peace that surpasses all understanding. Our problems and troubles fade away as we turn them over to God. God clothes us in His righteousness over and over again, even though we do not deserve it. God‘s love sustains us through everything, even suffering and pain. Sometimes, the suffering and pain we endure brings us closer to God. As we engage the Advent season, let us reexamine the things which are most valuable to us. Let us accept the love and righteousness that God gives so freely and experience the peace that comes from knowing God. The following poem, written by Graham Kendrick, expresses the essence of being ―in Christ.‖
All I once held dear, built my life upon All this world reveres, and wars to own All I once thought gain I have counted loss Spent and worthless now, compared to this Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you, There is no greater thing You‘re my all, you‘re my rest You‘re my joy, my righteousness And I love you, Lord Now my heart‘s desire is to know you more To be found in you and known as yours To possess by faith what I could not earn All-surpassing gift of righteousness Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you, There is no greater thing You‘re my all, you‘re my rest You‘re my joy, my righteousness And I love you, Lord Oh, to know the power of your risen life And to know you in your sufferings To become like you in your death, my Lord So with you to live and never die Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you, There is no greater thing You‘re my all, you‘re my rest You‘re my joy, my righteousness And I love you, Lord
Reflect What does it mean to you to be ―in Christ?‖ What do you consider to be most valuable to you? 18
December 9 GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD Habakkuk 3.2-6 Susan Blair One of my favorite songs is a contemporary country western sung by Rascal Flatts called Bless the Broken Road. The first time I heard it I was struck by how much I could relate to the words – it was if he had written about my life. To understand, one would probably need to hear the song, if not see the words written out. And my guess is that if we were all honest, each of us could remember a point in our life when we felt we were on a broken road, aimlessly wandering in search of something to fill the void. Even though the words are specifically about finally finding the true love that seemed to have evaded him through a number of broken relationships, I think there are many life experiences that find us on paths searching for something. Not knowing exactly what it is that we think will make us happy, we experiment down many broken roads stubbornly refusing to surrender our search to God. What is interesting about the words to this song is how a secular song can also have a deeper spiritual message. ―I set out on a narrow way many years ago, hoping I would find true love along the broken road. But I got lost a time or two, wiped my brow and kept pushing through. I couldn‘t see how every sign pointed straight to you. Every long lost dream lead me to where you are. Others who broke my heart, they were like Northern stars, pointing me on my way into your loving arms.‖ How many times have we set out to achieve a dream but got knocked down? As Christians we eventually learn that many of these tough lessons are pointing us to the saving grace of Christ. They are the Northern stars, pointing us into Christ‘s loving arms.
―I think about the years I spent just passing through. I‘d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you. But you just smile and take my hand, you‘ve been there, you understand. It‘s all part of a grander plan that is coming true.‖ Some of us were not lucky enough to become lifetime partners with our college loves. And when we do find the loves of our lives, how often have we wished that we could have back some of the time of our youth to give to those who are in our lives today? I wonder how often God wishes we had shared more time with him. But he just smiles, and takes our hands because he knows….he knows everything we have been through on that broken road that finally led us to him. In the refrain, the singer gives God the glory for leading him to his true love… ―This much I know is true, That God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.‖ In Habakkuk 3:2-6 the prophet is praising God and giving him the glory for leading the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land. The pestilence and plague meant freedom and deliverance. It was a broken road for the Israelites but God led them out of bondage. As we acknowledge that God has the power to set us free, just as he did the Israelites, we can know the peace that comes from rolling into the loving arms of Christ. God bless the broken road that led us straight to Christ.
Reflect What bondages are we enslaved to today? How has God turned your mourning into dancing?
December 10 GOD WILL RESTORE US Psalm 126 Betsy Phifer This year I‘ve done some soul searching for my true meaning. It‘s caused me to reflect on how I grew up with one parent being there for me, seeing we had the necessary things: food, clothing, and education. As a mother, I used go out and work on the potato machines to help bring in money for my children. After a day‘s work we would walk the fields to pick up additional potatoes, green beans, and tomatoes and cabbage. We‘d take the extra crops and share them with the neighbors. Through these experiences, I believe I‘ve become a stronger person. I look back on the strength of my mother, the love I felt for my family and the need I carried to care for them and truly believe they reflect the love and peace of Jesus Christ. I look back on these memories because they help me face the pain of life. I‘ve lost my step dad, who was the best dad I‘ve ever known. He stood by all my sisters and brothers to see that we were going in the right direction. Even though he has passed he is still with me in my hearts and soul. He was very proud of us, ―his family‖ as he called the five of us. My very good friend came to me and asked me to come to church with her and I have come, joined one of the nicest churches. The people are the nicest and make you feel very welcome. I have my mom, my daughter‘s family. Best of all we have a larger, happier family with lots of happiness in all our hearts. We have always been taught to share with others what we have and God will take care of us.
Reflect Where are you seeing God‘s redemption in your life? What is your life‘s true meaning? How does advent speak into that answer? 21
Joy ―Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.‖ – Joseph Campbell
*Art Submitted by Bethanie Strong 22
December 11 RELATED IN THE SPIRIT Richard Rohr Isaiah 61.1 The Spirit always connects, reconciles, forgives, heals, and makes two into one. It moves beyond human-made boundaries to utterly realign and renew that which is separated and alienated. The ―diabolical‖ (from the Greek words dia balein, that means ―to throw apart‖), by contrast, always divides and separates that which could be united and at peace. Jesus as the Spirit always makes one out of two, so the evil one invariably makes two out of one! The evil one tears the fabric of life apart, while the Spirit comes to mend, soften and heal. In today‘s reading from Isaiah, the prophet describes the Coming Servant of Yahweh. It is precisely this quote that Jesus first uses to announce the exact nature of his own ministry (Luke 4). In each case Jesus describes his work as moving outside of polite and proper limits and boundaries to reunite things that have been marginalized by society: the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, and the downtrodden. His ministry is no to gather the so-called good into a private country club but to reach out to those on the edge and on the bottom, those who are ―last‖ to tell them they are, in fact, first! That is almost the very job description of the Holy Spirit, and therefore of Jesus. The more that we can put together, the more that we can ―forgive‖ and allow, the more we can include and enjoy, the more we tend to be living in the Spirit. The more we need to reject, oppose, deny, exclude, and eliminate, the more open we are to negative and destructive voices and to our own worst instincts. As always, Jesus is our model of healing, outreach, and reconciliation – the ultimate man of the Spirit.4
Reflect What divisions exist in your life? How can you let the Spirit mend those divisions? Taken and adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 2008) pp 36-38. 4
December 12 THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD Ephesians 6.10-17 Larry Price Do you remember childhood and living without fear? I do and have longed for the ability to whole heartily trust in God and to have the bliss of no fear again.
