Advent: An invitation to connect with Jesus

You may have been like me, not growing up around the concept of Advent.  Advent designates a period before Christmas when Christians prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. If you choose to follow the traditional church calendar like we often do at CIL, Advent started on December 1 and culminates on Christmas Eve. 

This organization of times extends our holiday. Advent prepares us for Christmas, which is celebrated for 12 days by the church, beginning on December 25. Christmas is a time of joy, wonder, awe, and feasting!

So, lean in with the rest of the world-wide church into this heavenly focus. This time is an invitation to connect with Jesus.  At whatever point you want to acknowledge Advent, I think it will be good for your soul.

One way you may benefit from Advent is some additional Bible reading that revolves around Advent themes. Attached is a plan provided by CIL that you may find helpful.  

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A prayer for mercy instead of violence

I was honored to pray at the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce today, representing both Union University and CIL. Here is a portion of the prayer which speaks to the national conversation occurring in light of last week’s expressions of evil:
 
“Almighty God,
We take this moment to pause and acknowledge your greatness, power, and love.
 
Our nation is currently mourning the senseless loss of life manifested in mass killings.
We pray for comfort, strength, and wisdom to the communities of
 
Gilroy, California.
El Paso, Texas.
Dayton, Ohio.
We pray for protection over Hendersonville, Tennessee.
 
Root out the evil that lurks.
The evil in the shadows of our city.
And the evil in the shadows of our hearts.
 
We thank you that you are a God who loves all people.
We pray that we follow your example, Christ;
so, that prejudice and racism will eradicate from our culture.
 
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

What is Eastertide?

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Do you wish that Easter wasn’t over? Good news! It is not.
 
When observing the church calendar, Easter starts on Resurrection Sunday and is celebrated for several weeks. This season is also known as Eastertide. It is 50 days of celebration until Pentecost Sunday.
 
If you are interested in learning more about this, take a listen to this informative and enjoyable podcast from Renovare with Nathan Foster interviewing Dr. Lacy Borgo.
 
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The picture is of a stain-glass named Women at the Tomb (circa 1150) in Chartres Cathedral (Chartres, France)

Sermons on Joy can be tough to hear

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This Sunday (December 16) we will focus on the Advent theme of Joy as we prepare for Christmas!

Here are some thoughts about joy that may not make Sunday’s message:

– When one is suffering from depression, messages on joy often feel very painful.  For those under this cloud, we acknowledge your pain and remind you that there is a company of past and present saints who understand the paradox of living the Christian life while suffering from this condition.

– Even in the most dire of circumstances, there can be odd moments of joy.  The fall of 2003 was one of the darkest periods of my life after losing both my dad and grandmother and having a very unexpectedly sick newborn. Yet during that season I still enjoyed good meals, meaningful conversations, and touches of friendship.

– As much as we are able, we should choose joy.  Life is harsh and pain is unavoidable.  So, laughter and enjoyment under the Lordship of Christ reflects His glory to our world.

Two weeks for one sermon

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This hasn’t happened in years, but I did not finish my sermon last week, so will do so this Sunday. On June 10, I will preach from 1 Samuel 3:8-20 – “Hearing God’s Voice in Your Generation (Part 2).”
 
The church calendar is in Ordinary Time, which is a dynamic season of growth and spontaneity between Pentecost and Advent. Our faith community seems especially in tune with the Holy Spirit during the summer months, so I expect we will hear strongly from Him once again. Let’s gather with anticipation! See you at either 9am or 10:45am.