16 December 2020
Greetings to each of you during this fourth week of Advent!
This week we focus on the topic of Joy as part of our Advent celebration. An appropriate section of scripture to focus on as we consider “joy” as part of our Christian lives is found in Philippians 4:4-5,
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident
to all. The Lord is near.”
The apostle Paul writes these words to the Philippian church who were dealing with difficult circumstances. There was disunity in the Philippian church, false teachings, his own imprisonment, and probably several other issues – but Paul emphasizes that even in these things, we are to “Rejoice!” Paul’s teachings often lead the church to recognize that their faith and their understanding of the Gospel should be evident, or a witness to all of those that they come in contact with, for “the Lord is near.”
As we consider the Christmas story, an angel of the Lord speaks to shepherds in fields giving the reason for Paul’s message (of course Paul’s words coming 62-65 years later):
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today
in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
When we read the Luke verse, of course it is easy to understand that the birth of our Savior would cause joy. But, what Paul emphasizes is that this joy needs to be evident in our lives at all times, both joyous and difficult. You may say, “How can I be happy with all of this stuff going on, or with all that is happening in my life right now?” Well, joy is not necessarily the same thing as happy. Happiness is an emotion that is the result of an event or occurrence- something can cause happiness. But happiness is an emotional response, typically short lived. Joy, on the other hand is a state of mind. It is the result of a condition, or a state of mind. Joy is not affected by the events that occur around us. Joy in the Christian sense is the result of knowing the Lord, the result of the Good News. Joy can get us through difficult times when happiness may not be possible. I kind of see it in a contemporary manner as, sure, life is tough right now, but I’ve got this, I’m not giving in and I’m not giving up. Joy may be seen in one’s demeanor in life. It’s a confidence that seems unshakeable. And if the Lord is near, why not, right?
Since it is the fourth week of Advent, that means that not only is the Lord near, but Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are as well. Even though we may not be happy about our circumstances this year, we can rejoice in fellowship with one another this year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Whether we fellowship on-line, or in-person, we can be together through the Holy Spirit as we rejoice in not only the birth of Jesus so long ago, but in our looking forward to His second coming.
We will be celebrating Christmas Eve with two services (based on our survey results), 5PM and 7PM. You can read more about each service in our announcements flyer. Both services will be candlelight services and this year, because so many will be worshipping on-line, we are making the candlelight service candles available to be used during your time of in-home worship. This Sunday, they will be available inside and outside of the church to be picked up in small baggies. Feel free to drive by and take what you will need for your particular home gathering or if you are here, take what you need home with you.
The candles will be available for pickup outside of the church Monday thru Wednesday (Dec 21-23) from 9AM till 3PM. IF you are unable to pick them up on your own, please let Alison know in the church office and we will arrange to drop them off at your home. Those who receive the regularly weekly mailings will receive them automatically in next week’s mailing.
I would suggest having a ceremonial candle available to light at your home representing the Christ candle that will be lit as part of our Advent Wreath lighting celebration. When we move to the lighting of the candles in the pews, you can then utilize your candles to receive the “Light” from your Christ candle and share in the candlelight essence that is so special on Christmas Eve.
We will continue to live stream our Sunday services at 9 and 11 and our church doors will remain unlocked for those who choose in-person worship. In addition to our sanctuary, we have a large screen television in the fellowship hall and in rooms 204 and 206 if you would like to gather as a small group in one of those locations. We require each person entering our church to abide by all of the safety protocols that are in place in all locations of our community and remind anyone with any symptoms of cold, cough, fever (even mild) to choose virtual worship from home until your symptoms no longer exist.
On Sunday, the 27th, we will hold one combined service at 10AM where we will enjoy the musical sounds of the season performed by the musicians of the 9AM and 11AM service. Our message will be the sixth and final episode of The Christmas Experience. Of course it will all be live streamed, so if you want to relax in the comfort of your home after all of the incredible celebrations of Christmas, you can do so. Maybe consider it a “pajama Sunday!” (Not suggesting wearing pajamas to the church… maybe your Christmas sweater, though!)
In the church our new network has been installed this week and we are hoping that weather permitting, our new signs outside the church will be installed next week before Christmas! These things and many others are only possible because of your generosity to Yorkshire Church- thank you! On a closing note, if you are enjoying The Christmas Experience Sunday School programming, we are planning on a new series beginning shortly after the New Year which will be announced in the near future. Thank you
Have a great and blessed day, rejoicing in the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
– pastor dave.