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so you stand against the wiles of the evil one. If we step back to the times before fear and remember how we felt, how we seemed to always be protected, and lead to a greater understanding of all that was surrounding us. We are on the road to finding the trust and assurance God has always promised to each of us. We as humankind tend to be quite defensive in our ways rather than taking the offense to seek out and make the changes that bring us closer to God. Life can be challenging to say the least, but remember the times in your life when you did not try to carry all the burdens of the world on your shoulders. Seek out the quiet, still times where you heart can find the solace that only God can provide. Listen to the small inner voice as God gently nudges you to look to him for relief, be not dismayed by the way of the world, for God is our constant companion, step by step, day by day throughout our entire life. If we sincerely wish to find the true joy of life we must seek out the spirit of living God and make it one with ourselves. Like a river of life pouring out the living waters for cleansing and redemption, the spirit of God can make us complete. It will restore the peace we seek, the joy we need and provide the Whole Armor of God for us to boldly step into each new day. The metaphors of these verses speak to our eternal need for God. The helmet of Salvation, the sword of the spirit, and the word of God are only elements we need to restore ourselves to the way of God and be set free of the self imposed burdens of the world.
Turn back your clock to when all you needed was the love of God as it came to you though parents, teacher, church family and friends and remember we can all soar on the wing of eagles when we allow the spirit of the Lord to wrap us in the Armor of his own desire. Live again as a child simply trusting and obeying for there is no other way. Let rocks and rills of life pass on by as the Lord is your Shepherd and master of sea guides you to a new day. No peril is too great for God when we simply trust and obey as we did when we began this lifeâ€˜s journey. Raise you voice in praise to the Lord of Lordâ€˜s for there is no other way! You will always be aware that the Armor of the Lord is surrounding those who choose to carry him in their hearts.
Reflect Can you remember a time when you trusted solely in the Lord? What does wearing the whole armor of God look like for you?
December 13 THE DAY OF THE LORD Malachi 3.16-4.6 Nancy Declaisse-Walford Malachi 3:16-4:6 doesn't sound much like an Advent meditation. Words such as "a day coming, burning like an oven" in 4:1; and "the great and terrible day of the Lord" in 4:5 don't feel very "Christmassy." But let's look closer. In this passage, the prophet Malachi is speaking about "the day of the Lord" (4:5). Most people in Malachi's time looked forward to "the day of the Lord" as one in which God's mighty warrior would come from heaven and conquer any and all who were oppressing the Jewish people. The prophets like Malachi also believed there would be "a day of the Lord," but they believed that day would be very different from what most folk imagined. "The day of the Lord" would be the day when God would come into the world, not as a conquering warrior, but as someone who would quietly impact the world in a way that no one ever imagined. And what about the reference to Elijah in 4:5? Well, 1 Kings 19 tells us that after a disturbing encounter with Jezebel, Elijah fled to Mt. Sinai to hide. While there, he encountered God, but in way he could never have imagined. First Elijah felt a great wind, but God was not in the wind; then an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake; then he saw a fire, but God was not in the fire. Finally God came to Elijah in "a still small voice," but better understood as "sheer silence." How Elijah must have felt! No fanfare; no earth-shattering moment; just sheer silence. And for us? Just a baby in a manger, one who would grow up and impact the world like no one ever had. So, this Advent season, find the time to go and stand on your mountain; be still . . . and hear the sound of the coming of the day of the Lord . . . in sheer silence . . . Happy Christmas!
Reflect Where does your mind go when you sit in sheer silence? Do you feel the presence of the Lord when you do? 26
December 14 THE COMING OF ELIJAH Mark 9.9-13 Ann Marchbanks 9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. 11 Then they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" 12 He said to them, "Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him." (Mark 9.9-13) Jesus is preparing his disciples for his suffering, death and resurrection. Elijah is the one that will prepare the way and make all things right for the second coming of the Son of Man, like John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah in the beginning. Are you ready for Jesus to come? What do you need to do to make things right before the coming of the Lord. Maybe you are dealing with a broken relationship, or struggling with major decisions in your life. What changes do you need to make, to experience the fullness of Christ during the Advent Season? In Psalm 51 David writes "Create in me a clean heart, O God and put a new and right spirit within me."
Reflect What do you feel God preparing you for? How can you assist God, like Elijah, in preparing for the second coming of Christ?
December 15 SUPREMACY OF CHRIST Hebrews 1.1-4 Ginie Anthony When I saw this sunset at the beach in 2008, I was awe-struck. It made me think of the "radiance of God's glory." I thanked God for providing me the opportunity to capture the moment and save it as a photo. I wondered if I would ever see a sunset as magnificent again on this side of heaven. While it was only a sunset, what it signified to me was more than the end of a day. Have you ever set down and tried to contemplate and comprehend the majesty and greatness of God? It is so vast that my little human mind simply cannot grasp it. I look at the beauty in nature that God has provided us here on earth, where we dwell, and I see the unending expanse of the sky. I think of the symmetry I see: land and water, earth and sky; sunlight of day and moonlight of night; the cold of winter, the heat of summer; the splendor of autumn just before the foliage dies and the newness of life in the rebirth of spring; old testament and new testament; sin and forgiveness; death and eternal life. For me, this passage from Hebrews 1:1-4 speaks volumes about the greatness of God and His plan. It addresses God's relationship with our forefathers and how he spoke to them, then moves into the present and reassures us that God has spoken to us through His Son. But just in case we think that being spoken to by His Son is something "less" than being spoken to by God, it affirms that God made His Son the appointed heir of ALL things and that He made the universe through HIM. This passage assures us that the supremacy of Jesus was established by our creator.
Reflect How do you see supremacy of Christ in your life? What does the majesty of the universe make you think about?
