Together! Volume One
Special Advent and Christmas Issue
A Journal about the Ministry of New Millennium Church
Affirmation Affirming Our Oneness and Purpose We praise and worship God together. We petition God, together.
We live for God, in every breath and heartbeat,
We proclaim God, together.
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
We welcome all persons in Godâ€™s love, together.
as followers of Jesus Christ, together.
Inspiration Advent Waiting
We are always waiting, always expecting, and always living with the sense that Christ is coming. We are constantly preparing for Christ to return to the world and usher in a promised age of justice and peace. In the same way that expectant parents prepare nursery rooms for the coming child, Christians live to prepare the world for the return of Jesus. We are busy trying to redecorate the world, re-arrange the world, and re-arrange ourselves so that Christ will find our lives and the world ready.
I approach Advent Season the same way that one does a pregnancy. Expectant parents don't sit around idly. There are things to do as one awaits the arrival of a new baby. When my wife and I were expecting our sons we were busy, although I don't think anyone could have been as busy as she was! Advent season is when followers of Christ celebrate his return. But in a real sense, we are constantly and always in Advent.
So as we enter the Advent Season this year the people of New Millennium are focused on this question? What am I doing to prepare our community and world for Christ to return? What am I doing minute by minute, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to make myself, our community, and our world ready for Christ? What am I doing for Christ to make peace, justice, joy, generosity, compassion, and hope real in the world? Christ is coming again! Let this truth guide our living during this Advent Season and always. Grace and Peace, Wendell Griffen
Meditations for Advent,Christmas and Epiphany The friends and relatives were confused saying that no one in the family had the name John. They motioned to Zechariah to tell them the name he chose. Zechariah asked for a tablet and wrote, “His name is John.”
Advent Week One
All of them were amazed, but none more amazed than Zechariah who suddenly began to speak after so many months. And thus was the miraculous conception of a son born to Zechariah and Elizabeth. And not just a son, but one who was filled with the Holy Spirit, one who paved the way for the coming of Son of God Himself. No wonder Zechariah, who was filled at that moment with the Holy Spirit, sings this prophetic song:
Zechariah was a priest, his wife, Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron. The Scripture says that they were both “righteous before God, living blamelessly according to the commandments.” They were an old couple waiting for God and faithful to God, despite what they had gone through - childlessness. Zechariah was chosen to enter into the Lord's sanctuary to offer incense, which was a special symbol of worship. While he was offering prayer to God, an angel appeared to him. Zechariah was terrified, as any of us might be, at the sight of the holy angel. The angel said, “Zechariah, don't be afraid. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.”
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty Savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. - Luke 1:5-23; 59-79
May the Dayspring from on high visit us again this Advent season. Amen.
“But my wife and I are old,” Zechariah said to the angel. “How can this be?”
Zechariah said, “I am old.”
We wait again for your coming with hearts of hope. We wait for your promise. We stand in wonder before your marvelous deeds.
The angel responded, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to bring you this good news. Because you did not believe, you will become mute, unable to speak.” So Elizabeth bore a son. On the eighth day, the day of circumcision for the child, the ones who gathered were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But Elizabeth said, “No. He will be called John.”
od of H Hope,
We seek you, God, in the most unlikely places, as a child in a stable, in the shepherd’s pastures, in the hope of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and in the heart of a young woman chosen to bear the Messiah. Give us ears to hear and eyes to watch, that we may know your presence during this holy season of hope. Amen.
Then I wait in seclusion for five months, pondering what the Lord has done for meand praising God for looking favorably on me and taking away the disgrace of childlessness. Now the mother of my Lord has visited me and the sons in our wombs have moved by the power of God inside us.” The angel told Mary not to be afraid, for she had found favor with God and would bear a son and name him Jesus.
Advent Week Two Elizabeth's Miracle
Suddenly in the beginning of Luke, when nothing at all is happening, out of the 400-year silence, angels start showing up with news of miracles. Zechariah breaks out in song. Before God sent the angel to Mary to announce the coming of the Lord, He sent an angel to Zechariah to kick off this great news. Zechariah's wife, Elizabeth, was miraculously going to bear a son after years of being barren. The name Elizabeth means “My God is faithful” and that is exactly how she must have felt on that special day - the day that Mary came to visit her. Mary set out and went with haste, the Bible says, to a town in the hill country. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb as if, right in that moment a bond was forged between the children they were carrying. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to exclaim, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” “How is this happening to me?” asked Elizabeth, “That the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” “What a visit!” Elizabeth must have thought. “First I am surprised by God who has allowed me to conceive a son in my old age. Then I learn from Zechariah that our son will prepare the way for the Lord.
