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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.
Scripture References Message: Tough Love
John 3:14-18/ Luke 2:6-7, Numbers 21: 4-9, John 17:1-3, Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7, Matthew1:21-23; 28:16-20, Colossians 1:15-23
Additional Scripture References (not stated in the message)
John 1:1-14, Romans 5:7-8, Isaiah 12:2, Ephesians 3:17-19
[Read in succession: Exodus 33:20, Isaiah 40:5, Hebrews 1:3]
—Weekly Study: Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 & 2 —
10 December 2020
Good Day to you!
In my studies this week, I have been coming across many discussions regarding the “why” God needed to come into the world to be Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:13-14, Matthew 1:22-23). Theologically, this can lead into very deep study, and certainly, as in all things that God does, He has a reason. This week’s Advent theme is “Love” and so my morning reflections had my mind travelling down the path of the “whys” in the context of how it represents “love.” This week’s morning beverage comes again from the richness of an Aldi Gingerbread brew and as I looked into the woods while I enjoyed it, the following thoughts came to mind.
Earlier this week, a lone doe had wandered into our back yard while our dog Annie was outside. As our brave protector felt the need to ward off the trespass of this beautiful creature, she actually startled the doe, causing it to try to retreat into the park behind our home. The challenge came for this magnificent beast when she became caught in some old fencing that separates our community from the desired path for her escape. This has happened before. After watching the deer struggle for a few seconds and realizing her plight, I grabbed a set of trusty wire cutting pliers from the garage, and headed out in my jammies, bathrobe and slippers. The closer I got to the deer, the more panicked she became, even though I was telling her in the softest of tones, that “it’s alright girl, I’m only going to help you.” I felt a tremendous pity for this animal and all I really wanted to do was to free it from its predicament. Thankfully for the both of us, something in the deer calmed as we gazed at each other, only a foot or two separating our breath. It only took a couple of cuts from my pliers to release the deer from its entrapment and once it realized it was free- its instinct took over and it frantically took off into the park to wherever its next destination was.
As I reflected on that, I felt a slight remorse that although I only wanted to help this wonderful animal, its response was only putting it into a more tangled and helpless plight. If it would only listen to me and understand me as I attempted to comfort it in my pleadings that I was only trying to rescue it, the process would have been far less stressful for her. But, I am human and this deer was not. I came to the conclusion that the only way that this deer, or even the next one who I may need to free from the fence, would understand my intentions, would be if I were to have the ability to communicate with it, as a deer myself. Although I was well aware of my intent, the beast would never be able to relate to my attempts to help.
A refill of my coffee as our home began to stir for the start of another day, had me thinking that maybe this is part of the reason that God needed to come into our world as a human being. Maybe this is why He needed to come into our world just like we do, facing the same situations, the same challenges, the same hopes, fears, and joys. By living our life, yet remaining perfect in His posture as God, he could relate to us in a manner that we would understand, speaking in our own language with gestures and emotion that we can relate to. Being Immanuel, God with us, he could relate to us in a way to give us hope, and peace- yet remaining in a position to cut the fence, not being restricted to its binding grasp. What I did for the deer, I did at the sacrifice of my neighbors having to see me out there in the woods wrangling with a deer in my bathrobe and slippers imagining the folly they were enjoying at my trying to communicate with a deer and wrestle with an old rusted fence. But when God sent His son into our world, He did it because of a deep seated love for us and was willing to sacrifice His life. And, as I drifted away from this morning’s time of reflection, I had a better sense of God’s love for us. Love!
Now, onto the events for this week! We are, as of the time of this writing, continuing with the opportunity for in-person worship for those that would choose to do so. We will have children’s Sunday School during the 9AM and 10AM worship hours. I remind you that if you would like to worship as a part of your small group, or Sunday School class, you may do so in rooms 204, 206, and/or the Fellowship Hall where our worship and Sunday School programming is live streamed on large screen televisions. And, as everyone is now well aware, we will be following the safety protocols that are in place for basically all events or locations that you may go. A reminder is that any symptoms of cold, cough, fever (even mild) need to be taken seriously and we trust you to choose virtual worship from home until your symptoms no longer exist.
We have some great things that will be happening next week at the church from an operational improvement standpoint. Beginning on Monday, Telecom Business Solutions, Inc. will begin installing a new Wi-Fi network which will improve our overall internet capabilities in the church. Our current system has served us well, but is beginning to fail as it can no longer keep up with our technology requirements. In addition, a few components of our sound system in the sanctuary are beginning to fail. Thankfully, the failures have been identified during the week and work-arounds have been put in place to keep us functional for our Sunday services and live streams. So, we will be replacing and upgrading part of our system that is known as the “Power Sequencing System.” Although these two improvements in our church technology platforms are not inexpensive, they are kind of like the tires on your car. There comes a time every few years where they simply do not do what they are supposed to do anymore, and they need to be replaced- or in other terms, we are simply doing much needed maintenance. We are only able to do these things because of your continued generosity of your gifts to Yorkshire Church, of which I am greatly appreciative of. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
Have a great and blessed day, enjoying the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
– pastor dave.