December 16 JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR! Hebrews 1.5-14 Jeff Strong Do you know Jesus Christ and the power he holds? Most of us would say Jesus is the son of God. Of course you would be right, but what does it mean to be the ―Son of God‖ and to have the power of Jesus Christ? Hebrews 1:5-14 tells us Jesus Christ is the supreme ruler of the universe. He‘s greater than everything! Scripture sets a strong case indicating he is of the infinite deity and supremacy as the eternal Holy God. Scripture also tells us angels were called the ―sons of God.‖ But, if the angels are the called ―sons of God,‖ and Jesus is the ―Son of God,‖ does that make Jesus an angel? Not sure, but what I do know is the ―Son of God‖ is the title proclaiming him superior to every creature on earth; even the angels in heaven. Now you may ask, ―Well, who are the angels?‖ No, not a major league baseball team; God‘s angels are heavenly bodies that work in heaven and are sent to serve God and humanity. The role of all angels is to worship Jesus Christ. Angels also serve to protect, discipline and escort the people into heaven. Angels prepare us to pay more attention to what Jesus has revealed from the father; I‘m guessing our salvation and eternal life. Paraphrasing part of Hebrews 1.8-12: Your thrown, O God, is forever and ever. The earth and all that dwell on it will perish, but you will continue and never change. Your years will never run out. The main theme to recognize from the scripture is the eternal life of God‘s son, Jesus Christ. His days have no beginning and no end even though we do. From the book, The Personal Nature of God, the book of Hebrews presents Christ as the being whom the Father brought the world of space and time into 29
existence, and who sustains all things by his powerful word. Scripture, therefore, reveals Jesus not only created the universe, but he also sustains it! Now I ask again, do you know Jesus Christ and the power he holds? Hopefully we would all say Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Supreme ruler of the universe about all things! Jesus Christ, superstar, you‘re number one and You know you are! You rule the world, watch over us every day and night, You always love us no matter if we‘re wrong or right… You were born of this earth and you died for our sins, And we know Jesus; you would do it again… So why does this world struggle and fight, When all we need to do is to look for the light… The light is the world from the father, you speak, Please forgive us Jesus, because we are so weak… Jesus Christ, Superstar, you‘re number one and WE know you are!
Reflect Do you know and see the power of Christ in your life? What does it look like? How has Jesus been a superstar in your life?
December 17 THE UNBELIEF OF THOSE IN AUTHORITY John 7.45-52 John Adams John 7:45-52 is an excellent example of authority that needs to be challenged. We do not need to question every authority or person in power, whether in our government or our churches. Yet there are times when we must trust that there might be another way. Jesus birth calls us to a different way, a narrow path. During this next year we will be bombarded by ads for political candidates. What does it mean when every candidate is throwing stones and virtually singing the same old song? ―All is waste in Washington‖, ―The other candidate is totally wrong‖, ―Trust me; the other candidate is lying‖… If we have been around for past election cycles we are familiar with these refrains. Doesn‘t it get old? Jesus came bearing a very different song. His birth brought about a challenge to the old ways of doing life; particularly the life of faith. He never told anyone to go home and just read their Bible or follow the Ten Commandments. He did not come to destroy these scared documents. He came to teach us to look for the deeper message and listen more deeply to a new refrain – GOD IS LOVE. For Christ, it was all about relationships. His invitation was to see that the ancient text and instructions were about drawing us closer to the Holy Father. He called us to justice and mercy. He said we are to be bearers of grace. To listen to the ‗authorities‘ in our life, particularly when they all sound alike, may cause us to miss the deeper message. Our preparation for Jesus arrival again this season is an opportunity to not join the crowd, but to listen for a different way than authorities or our culture promotes. We are invited to hear a new voice.
Reflect What does being a bearer of grace look like to you? What deeper message may you be missing because of the authorities in your life? 31
Love ―We become truly personal by loving God and by loving other humans…In its deepest sense; love is the life, the energy, of the Creator in us.‖ -Kallistos Ware
December 18 TRUE RELIGION Luke 1.39-45 Richard Rohr When it comes to the gift of contemplation, every major religion in the world has come to very similar conclusions. Every religion – Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, the eastern religions—all agree, but each in its own way, that finally we‘re called to a transformed consciousness, a new mind or being ―born again‖ a second time in some way. Each religion has different words for it, and probably different experiences, but somehow they all point to union with God. Religion is about union. Somehow to live in conscious union with God is what it means to be ―saved.‖ The word religio means ―to retie‖ – to rebuild reality together, to reconnect things so that we know as Jesus did that ―I and the Father are one‖ (John 10.30). To live in that place is to experience and enjoy the Great Connection, to live in a place where all things are one, ―with me in them and you in me‖ (John 17.23). When world religions become that mature, we will have a new history, no longer based on competition, rivalry, cultures or warfare, but on people who are actually transformed (Gal 6.15-16). These people will change the world, as Mary did, almost precisely because they know it is not they who are doing the changing. They will know they do not need to change other people, just themselves. God takes it from there.5
Reflect How can you bring the gift of contemplation into your prayer life? What in your life do you need to transform this Advent season?
Taken and adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 2008) pp 60-61. 5
December 19 POWER, PRESTIGE and POSSESSIONS Luke 1.46b-55 Richard Rohr In Jesus‘ consistent teaching and Mary‘s great Magnificat, both say that there are three major obstacles to the coming of the reign of God. I call them the three P‘s: power, prestige and possessions. Mary refers to them as ―the proud,‖ ―the mighty on thrones‖ and ―the rich.‖ These, she says, God is ―routing,‖ ―pulling down‖ and ―sending away empty.‖ We can easily take nine-tenths of Jesus‘ teachings and align it under one of these three categories; our attachments to power, prestige and possessions are obstacles to God‘s coming. Why could we not see that? For some reason, we tend to localize evil in our bodies more than in our mind, heart and spirit. We are terribly ashamed of our embodiment, and our shame is invariably located in addictive things like drinking, drugs, sex, overeating, and body image. Maybe that is why God had to become a ―body‖ in Jesus! God needed to tell us it was good to be a human body. That is central and pivotal to the Christmas message. I‘m surely for a proper sexual morality, but Jesus never once says this is the core issue. They tend to be sins of weakness or addiction, more than malice or power. In fact, Jesus says that the ―prostitutes are getting into the kingdom of God‖ before some of us who have made easy bedfellows with power, prestige and possessions (Matt 21.31). These are the attitudes that numb the heart, allow us to make very egocentric judgments and dull our general spiritual perception. For some reason, much of Christian history has chosen not to see this, and we have localized evil in other places than Jesus did. It is the sins of our mind and heart (see Matt 5.20-48) that make the Big Picture almost impossible to see. This teaching is hidden in plain sight, but once we see it in text after text, we can‘t any longer ―unsee‖ it. Mary seems to have seen long, deep and lovely.6
Reflect How are these three ―P‘s‖ preventing you from entering the kingdom? Taken and adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 2008) pp 61-63. 6
December 20 PLAYING GOD Hebrews 8.1-13 James Allen Have you ever wanted to be God? Certain well-known figures of history had a desire for that status, and some even set themselves up as God or at least as a demi-god without much of a future or success. Usually, persons who study the Bible and pray on a regular basis have a better understanding of god and the many facets of His being – all powerful, knowing, loving and is everywhere at all times. I am thankful this Advent and Christmas season that God is who he is. I do not want that job with the responsibility of having to make the decisions God has to make. I am also thankful that God‘s decisions are always perfect. It would appear, in a casual reading of scripture that God made a mistake in the first covenant made with the Children of Israel. He promised to make of them a great and holy nation. He would be their God and they would be his people. Unfortunately, the Hebrew people did not keep their side of the covenant, which was to obey the laws of God given to Moses on the mountain. Instead, they wanted to play and make their own decisions and go their own way. As a result, God in His infinite wisdom knew that the initial covenant had to be replaced because of the failure, of His chosen people, to keep the covenant. In God‘s perfect wisdom a new covenant was made with His people where He would put His laws on their minds and write them on their hearts. He would continue to be their God and they would be His people forever and ever. All will know Him because of His grace and mercy shown thru His son, Jesus. I am so thankful this Advent and Christmas Season that God is God and that I am a recipient of His eternal love thru His Son, Jesus, the Savior of the world. Thanks be to God for this new covenant of Grace!