Mary said to the angel “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” No wonder Elizabeth said these words to Mary: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” May we know again this season that, with God, nothing is impossible to us. Amen - Luke 1:30-37; 45
od of Everlasting Love,
God of timeless grace, we await the light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. For the dayspring from on High has visited us, and we stand in the light of His coming. Grant us grace as we become light in this darkened world, and make us worthy of your calling. We follow you in valleys of shadow, knowing that you are near us, knowing that you lead us in loving kindness and amazing grace. Guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen
My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. From this day forward, all generations shall call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name. And then Mary's song continued, expressing a theology of justice far beyond her years. It is no wonder that we call this Mary's Magnificat. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. May our souls magnify the Lord during this season of joy. Amen. - Luke 1: 26-49
od of joy,
Advent Week Three
You fill us with expectation. Make us ready for the message that prepares the way, that with uprightness of heart and holy joy we may eagerly
Mary's Song of Joy
await the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ.
It happened in the sixth month. The angel Gabriel
With axe and winnowing fork, O God, you clear a
was sent to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph. Her name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, blessed one. The Lord is with you.”
holy space where hurt and destruction have no
She was perplexed, wondering what kind of greeting this could possibly be. She was probably terrified. The angel Gabriel sensed her fear and said, “Do not be afraid , Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Clear our lives of hatred and despair,
“Me? How can this be? I What have I done for God to find favor in me?” And so the angel told her that she was going to bear a child, the Son of God. Shocked? Amazed? Dismayed? Confused? Mary might have felt all of these emotions. She was so young. She had not been with a man. “How can this be?” was her question.
place, where wolf and lamb lie together in peace, and where a little child holds sway.
sow seeds of joy and peace, that shoots of hope may spring forth and we may live in harmony with one another. May the Spirit of the Lord rest upon us during this holy season of joy. Bless us with the spirit of wisdom and understanding. Grant us grace and mercy as we worship you in these Advent days, that you may find within us pure hearts of expectation
And the angel explained. And Mary, even in as a young woman, must have understood the holiness of what had happened to her. This was her song:
and joy. Amen.
Advent Week Four And Joseph Named Him Jesus
In the book of Matthew, Joseph has his own story about the birth of the Messiah. Engaged to be married to Mary, Joseph was startled by the news. And so Joseph was pondering a dilemma, the pregnancy of his betrothed. He needed to find peace and an answer. He was a good man and didn't want to disgrace Mary in any way. The Bible said he planned to dismiss her quietly, but just when he had made up his mind that this is what he had to do, an angel appeared to him in a dream.
Mary, the blessed, favored one, did not name the child. Other relatives did not name the child. Joseph, who was his earthy father, heeded the holy words of an angel of God in a dream and named him Jesus. May we find peace, as Joseph did, during this season of Holy days. Amen. - Matthew 1: 20-24
od of Peace,
You visited your servant, Joseph, with news of the world's redemption in the coming of the Savior.
Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you will name him Jesus, for he will save the people from their sins. Fear was only one the emotions Joseph must have been feeling. This news had been far too much for him to take in, and yet he found peace in the words of the angel. When Joseph woke up from his sleep, the entire world had changed for him and he probably knew it. He would be the father of a son now. He would have a boy to raise and to teach. What would he name him? Perhaps he would name him Joseph, after himself. Perhaps he would name him Jacob after his own father. Joseph did just what the angel of the Lord told him to do. All of this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the prophet: â€œLook, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us.â€? When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Make our hearts leap with joy, and fill our mouths with songs of praise, that we may announce glad tidings of peace and welcome the Christ in our midst. As we joyfully await the glorious coming of the Christ, we believe. as Joseph did, the message of your presence whispered by an angel. May we be overshadowed by the power of the Most High. Open our hearts to receive your Son, that we may open our doors to welcome all people as sisters and brothers . Amen.
