We are officially only 10 days away from Christmas morning. Feeling the crunch yet? Presents still to buy, decorations still to put up, trees to still decorate, meals to plan, company still coming…the list goes on. All of this can be quite stressful, even cause a wee bit of anxiety. That’s a bit ironic if you think about. Christmas is not supposed to be stressful. It’s not supposed to cause us anxiety.
This is an especially poignant thought as we walk into the third week of Advent together. Traditionally, the third week in Advent represents Joy, the joy that God wishes for us to have, as stated in John 15:11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” What has he told us to make our joy complete? A couple of things really. Before this verse Jesus is talking about remaining in God’s love, a love we get to know more as we learn God’s heart for us, which involves obeying God’s voice and his written Word. After this verse, Jesus talks about taking this love we learn from God and using it toward one another. Loving each other with the same type of love that caused God, holy, majestic, eternal God, to be born in a manger and eventually die on a cross.
Here’s my main thought for this week. After speaking about a type of love that is self-sacrificing, Jesus reminds us that we have been let in on God’s plans. That Jesus loves us enough to let us in on the mystery of Christmas. John 15:14-17 “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
Not only has Jesus let us in on his plans, but he has a part of us to play in those plans. “I chose you and appointed you so that you might GO and bear fruit…”
Part of the mystery of Christmas is that the story of Jesus’ birth, of Jesus’ death and resurrection, has been left with us. To take it and go, to spread it around, to let others in on the mystery.
That’s what our Christmas play “No Doubt” will show us this coming Sunday. Join us. And let’s explore what it looks like when the church leaves the building to share the story of Christmas.
Join us at PEMC Sunday December 16th at 10:30am for our annual Christmas program.
Program Synopsis: The kids at Christ Community Church are pumped! Their guitar-playing worship pastor, has issued a Christmas challenge to the Kids Choir and to their director. The challenge is for them to go outside the four walls of their church and into the community. They are looking for new ways to praise the Lord, and offering love gifts to Jesus in ways they’ve never even thought about before. These kids are beginning to understand that they are The Church! And, as their T-Shirts say, “The Church Has Left the Building”TM. Join the fun and unexpected joy they find as they open their treasures to the Lord this Christmas.
3 and a half weeks.
30, 240 minutes. If you want to break it down to seconds, you get a gold star.
That’s how much time we have until Christmas. That’s how much time we have until the presents are unwrapped, the chocolates are opened (and maybe even emptied), the nuts are cracked and the turkeys are nothing but piles of naked bones.
But we have that much time. Time to get ready. Not just for presents, turkeys, chocolates, visitors and nuts, but time to get ready for Emmanuel. For the greatest mystery in the world. That’s how Paul describes this Christmas thing in Colossians 1:27. He writes: “To them [God’s people] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ in you. Made possible only because of Christmas, because of His coming.
This Sunday morning we continue our journey toward Bethlehem as we celebrate the second week of Advent. Traditionally, the first week represents hope. The hope that Jesus brings into the world, hope for a brighter future, hope for a tomorrow that is greater than all of our todays. Hope spawned by the mystery of God’s plan to wrap himself in the pigmented skin of humanity, be born in a rough stable, live a life of richness and perfection, and then die a death of pain and shame.
The second week usually represents peace. Peace inside ourselves, peace in our relationships, peace in those places where peace just never seems possible. Peace in knowing that God can, and does, use the insignificant, lowly and broken things of this world. Do we let the peace of God into our brokenness? Do we let the peace of the season wash over us, and erupt outwards in worship? Like Mary did in Luke 1:39-56. A lowly, insignificant Jewish girl, chosen to carry God’s Son. For no reason other than God chose. The reality of what God was doing came out of her in worship.
A mystery. That’s what we we’re exploring this advent season. This incredible mystery of Christmas. Will you join us?