Reflect How do you understand God‘s love for your life? 35
December 21 LIVING LOVE Mark 11.1-11 Marion and Martha Hope God is love in its most perfect form. We were created by God to love others as He loves us. By showing love to others, we honor and glorify His unwavering love for us. He is most pleased when we are able to demonstrate his unconditional love. Jesus showed the greatest depth of love and devotion by dying so that we could have the joy of eternal life with our heavenly Father. Through our belief in him, we have been given the strength and knowledge to show his love to everyone with whom we have contact. Through my many years of experience, I have come to believe that love means: - putting others happiness and well being as my priority - giving support without judgment - forgiving because I understand that all humans make mistakes - cheering the strengths in others; showing understanding for their faults - attempting to live daily with good deeds, patience and kindness - taking full responsibility for the effect my actions have on others - cultivating self love in order to better love others - preparing and sharing a meal - making sacrifices and compromises without resentment or expectations - expressing ―I love you,‖ then reinforcing through my actions - looking for large and small ways to help others - praying for the wisdom and self discipline to enable me to better live love - showing perseverance, faithfulness, and trustworthiness - sharing tears and laughter - offering guidance without intent to control - the National Heights Baptist Church ministry and congregation My mother‘s life is a blueprint for how to unselfishly live love. One of my fondest and most comforting memories is her response to me telling her I loved her. She would reliably reply, ―I love you the most – but God loves you even more.‖
Reflect How do you understand God‘s love? 36
December 22 WORSHIP, WITNESS, and WAIT Psalm 96 Sharon Stephens
―Oh Lord, our God, how excellent is they name in all the earth.‖ This Psalm is thought to be composed by David at the bringing back of the Ark of the Covenant. The Psalmist is telling us to sing praises to God. We are to praise Him and tell others of his greatness and the blessings he bestows upon us. When we praise God we are being a witness to others! We can do this by playing Christian CD‘s at home, in our car, or on our iPod. One day I was getting gas and a lady drove up in her little red convertible with the radio blasting Christian music. I loved it! She was witnessing to all of us as we were filling up our cars with gas, just by playing her Christian music. I was thinking, ―She is doing just what the Psalmist said.‖ This Psalm says we are to be in awe of God. I think the Chris Tomlin song, ―Indescribable,‖ says it perfectly. He sings, Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name, You are amazing God, all powerful, untamable, Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim, You are amazing God! This Psalm also tells us that He is coming to judge the earth, but He will judge fairly, and with truth. So worship, witness, and wait!
Reflect What songs speak of God‘s love to you? What does true worship look like for you?
December 23 RESTORATION . . . NOT NOSTALGIA Zephaniah 3.14-20 Bill Scarbrough For many of us Christmas music sets the expectation for a happy, merry joyful season. I watched recently as our one year old grandson, Matthew, heard some Christmas music being played. His facial countenance changed immediately. A wide happy smile spread across his face and his eyes twinkled with joy. Doesn‘t the same thing happen to us as we hear the strains of Christmas music in the malls, on the radio or television, and in our churches? Think of some of the words of the Christ tunes: ―‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la‖ ―Have a holly, jolly, Christmas. It‘s the best time of the year.‖ ―Love and joy come to you and to you your wassail too.‖ ―Joy to the World the Lord is come.‖ Most people thrive on all the joy and the happiness of the season. They love the happiness of family get-togethers. Most of us manage to overcome the busyness and the hassle of the season and genuinely find this to be a wonderful time of year. Yet, I am keenly aware that Christmas is not a happy time for everybody. In 1948 Jay W. Johnson wrote the words of a song that was later popularized by Elvis. The words go like this: ―I‘ll have a Blue Christmas without you. I‘ll be so blue thinking about you. Decorations of reed on a green Christmas Tree won‘t mean a thing if you‘re not her with me.‖ The song gained popularity because it hit a nerve with so many people. All the happiness themes of Christmas sons remind some people of what they have lost or what they have never had. Some grieve over the death or loss of a loved one. Others face the hurt of divorce or fret over the tensions within their family. Some are lonely because they have no family. Others battle will ill-health. 38
Zephaniah is just the sort of prophet to bring good news to those who suffer from a Blue Christmas. He was God‘s prophet in Judah during the reign of King Josiah. Zephaniah offered a sweeping message of judgment in the first section of this little book, but then as he ends his message, he moves from destruction to healing. The prophet promises suffering, but then he dwells on the message of restoration. He looks beyond the suffering of Judah to the glorious future that God has prepared for them. Later Jesus would pick up on these same themes and paint a dramatic vision of the Kingdom of God and our hope for restoration and eternal life. Zephaniah‘s prescription for finding a message of hope for the holidays include (1) staying busy, v. 16. Do not give in to your depression. Go through the motions even when you feel that is all you are doing. (2) Listen to the music, v. 17. Put yourself in the place to experience God‘s exalting over you with loud singing. (3) Remember God is in your midst, v. 17. He will rejoice over you, so live forward, not backward. (4) Let the shame go, v. 19. Some people suffer shame at Christmas because of genuine guilt. Remember God offers forgiveness for our guilt. (5) God promises restoration and renewal, v. 18-20. We look back with fondness to the ritual and traditions of the past. But God is calling us to the future. Christmas is not rally about the past. It is about Christ coming again into our hearts this year for restoration and hope. Zephaniah offers a message of hope but it is decidedly a message for the future. He calls us to new relationships, new visions, and a new coming of God‘s Kingdom. Restoration was hi theme, not nostalgia. Christmas is the promise that God can be trusted to meet all our needs. Therefore, rejoice!
