Posted by: Pauline | December 14, 2014

Scriptures for Sunday December 21

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

This psalm expresses confidence in God’s steadfast love. In particular, it focuses on God’s covenant with David, whom He had exalted as king, and His faithfulness to David’s descendants forever.

The latter part of this psalm, which is not part of this Sunday’s reading, attempts to deal with the contrast between the blessing implied in that covenant with the reality the people are living. The psalmist recognizes that God may punish His people for forsaking His ways yet still keep His steadfast love for them.

But he goes on to express the anguish of those who have experienced the devastation of Jerusalem’s defeat and destruction by foreign enemies. In their great distress, can they continue to believe in God’s faithfulness? It seems that God has renounced the covenant.

Yet still the psalmist turns to God, asking for His blessing to return to the people, and ending with emphatic words of praise.

Luke 1:26-38

Hundreds of years after that psalm was written, centuries when the people of Israel continued to experience oppression by foreign rulers, a teenage girl receives a message that God is fulfilling that covenant. Her son will be the one to reign on David’s throne, and his kingdom will have no end.

This might have seemed doubly impossible to Mary, both because of the implausibility of her son defeating the might of the Roman empire, and because she could hardly have a son to begin with since she was unmarried and chaste. But the angelic messenger reminds her that God can do what seems impossible to us, and she responds in faithful submission to God’s will.

Romans 16:25-27

We can read in many places in the Bible about the prophecies made of a coming Messiah and the fulfillment of those prophecies in Christ. What is important is how we respond to these revelations, and Paul leads us in responding in obedient faith and enthusiastic praise.

Posted by: Pauline | December 14, 2014

Upcoming events: week of December 15

This Week

Tuesday, December 16

10 a.m. Bible Study

Wednesday, December 17

6:30 p.m. Bible Study
6:30 p.m. Combined Session and Deacons meeting

Saturday, December 20

10 a.m. – noon Clothes Depot

Sunday, December 21

9:45 a.m. Adult Sunday School
10:45 a.m. Worship Service and Youth Sunday School
3:45 p.m. Meet at the church to go caroling at the nursing homes

Looking Ahead

Wednesday, December 24

6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve music program
7 p.m. Christmas Eve service

Posted by: Pauline | December 12, 2014

Scriptures for Sunday December 14

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

This passage speaks powerfully of the blessings of God poured out on those who have experienced poverty, oppression, grief, and destruction. Everything will be turned around, with joy replacing grief, liberty instead of captivity, abundance instead of poverty, and justice instead of oppression.

The “year of the Lord’s favor” is thought to refer to the Year of Jubilee that was to be practiced every fifty years, when debts would be forgiven, slaves freed, and lands returned to their original owners. We do not have a record that this was actually ever done in Israel’s history. But Jesus told the people of Nazareth that in his ministry, he was fulfilling this promise of restoration.

Luke 1:46b-55

These verses spoken by Mary have become known as the Magnificat (the Latin word from the first line, meaning “magnifies”). She seems to have been very familiar with the Old Testament prophecies by Isaiah and others, promising God’s blessing to His people.

As in the passage from Isaiah, there is a reversal of how things have been, reversing the places of the proud and the humble, and the rich and the poor. People looking around at the world today may not see much evidence that any such reversal has taken place. But like Mary, we trust that God is working to bring about His will in our world.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

These brief exhortations at the end of one of Paul’s first letters give us practical advice that we can easily remember – though we may find it much harder to follow. We pray in times of trouble, and rejoice and give thanks when we receive obvious blessings. But Paul instructs us to pray all the time, rejoice all the time, and give thanks in every circumstance.

We do not do this on our own, however. Paul goes on to remind us that it is God who sanctifies us – makes us holy. He is faithful, and He will accomplish His will in us, as He does in all things.

Posted by: Pauline | December 7, 2014

Upcoming events: week of December 8

This Week

Tuesday, December 9

10 a.m. Bible Study

Wednesday, December 10

4:30 – 6 p.m. Clothes Depot
6:30 p.m. Bible Study
7 p.m. Dress rehearsal for Youth Christmas Program

Thursday, December 11

7 p.m. Choir practice

Sunday, December 14

9:45 a.m. Adult Sunday School
10:45 a.m. Worship Service including Youth Christmas Program
6:30 p.m. Congregation Movie Night – Movie will be “Heaven is for Real”

Looking Ahead

Sunday, December 21

3:45 p.m. Meet at the church to go caroling at the nursing homes

Wednesday, December 24

6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve music program
7 p.m. Christmas Eve service

Posted by: Pauline | November 30, 2014

Scriptures for Sunday December 7

Isaiah 40:1-11

The prophet speaks words of encouragement to people who may have wondered whether they would ever know God’s blessing again. They are assured of both God’s power to deliver them and His grace to forgive their sins and restore them to a place of blessing.