We can only imagine what the shepherds felt and said after the angels left them. They must have been astonished at what had just happened, perhaps even wondering if it could possibly be true. After all, angels didn't just show up on a daily basis. Perhaps they had never seen an angel before, much less a heavenly host of angels. But this is what they said: Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.
Christmas Shepherds: The First Evangelists
They were just ordinary shepherds, normal folk like we are, doing their work each night and day. For them work was watching over their flocks. On most nights, they watched over their animals without much else happening. One night was about like another , until this one very extraordinary night. It was the night that everything changed and the world became larger than they could have ever imagined. And Mary gave birth to her firstborn child and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And in that same country were shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were very afraid. And the angel said to them, “Fear not; for I am bringing you good news of a great joy for all the people. This day is born to you in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among all people.”
No long discussions. No theological questioning. They left immediately. The Bible says they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in a manger. What they did next makes them the first evangelists. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. May this season be for us another opportunity to share good news of great joy. Amen. - Luke 2: 7-20
od, our Holy One,
Heavenly angels spoke to earthly shepherds and eternity entered time in the child of Bethlehem. Through the telling of the Christmas story, let our temporal lives be caught up in the eternal, so that in that same child, we might join shepherds and all the heavenly host in praising the coming of Jesus Christ, our Savior. God of Light, your splendor shines from a manger in Bethlehem, where the Light of the world is humbly born into the darkness of human night. For this we give you thanks. Amen.
Together! And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed, and a sword will pierce your own soul too. Anna was a prophet. She was of great age, having lived with her husband for seven years of marriage, and then as a widow to age eighty-four. The Bible also tells us that she never left the temple, but worshiped there with prayer and fasting night and day. When Mary and Joseph brought their child into the temple, Anna came to them and “began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” What a day this must have been for Anna, to see the Messiah and to have the opportunity to praise God for this gift.
Epiphany Epiphany for Simeon and Anna
One of the most grace-filled stories of the Gospels is the story of Simeon, a righteous and devout man from Jerusalem who had been waiting all of his life to see the consolation of Israel. We are told that the Holy Spirit rested on him and that it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah. The Holy Spirit guided him to the temple on the day that Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus to be dedicated as was the custom. Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed him saying: Lord, now letttest now Thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people, Israel. Simeon had amazed Mary and Joseph by his blessing of the child:
And so Simeon and Anna, very late in their lives, were given the gift that Epiphany brings to us all. They would never be the same. As for us, well, we don't use the word epiphany very often. Maybe it's because epiphany means “insight through the divine” and the divine is a bit foreign to us in our busy lives. May this season bring us an epiphany - new insight through the divine - suddenly, amazingly, surprising us with the sound of a rush of angel wings. Amen. - Luke 2: 33-38
od of light and peace,
whose glory, shining in the child of Bethlehem, still draws us to yourself. Dispel the darkness that shrouds our path, that we may come to kneel before Christ in true worship, offer him our hearts and souls, and return from his presence to live as he has taught. Radiant Morning Star, you to us are both guidance and mystery. Like Simeon, may our eyes see your salvation and your glory. Like Anna, may we praise God and speak about the holy child to all who look for redemption. Amen.
Intention Reverend Griffen Joins Baptist Leaders as New Baptist Covenant hosts 'Covenant of Action' Commitments at the Carter Center
Reverend Wendell Griffen joined innovative Baptist leaders from diverse traditions and from several U.S. cities to collaborate on plans for cooperative ministry projects with fellow pastors from their city at a summit in the Atlanta area. These leaders are a part of the New Baptist Covenant, a movement started by President Jimmy Carter in 2007, to break down barriers of race, theology, and geography among Baptists so that Jesus' mandates found in Luke can be realized.
President Carter expressed hope and expectation about the summit and the New Baptist Covenant movement. “Baptists can do so much to bring healing and hope to the world that God so loved when we are united in shared service and common purpose,” he said. “I am eager to see the movement continue to grow, inspiring and energizing the Baptist family for generations to come.” The inaugural celebration of a New Baptist Covenant in January 2008 brought together more than 15,000 people representing over 30 Baptist organizations. A second national New Baptist Covenant meeting in 2011 focused on the plight of incarcerated men and women and participants across the country were challenged to take on the difficult issue of restorative justice. Jeffrey Haggray, the former executive director of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention and a New Baptist Covenant programming co-chair with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Suzii Paynter, said the summit’s focus on local congregations within their larger communities is exciting. “Whereas local churches are the most fundamental units of mission, the opportunity to develop Covenants of Action between local churches with the ultimate aim of reconciliation and transformation in their larger communities and among other Baptists is an exciting new venture,” he said. At this year’s summit, national leaders will also engage in a time of collective planning as they consider how to nurture existing collaborative ministries and how to foster new opportunities for joint service and fellowship.