Reflect What is God‘s future look like to you? What needs restoring in your life? How have you seen God renew you this year?
December 24 CONTEXT AND MEANING Luke 2:1-20 Robin North This is the familiar story of Jesus' birth. We see Caesar Augustus taking stock of his power. We feel the anxiety of the travelers Joseph and Mary. We are fascinated by the lowly shepherds. The shepherds are tending their flocks out in the open countryside. The angles appear, invoke fear, and bestow upon them the good news of great joy. They revel in the revelation and then go to see for themselves. They tell their story, corroborate each other‘s account and then leave, praising all the way back to their flocks. I wonder what they did next. Did they stare at the sky watching for another vision? Did they sit around the campfire and tell the story again and again? Did they fall quiet and, by morning‘s light, convince themselves it was nothing more than a dream? Did they mumble some dismissive comment – almost embarrassed to admit anything happened at all? Such is experiential faith: good for the moment – not so good for the long haul. Experience is only one facet of faith. When taken alone, it lasts only as long as the experience itself, requiring a new experience to bloom again. Experience was never meant to do the heavy lifting of faith. That requires the companions of reflection, study and community. We need to situate experience so that it takes on meaning within a context. The experience of the Christmas story feels huge when we first hear it. Over the years, if we do not reflect on and study it, the story is reduced to nothing more than a sweet tradition. Yet if we dare to reflect upon it, study it and integrate it into our community, we find the oversized-suit-of-a-story fits as we become the hands and feet that makes the story real.
Reflect How do you see this HUGE story fitting into your life? How have you experienced the truth of the Christmas story? 40
Christ ―God‘s gifts put man‘s best dreams to shame.‖ –Elizabeth Barrett Browning
*Art submitted by Bethanie Strong 41
Christmas Day GOD SPEAKS Hebrews 1.1-4 Barrett Owen Hebrews begins with a sound, the sound of a preacher‘s voice: ―In many fractions, fashions and in foreign times -- God speaks.‖ No matter where or when Hebrews is read, even when it is read silently and alone, it transports us into the sanctuary. Its metered measures evoke the ethos of worship and the familiar tempo of proclamation. I believe Hebrews is meant to be a sermon. So our passage today – being the very beginning of the sermon – is the hook, the opening remarks, the verbiage that draws the audience in. The hook is, ―God Speaks.‖ God breaks through the silence and transcends the distance by speaking. Speech is an active interruption of silence; therefore, God is actively interrupting our life‘s flow. God is like the sunrise breaking free from darkness or an earthquake shaking the foundations. God‘s voice breaks chains. God‘s voice intersects on our behalf. God‘s voice actively interrupts our moments with a holy summons, a disturbance, a voice of revelation. Our lives change when God speaks. And nothing speaks louder than the day God‘s kingdom gets inaugurated. There‘s debate over when and where this happens, but for me it starts with the Incarnation (the birth of Jesus). The birth of Jesus is the in-breaking of God into this world. And Hebrews picks up on this language by saying, ―Jesus is the heir of all things‖ and ―the reflection of God‘s glory.‖ We will do well to remember the majesty and importance of Christ‘s birth. It reminds us that God meets us where we are, wraps himself in our dust, and shows us how to live.
Reflect Where do you see God speaking? What do you hear God saying? How is Jesus the fullness of God‘s glory for you? 42
December 26 WE KNOW Luke 2.21-40 Steve Declaisse-Walford Can you imagine it? Mary, a nobody, married to a nobody, consigned by lack of hotel space to a stable in the back streets of Bethlehem, has a baby. Within minutes, it seems, she is surrounded by shepherds proclaiming the wonder of her child. She begins to understand God‘s gift of a son is not a gift to her alone, but to the world. Days later, following the rules of the Law (see Exodus 13:2), she and her husband go to the Temple for the ritual of dedication and naming of their first born son. There, first Simeon, who performs Jesus‘ circumcision, and then Anna, an ancient temple prophetess, proclaim the significant role Jesus will play in the future of Judaism and the world. What must Mary and Joseph have been thinking as they trudged their weary way back to Nazareth? What kind of future did their son face? What did Simeon mean when he said that Jesus was destined for the rising and falling of many in Israel, and that a sword would pierce Mary‘s own soul (vv 34,35)? And what did Anna mean about the redemption of Israel (v. 38)? Poor Joseph and Mary. It is doubtful they ever knew or understood the vital role their son would play in the redemption of humankind. But we know, don‘t we? We know that that little manger baby who grew up and became strong and filled with wisdom and the favor of God lived for us and died for us. And that really is all we need to know isn‘t it? That God so loved the word he gave his only begotten son so that all who believed in him would have eternal life? In this Advent season, let us dwell prayerfully and thankfully on this gift.
Reflect What does the gift of Christ mean to you? How does Jesus‘ life affect the way you live yours?
December 27 THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD John 1.1-14 Marc Bramblett The life of Christ, his birth, ministry , death and resurrection, has become the pivotal event in history. Time is measured by His life, B.C. and A.D. John reaches a point in his Christology beyond which he can go no further. Christ was the Word who was with God and was God. He was the creator and the source of life. Christ is the light of men whose sin-darkened souls were confounded by his luminosity. John the Baptist bore witness to the Light that was Christ. He brings Light to all people whom he has created. Christ confronts each person with the necessity of decision. Many reject His light but those who respond in faith become the Children of God. Those who believe upon His name experience new birth. This spiritual regeneration comes not by blood, flesh or men but from God. Christ has given God a face and shown us Godâ€˜s heart. He has glory as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. Christ brought this light into a world shrouded with darkness. Life spans were short, women were treated as property, wars were frequent and the Jews were the slaves of imperial Rome. Christ had a vision of life as it could and should be. He was killed for his efforts. He inspired people as no one else has. Christ created hope for a redeemed humanity. The world still lives in darkness, but the Light shines on. Rejoice!
Reflect What does it mean for Jesus to be the light of the world? Where do you see Godâ€˜s redemption in your own life?