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

The set of verses assigned to this reading skips over the part that expresses the people’s sense of distance from God because of their sins. In the first verses we hear how in the past, God had forgiven the sins of His people and blessed them again. Now they ask God to do this for them again. In the ending verses, the psalmist expresses confidence in God’s salvation.

2 Peter 3:8-15

No doubt the people to whom Peter wrote wondered why it was taking so long for Christ to return and reign as a righteous King over all the world. Peter points out that the delay allows more people to come to salvation through Christ.

Posted by: Pauline | November 30, 2014

Upcoming events: week of December 1

This Week

Tuesday, December 2

No Bible Study
11:30 a.m. Dutch Treat, hosted by the Women’s Guild

Wednesday, December 3

11:30 a.m. JOURNEY’s Holiday Luncheon – All women of the church are invited
6:30 p.m. Bible Study

Sunday, December 7

9:45 a.m. Adult Sunday School
10:45 a.m. Worship Service and Youth Sunday School

Looking Ahead

Sunday, December 14

10:45 a.m. Worship Service including Youth Christmas Program
6:30 p.m. Congregation Movie Night – Movie will be “Heaven is for Real”

Sunday, December 21

3:45 p.m. Meet at the church to go caroling at the nursing homes

Wednesday, December 24

6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve music program
7 p.m. Christmas Eve service

Posted by: Pauline | November 29, 2014

Enjoying the new building

After months of watching the new building grow from a hole in the ground to a framework to an enclosed building, today we got to finally enjoy using it. 1’s and 2’s met for the Hanging of the Greens (decorating the church for Advent/Christmas). Afterward we enjoyed food and fellowship in the new building.

1's & 2's in new fellowship hall new kitchen

Posted by: Pauline | November 26, 2014

Scriptures for Sunday November 30

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

This is the lament, not of an individual but the whole community of Israel, as they face great suffering. Perhaps it is the result of military defeat and conquest by a powerful enemy. Whatever the circumstances, it caused national shame as well as hardship and grief.

It seems to them that God has turned His back on them, perhaps because they have turned away from Him. They plead for His mercy and a return of His favor, and promise not to turn from Him again.

Mark 13:24-37

People who call on God in the midst of suffering want Him to come fix what is so terribly wrong in our world. But that long-awaited coming will be cataclysmic. People who are ready for that coming will have reason to rejoice, but for others it will be a time of terrible judgment.

Posted by: Pauline | November 23, 2014

Upcoming events: week of November 24

This Week

Tuesday, November 25

No Bible Study
7 p.m. Ecumenical service at the United Methodist Church

Wednesday, November 26

No Bible Study
4:30 – 6 p.m. Clothes Depot

Saturday, November 29

6 p.m. 1’s & 2’s at the church for Hanging of the Greens

Sunday, November 30

9:45 a.m. Adult Sunday School
10:45 a.m. Worship Service and Youth Sunday School

Looking Ahead

Wednesday, December 3

11:30 a.m. JOURNEY Holiday Lunch – All women of the church are invited

Wednesday, December 24

6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve music program
7 p.m. Christmas Eve service

Posted by: Pauline | November 16, 2014

Scriptures for Sunday November 23

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Ezekiel uses a familiar metaphor, depicting God as the shepherd. He seeks out sheep that have been scattered, lost, injured, and weak. While these five verses focus on the hope and comfort of being cared for by God, the larger context of the chapter includes judgment on those responsible for the sheep having fallen into such dire circumstances to begin with.

Psalm 100

This psalm, often used as a Call to Worship, also reminds us that we are the sheep and God is the shepherd. Unlike the passage in Ezekiel, there is no mention of going astray or of judgment. It is all about the joy of worshiping God, recognizing that we belong to Him and that He takes good care of us.

Those who do not believe may find it strange to find joy in belonging to someone. But for those who trust in God and have seen His good providence, it is a joy and a comfort to be His.

Ephesians 1:15-23

 This passage is packed so densely with theological truths, and written with so many connected phrases and clauses, that it is easy to lose track of the details of what Paul is saying. Unpacking them takes some effort, but it is worth the effort to deepen one’s understanding of the greatness of God and what He has done for us.

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