pastors note

Pastor's Note

Comments from Rev. Larry J. Edmonds

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In our rush to celebrate Christmas, we seem to forget about the season of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas that make up the season which is one of the shortest seasons of the Christian year.

Advent should be a time when we should set aside our thoughts about the commercial side of Christmas and think instead about the four themes of Advent: hope, love, joy and peace that help prepare to celebrate Christmas.

The first theme is Hope. Hope is an optimistic word that is used when there is an expectation or desire for some kind of positive outcome. However, today it is often used simply to express a "wish"that allows for the chance that the desire may not be fulfilled. Some dictionaries point out that the archaic meaning of the word is quite different than the meaning we use today. In its archaic usage the word meant an expectation that carried with it a sense of trust, certainty, and confidence that the expectation would be fulfilled. The word occurs 53 times in the New Testament. In most cases it is used in direct relation to the salvation and eternal life that is ours through the work of Jesus Christ, a work that is already accomplished. Christ as our "hope"or "confidence"is one of the recurring themes in the letters of the Apostle Paul. Let's go back to the original meaning of the word and realize that God will fulfill his promise of returning just as he fulfilled his promise of his first coming to us "in the fullness of time."

The second theme is Love. In the New Testament, the word love takes on the form of the four words for love found in the Greek language. those four words are eros, the basis of our English word erotic; phileo, the basis of our idea of brotherly love; storge, is the love of community and family; and agape, which is the unmerited love shown to us by God. In 1965 a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David was released entitled, What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love. The words tell the story that love is truly what the world needs now but which one of the Greek words of love did the writers have in mind? For us Christians, we agree that the world needs love and the love the world needs is phileo-love, "love your neighbor as yourself"and agape-love, the unmerited love of God which God expects us to practice when we "love"our neighbor as ourselves.

The third theme is, Joy. Happiness is an emotion that can disappear as quickly as it rises to the surface. Joy, however, is a choice. Generally when we see the word Joy used in church bulletins or newsletters our first thought is the carol, Joy to the World. And it is a great carol to sing but let's think about the joy God was going to give to the world before the first "Christmas."A quick glance in a Bible concordance for the word joy shows that even in the days of the lives of people in Old Testament times they chose joy as a way of thanking God for his blessings. In the gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 29, John the Baptist is telling his followers that his joy if fulfilled with the coming of Jesus, the messiah. Mary's joy was in being selected by God to be the mother of his only begotten Son. We have a choice. God gives us a joy that is unconquerable. We can choose to live in an attitude of resentment, anger and fear or we can choose to pursue the joy of Christ.

The final theme for Advent is Peace. Peace is something everyone wants, yet few seem to find. What is peace? It can be defined as "tranquility, harmony, or security."In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for "peace"is shalom, and it refers to relationships between people, nations, and God with humanity. In the New Testament, the Greek word for "peace"is eirene, and it refers to rest and tranquility. The prophet Isaiah prophesied about the "Prince of Peace."In the New Testament Jesus is referred to as the prince of peace. In his last words to his disciples in the upper room, John 14, Jesus begins saying, "Let not your hearts be troubled."He then goes to give them the assurance that he can sooth troubled hearts when he says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."Paul says in his letter to the Philippian Christians, that the peace God gives surpasses our knowledge of what true peace is. When all humanity embraces the Prince of Peace as Lord and Savior of their lives, then the words of the third stanza of O Little Town of Bethlehem, which I close with. "How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given; so God imparts in human hearts the blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in"will truly come to pass and Christ will reign forever and forever. Amen.

Happy blessed Advent,
Pastor Larry

Some have asked about special services for Christmas Eve and the Sundays of Advent. I have asked that the youth help lead the Worship services during the season of Advent. Please come and support them as they help with this important part of our congregational life. On Sunday, December 17, in the 11:00 a.m. Worship Service, Kevin Nicholas will read a story about Christmas for the children. On Sunday, December 24, the 11:00 a.m. Worship Service will be a Service of Lessons and Carols. That evening at 7:00 p.m. we will have the Candle Light Communion Service. This service will feature many of the favorite carol's tunes that the Great Thanksgiving for communion has been set to.