December 28 DON‘T FORGET THE DIRECTIONS Matthew 2.13-18 Sharon Hembree I usually like to get direction before I travel places. I guess I fear I might get lost and not make it to my destination or worry about everything down the road. Our journey is just like this in regards to our plans for the future. We like to have it all planned out and know what to expect for tomorrow. Usually our worries don‘t even come true. It is good to plan and prepare for it gives us a sense of security, but many of us have experienced an unexpected incident that suddenly changed the rest of our lives. My daughter told me once that she was traveling somewhere with her boyfriend, but he wanted to get the direction first. She told him not to worry that she would tell him which way to go as they travel, because if she told him everything at once, it may get overwhelming and confusing. How many of us listen for Christ‘s voice each day? We should because Jesus is always there for us and will guide us if we trust Him. I think we miss out on a lot of God‘s blessings when we choose to go our own way. I hope in 2012 we all choose to follow God‘s directions . . . and not our own.
Reflect So how do we know if we are on the right path? Do the places we go and thing we do honor God and respect others?
December 29 BREAKING OPEN THE WORD Matthew 1.20 Richard Rohr We have a lot to learn from the people like Quakers and Mennonites. They are well practiced in being a minority. They don‘t need to have crowds around them to believe that it is the truth. They gather in little groups and share the Word of God. And that, thank God, is what is also happening again in the global church. We call them the ―base communities‖ of Latin America or the ―Bible study groups‖ of America and Europe. Breaking open the Word of God cannot depend on people like me, theologians or people who have studied professionally. If that would be true, then 99 percent of humanity will never have access to God‘s Word. These faith-sharing groups are directed not by a professional teacher or an expert, but rather what we call a facilitator or animator – one who holds the group together and knows what questions to ask to keep people searching and praying. The groups read a Gospel text, sometimes three times and then they ask questions: What threatens them in the text? What makes them excited about that text? What is really challenging in that text? What do they think Jesus is really talking about? What was the world situation when Jesus told that particular story? Are there any comparable situations today to which this text might apply? Do you really think Joseph understood what was happening? Was his trust in Mary, his dreams and the visions of angels total certitude? Really? Was it actually faith? Such questions are allowed and encouraged. Whatever gave us the idea that one little select group of similarity educated people would best understand what God was to all people? The Word of God is being given back to the poor. The Word of God is being given back to the uneducated and the imprisoned. The Word of God is being given back to women. The Word of God is being given back to non-celibates (for us in the 46
Catholic church). The Word of God is being given back to someone other than those who are the employees of the religious system. What we are finding is that the Word of God is being read with a vitality, a truth and often a freedom that is exciting, much more challenging and often making us wonder if we have ever understood it before. Just try it. This will not lessen the authority of the church or the Scriptures, but only increase it because we will have spiritual adults in our midst. Spiritual adults do not overreact or think dualistically, but they listen and learn and grow.
Reflect What simple messages from the Gospel are you missing?
December 30 GOD IS WITH US 1 John 4 Barrett Owen Christmas is the moment when Jesus breaks through the barriers of sin, doubt, hurt, and guilt to declare with his presence that God is forever with us. First John says that everyone who loves experiences this Jesus, for Jesus is God and God is love. This means every child, business woman, murderer, school teacher, convict, secretary, homeless person, father, mother, drug addict, rapist, homosexual, left-handed, left-minded, liberal democrat, heterosexual, righthanded, right-leaning, republican experiences Jesus Christ. Every choir member, single mother with three kids, divorced father who loses parental custody and widower gets to experience the birth child. Every Muslim, politician, social worker, farmer, businessman, Israeli, stock broker, hair dresser, and Palestinian get to experience God‘s surrendered love. Christmas is about t us experiencing the incarnation of Jesus. It‘s about heaven breaking into earth and never leaving; it‘s about the inauguration of God‘s kingdom and it‘s about our lives being redeemed by love. Humanity carries with it the Christmas story. The life and times of Jesus remains in the life and times of all people. Anyone who loves, anyone who celebrates joy, gets to experience the incarnation. They experience the Christ child. They encounter God. For it is in Jesus‘ birth that a life-giving power is released to the entire world. This power unlocks our ability to love and gives us a truth in which no language or legend seems extravagant enough to fully grasp.
Reflect How have you experienced the Christ Child this Christmas? How do you want this experience to change your life for 2012? 48
December 31 A NEW SEASON Ecclesiastes 3.1-13 Noelle Owen As 2011 draws to an end, we store away Christmas decorations and draft New Year‘s Resolutions. We‘ve sung the carols, opened the presents, got through another holiday season, and maybe even breathed a sigh of relief that all of the family gatherings and Christmas events are over – now what? When we celebrate Advent, we celebrate the coming of the Christ child and the anticipation of Christ‘s return to earth. Advent, after all, means ―arrival.‖ While we may look at a new year as the end of a hectic holiday or the end of 2011, Advent is really a beginning, a birth, and a rebirth. Ecclesiastes says, ―There‘s a season for everything and a season for every activity under the sun.‖ Throughout our lives, we undergo many seasons. Just as spring comes each year, so do joys, sorrows, challenges, and disappointments. Sometimes, we are impatient to hurry through a season, especially the unpleasant ones. Others we hold onto, desperate for just more snowflake long after the air has warmed. With Advent we experience Emmanuel – God with us. Emmanuel does not end with the holiday season. God‘s presence and our receiving of Christ aren‘t seasonal. Rather, Advent reminds us that it begins afresh, offers a new season of birth, death, and resurrection. In the church we also have many seasons – Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. We recognize and celebrate God‘s ongoing work in the world each year through the cyclical nature of our calendar. In our church life, we experience these seasons as a community. We walk through the calendar, experiencing collective disappointment, hope, fear, and restoration. Let 2012 be the year that each of us as an individual and a church experience the richness of living fully within the present season with the knowledge that, no matter the season, we can experience Emmanuel.
Reflect What season are you in? As you enter 2012, how can you carry Emmanuel? 49
Family Traditions and Memories For many people, the holidays are a time of gathering with family and friends. Family traditions emerge out of the celebration of the season. The following sentences honor those special traditions and memories that have developed over the years.