Reverend Griffen and CBF Moderator-elect, Kasey Jones
Participants engaged in workshops designed to help them create cooperative service projects called Covenants of Action, which will be tailor made to fit the passions, resources and needs of covenant partners in a particular community. A commissioning service for participants was held at the Carter Center on Friday.
The keynote speaker for the summit was the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., who served as a board member and regional director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during Martin Luther King Jr.’s tenure as founding president. Moss has been named as one of America’s Greatest Black Preachers. He is on the council of President Barack Obama’s White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and retired in 2008 after 33 years of service to the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio.
Growth New Members Welcomed Into the New Millennium Community
The New Millennium community welcomed two new members at a congregational meeting in November. Cindy Boyles and Kathy Manis Findley joined the vibrant New Millennium community after being a part of the congregation for some time.
New Millennium Church is a church committed to social justice, peace, diversity and inclusivity. If you would like to know more about New Millennium or how to become a member of this community of faith, please speak to Pastor Griffen or any member of the congregation.
You may also express interest via email at Together@NewMillenniumChurch.us and we will have someone from our community contact you.
Social Justice Congresswoman Barbara Lee to Preach at New Millennium Church on December 8
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the only member of either body in Congress who voted against the postSeptember 11, 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) on which the U.S. global "war against terror" is based, will deliver a sermon on public policy and social justice at New Millennium Church on December 8 during a 9 a.m. worship service. New Millennium Church worships in the sanctuary of Lakeshore Drive Baptist Church at 21 Lakeshore Drive, in Little Rock. Congresswoman Lee represents California's 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and sits on the House Budget and Appropriations Committees. She began her political career as an intern in the office of her predecessor, former Congressman and former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, where she eventually became his Chief of Staff. Before being elected to Congress, she served in the California State Assembly and in the California State Senate. Rev. Wendell Griffen, pastor of New Millennium Church, offers this explanation for asking Congresswoman Lee to deliver a sermon to that congregation. "We live in a time when few elected officials are willing to confront and question public policies based on fear, greed, and military might. More than anyone else currently in Congress, Congresswoman Barbara Lee reminds me of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who warned that "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
Have you ever felt that "click" when you know something is the right fit for you? It could be the right job, the right house, the right mate, or something as simple as the right perfume, but when it happens, something "clicks." That's how I feel at New Millennium. I've been in church all my life but have NEVER had the benefit of such strong, in-depth, biblically based teaching as I have been a part of at New Millennium, or been a part of such a loving, accepting community of believers. Being at New Millennium has definitely been a growth experience for me in many ways: I have a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus. I have a greater appreciation for how God places people who are needed in the midst of congregations and how each person serves a unique purpose according to God's plan. I have learned new and richer ways to live out the love of God.
The Advent season is a season of thanksgiving and joy. We are very excited at the thoughts of Christmas, gifts, parties, and other events. What we must remember is that this is the celebration of Jesus's birth. Jesus offered to be the sacrificial lamb to the people.. It is only through him that we can have passage to our heavenly father. Our heavenly father is a holy God of patience and understanding. Jesus is the light of the world. During this season of excitement and festivities, know who you are and what you stand for. As long as Jesus is your rock and salvation, whom shall you fear? It is my wish that all of you have happiness and joy in this season of thanksgiving.
If you are searching for a deeper understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, know that you will be welcomed at New Millennium.
- Helen T. Jeffries
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Volume 1, Number 2 New Millennium Church 21 Lakeshore Drive Little Rock, Arkansas 72204 (501) 562-9244 WEB SITE . www.NewMillenniumChurch.us E-MAIL . Together@NewMillenniumChurch.us PASTOR . Rev. Wendell Griffen EDITOR . Rev. Kathy Manis Findley Sunday Worship Service . 9:00am Sunday School . 10:45 Thursday Evening Bible Study . 6:30pm