Every Christmas since my oldest grandchild arrived 17 years ago, we have always had a birthday cake for Jesus in addition to our other desserts on Christmas Day. -Helen Odom We have a ‗Christmas Train‘ running around the base of our Christmas tree. The grandkids love to take turns being the ‗conductor.‘ -John Adams and Family Every year I put out pictures of all my animals that I have lost over the years. -Carol Paramore When I was a child in England, on Christmas Eve I would write my Christmas wish lists on fine paper, fold it up, and then send it up the chimney of our blazing coal fire, supposedly to Santa‘s Polar world. -Steve Declaisse-Walford Each advent season in our home, we display several nativity scenes from around the world, reminding us that the ―light of the world is Jesus.‖ -The Relyeas We enjoy the smell of pine while cutting down a Christmas tree. - The Turners
As a Christmas tradition brought over from Jim's Mom, we wrap each other's individual presents in the same patterned paper with one present being especially nicely trimmed. Jim's is usually wrapped in red and mine in gold. It looks nice to have 2 different colors under the tree. We can open one present on Christmas Eve and the rest have to wait until Christmas morning after Santa comes. -The Robbins One of our Christmas traditions we started when the kids were very small was that I would bake a birthday cake for Jesus, and we could sing happy birthday to Him. – The Stephens During my aunt‘s battle with cancer, we started a family tradition in honor of her – we open gifts on Christmas Eve wearing matching pajamas. - Barrett Owen Learning to laugh at oneself and acknowledge human frailty is a highly valued quality in our family. So much so, that every year we hold a ceremony to crown the family member who made the biggest blunder during the year. We treat it like the academy awards, with nominations, cartoon video clips and the presentation of an ugly Tiki figure draped in gaudy Mardi-Gras beads to be proudly displayed by the recipient until the next ceremony. - The Norths For the past twenty years, a Christmas Eve tradition at our house has been to watch "The Muppet Christmas Carol." - Nancy Declaisse-Walford This tradition was begun when Papa and I only had three grandchildren but it continues till now when we have ten. Each child receives a small wrapped gift each of the ten days preceding Christmas! - Jerry Bramblett Having another white Christmas spent with family and friends. – Pat and Larry Price 51
A family tradition has been to bake special cookies or candies that we only make during the Christmas holiday season. – Ginee Anthony Every year I put together a Victorian Christmas Tree! - Betsy Phifer I put a bird‘s nest with birds in the inner branches of the Christmas tree. - Doris Swan Because it is our first Christmas as a married couple, we are still developing our special traditions. This year, we made homemade ornaments for our first Christmas tree. - The Owens Every Christmas our family enjoys getting together on Christmas Eve night. We eat, talk, laugh, and exchange gifts. Then we like to attend the candlelight service before we end the night so that we don‘t forget God‘s gift to us . . . Jesus, the most special gift of all. He is the light for our path. – Sharon Hembree Every year I make Orestus vegetable soup on his birthday, December 22, in honor of the Little Bear Stories ―Birthday Soup‖ by Else Holmelund Minarik. - Charlotte Adamson
Recipes Over the sacred space of a table, families and friends come together to share the nourishment of a meal and the warmth of community. The following dishes can be found on the holiday tables of our church members.
Cheese Crispers 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (sharp) 1/3 cup butter, softened ¾ cup plain flour ½ tsp salt 1 ¼ cup Rice Krispies Blend all ingredients together. Pinch off mixture and roll into balls. Place on cookie sheet. Press down with end of fork. Bake. It also freezes well. Submitted by Suzanne Scarbrough
Christmas Cranberry Punch 8 (6 oz) cans lemonade concentrate 2 quarts ginger ale 2 pints lemon sherbet 1 (8 oz) bottle cranberry juice cocktail Combine ginger ale, lemonade, and juice. Mix well and add sherbet. Float ice ring in punch bowl. Yield: 1 gallon Submitted by Sharon Hembree 53
Sour Cream Mini-Muffins 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 2 cups self-rising flour 1 cup regular or reduced fat sour cream Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or spray miniature muffin pans. In a large bowl, combine the butter and flour using a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture is crumbly. (You can also blend in a food processor). Stir the sour cream in thoroughly. The batter will be very stiff. Drop by small spoonfuls into muffin tins. Bake 20 minutes or until golden. 83 calories / muffin Submitted by Jerry Bramblett
Cranberry Relish 1 pound cranberries 2 apples 2 oranges 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 lemon, juiced (an optional ingredient) 1 can drained, crushed pineapple 2 ounces brandy or Grand Marnier Â˝ Cup Chopped Pecans Chop the cranberries in a manual food chopper- NOT a food processor. Chop the apples and the oranges into small cubes with their skins. Chop nuts in small pieces with a hand chopper. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Allow the flavors to blend overnight or for several hours in the refrigerator. Relish may be frozen. Submitted by Pat and Larry Price, courtesy of Gay Ingegneri, The Cranbury Inn 54
Christmas Corn Salad 1 large can whole kernel yellow corn, drained 1 large cucumber peeled and sliced into small bits 1 bunch green onions cut into small pieces (tops included) 1 red bell pepper cut into small bits Paprika to taste Â˝ cup French dressing Put corn, cucumber, onions, and bell pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add dressing and toss carefully until coated. Top with paprika. Let sit covered in the refrigerator at least 3-4 hour to absorb the complete taste. This can be topped with fresh parsley to complete the Christmas look. Before serving, drain the excess dressing juices from the bowl. Submitted by Carol Paramore
Vegetable Beef Soup Beef â€“ cooked until very tender; cut in bite size pieces Beef broth and water Onions Tomatoes (canned and/or fresh) Other vegetables that you like suck as diced potatoes, baby lima beans, okra, corn, carrots, etc. *Thereâ€˜s no set amount for the ingredients; you be the judge. Add meat and vegetables to broth, season to taste. Simmer until vegetables are done. Great with cornbread. Submitted by Charlotte and Orestus Adamson
Stirring Fruitcake 1 pound candied cherries ½ pound candied pineapple, white ½ pound candied pineapple, green 3 pints shelled nuts, pecans ¼ pound raisins, white 1 cup sugar ½ pound butter 4 large eggs 1 cup self-rising flour 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 teaspoons almond extract 2 teaspoons cake mix spice (apple pie spice will do) Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add flour and spices; beat well. Add fruits and nuts, coarsely chopped. Pour into large greased pan and put into 375 degree oven. After 15 minutes, stir. Do this two more times. Have ready, a tube cake pan lined with brown paper and greased. Pack cake batter into it and cook another 15 minutes. Let stand in pan 15 minutes before removing. Submitted by Vivian C. Bullock
Martha Washington Candy 2 boxes of 4X powdered sugar 2 sticks of butter (softened at room temperature) 1 cup finely chopped pecans 1 can condensed milk Step 1: Mix together, then roll into small balls. Chill for a couple of hours or overnight. Step 2: 56
8 large squares of Chocolate (from a baking chocolate block not candy bar) 1/2 block paraffin Melt in sauce pan over low heat. Remove from heat, let cool for 2 minutes. Step 3: Place candy ball on toothpick and dip into the chocolate coating. Place on wax paper to cool. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Submitted by Ginie Anthony
Starlight Sugar Twist 1 package dry yeast ¼ cup very warm water (105-115 degrees) 3½ cups flour 1½ tsp salt ½ cup butter ½ cup shortening 2 eggs, beaten ½ cup sour cream 3 tsp vanilla 1 cup raw sugar In a small bowl dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup: level off. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter and shortening with pastry blender until particles are size of small peas. Add beaten eggs, sour cream, vanilla and softened yeast. Mix well. Cover and chill for 2 hrs. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl combine sugar and 2 tsp vanilla. Sprinkle ¼ cup flavored sugar on pastry cloth or board. Divide chilled dough in half and roll out to a 16x18 inch rectangle. Sprinkle dough with1tbsp of flavored sugar. Fold dough to make 3 layers: sprinkle with 1tbsp of sugar after each fold Roll out again to a 16x18 inch rectangle. Sprinkle wit sugar. Cut into thirty-two 4x1 inch strips. Twist 2 or three times place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and sugar. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until light golden brown. 57
Makes about five dozen. *Easiest if baked on parchment paper. Submitted by Doris Swan
Cherry Cheese Cake Danish 2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese 2 tube croissant rolls Â˝ cup granulated sugar 1 egg white 1 cup vanilla 1 cup confectioner sugar 2 tbsp milk 2 cans cherry pie filling PREHEAT OVEN TO 325 and let cream cheese set out about ten to fifteen minutes to soften. Spread one tube of croissant rolls on the bottom of cake pan. Take egg break and use only egg white, add granulated sugar, vanilla, cream cheese, cream with mixer for few minutes till blended. Spread rolls on bottom of pan, with a spoon spread cream cheese mixture of to the side, you can put pie filling in center. Move with spoon out to ends some of cherry filling and then use the other tube of croissant rolls on top of the filling. Bake 25 minutes using a knife to check to see if bottom of layer of croissant rolls are done. Let cool. In small bowl mix confectioner sugar with 1 or 2 tbls milk, and then if cool drizzle icing on top. Store in refrigerator and put in finger size pieces of small squares. Enjoy! Submitted by Betsy Phifer
Hershey Bar Pie 1 full size Hershey bar 1 chocolate wafer pie crust 1 tub of cool whip Melt Hershey bar in double boiler. Add to tub of Cool Whip. Mix the 2 ingredients together with a spatula. As chocolate hardens, you will see slivers of chocolate form. Pour ingredients into pie crust. Put into freezer for 2-4 hours. Garnish with chocolate shavings or sprinkles before serving. Submitted by Jim and Beva Robbins
Red Velvet Cake Cake
1 ½ cups sugar 1 cup butter flavored Crisco 2 eggs 2.5 cups cake flour 2 oz red food coloring 2 tbsp cocoa 1 tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla 1 cup buttermilk 1 ½ tsp soda 1 tbsp vinegar
8oz cream cheese 1 box 10x sugar ¼ cup butter 1 tsp vanilla
Cream sugar and Crisco. Add eggs. Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa. Add to mix with salt and vanilla. Alter butter and flour. Mix soda and vinegar and fold into batter last by hand. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 3 9‖ layers. For icing, beat all ingredients together. Submitted by Sharon Stephens 59
Chocolate Kiss Cookies 1 package sugar cookie mix ½ cup cocoa 1 egg 2 tbsp water ¾ cup finely chopped nuts 1 bag chocolate kisses Heat oven to 350. In medium bowl combine cookie mix, cocoa, egg, and water. Mix with fork until blended. Shape dough into 1‖ balls. Roll balls in nuts. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Immediately press unwrapped kiss into center of each cookie. Makes about 3 ½ dozen cookies. Submitted by Joann Turner
Pecan (not Peanut) Brittle 1 cup pecans (or more!!!)--preferably from Indiana 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1 tbsp butter 1 tsp baking soda 1 cup sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 cup water In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover and stir in pecans. Place candy thermometer in saucepan and cook, without stirring, for 15 minutes. Add butter and salt; cook stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until hard-crack stage (300-310º). Test by dropping a little syrup into very cold water. Syrup should be brittle and snap easily. Stir in baking soda and vanilla. 60
Immediately pour onto well-greased cookie sheet. With wooden spoon, spread as thinly as possible. Let cool and break into pieces. Submitted by Nancy Declaisse-Walford
Boiled Raisin Cake 2 cups sugar 1 cup shortening 1 pound raisins 1 cup pecans 2 tbsp cinnamon 1 tsp all spice Â˝ tsp cloves 1 tsp nutmeg 2 cups water 2 tsp baking soda 2 eggs 2 Â˝ cups sifted flour Mix ingredients except water, baking soda, flour, and eggs together in a saucepan Take 2 cups boiling water and add to the ingredients. Cook for about 10 minutes to plump the raisins. Remove from heat and let mixture cool. Then add 2 tsp of baking soda and let cool more. Add the flour and slightly beaten eggs. Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Submitted by Charlie Jean Hollis
Advent Activities November 27 November 30 December 04 December 10 December 11 December 12 December 18 December 19 December 21 December 24 December 25
10:55am 1:00pm 10:55am 5:30pm 6:30pm 10:55am 6:30pm 10:55am 5:00pm 7:00pm 9:30am
Advent 1: Hanging of the Greens Service on Hope The Sanders Family Christmas ($25/person) Advent 2: Peace Christmas Banquet; Concert feat. Hugh Waddy Blue Christmas Service Advent 3: Joy Christmas Cantata (Dessert Fellowship Following) Advent 4: Love Christmas Caroling (No Wednesday night activities) Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Christmas Breakfast & Worship @ 10:55am
Looking into 2012 Fifth Sunday Special Worship and Lunch January 29; April 29; July 29; September 30; December 30, 2012 Valentines Banquet â€“ February 11, 2012 Easter Egg Hunt and Car Show April 7, 2012 Easter â€“ April 8, 2012
Regular Weekly Opportunities Sunday Morning Sunday School for All Ages 9:45-10:45am Worship 10:55-12pm Wednesday Nights Dinner 6-6:45pm Announcements and Prayer 6:45-7pm Bible Study and Activities for All Ages 7-7:45pm
Ministers and Staff Rev. J. Barrett Owen, Pastor James Allen, Minister of Music Dr. Bill Scarbrough, Pastor Emeritus Sharon Hembree, Church Secretary
National Heights Baptist Church 103 Old Norton Road Fayetteville, GA 30215 770.461.1704 firstname.lastname@example.org pastor@NHBCfayette.com www.nhbcfayette.com