A look at the meaning of Christmas through the lens of Charles Wesley’s famous carol…
One of the great parts about the Christmas season is the music of the carols. Some of those carols are old favorites (Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful) and some are just for fun (Jingle Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas). While most of us will never crave the “figgy pudding” we sing about this time of year, we do crave the message of hope and love that Christmas brings. We love all of those familiar carols, but one of them captures this powerful reality of God coming in the person of Jesus better than most—Charles Wesley’s famous “Hymn for a Christmas Day” or, as we know it, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” The story of this carol and its message offer us all of the rich biblical themes that give us the true meaning of Christmas in the gift of Christ: Glory, Incarnation, Resurrection, and the Image of God. When we learn what Christmas really all about, then we have even more reasons to sing!
Join us during the four Sundays of Advent, beginning December 1, as we look at the meaning of the manger through the outline of this great hymn. Each of the sermons corresponds to one of the verses (including one verse that isn’t published in our hymnal):
Dec. 1 – “How All the Welkin Rings:” The Birth of the World’s True King
Dec. 8 – “Veiled in Flesh the Godhead See:” The Incarnation
Dec. 15 – “That We No More May Die:” Christmas and Easter Together
Dec. 22 – “Adam’s Likeness, Lord Efface:” Living the Life of Christ
Bring a friend and join us during this season of preparation for Christmas! If you’re living outside the Monument/Colorado Springs area and aren’t able to join us in person, you can read the sermon texts here on the blog or listen to them here.
The starting gun for the New York City Marathon fired on Sunday of this week as runners from around the world began the 26.2-mile race through the streets of the five boroughs. Some of the runners left the starting line in search of the prize while others will consider a respectable finish (or any finish) to be a great accomplishment.
But while running a marathon is still a popular bucket list item for many people, other regular marathoners believe that running such a long horizontal distance again and again over time can really beat up the body, not to mention the fact that logging mile after mile on the course can get kind of monotonous. An increasing number of those runners, in fact, are becoming less interested in hoofing it through the streets and more interested in the buildings that tower over them — buildings that contain miles of stairs within their dizzying heights.
Welcome to the sport of professional stair climbing.
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Last night was Halloween, which is a “holiday” that just about everyone celebrates in one form or another. Our subdivision was filled last night with little (and, disturbingly, not-so-little) ghouls and goblins trooping from door to door in search of this year’s cache of sugary loot. But while you may be waking up this morning still a little loopy from sampling the kids’ candy stash, I want to introduce you to another really “holy day”—All Saints Day.
Traditionally, All Saints Day has had a couple of meanings. In the old days there was All Saints Day, which celebrated those Christians who had been singled out as exceptionally “saints” of the church—your Mother Theresa types, that sort of thing—followed the next day by “All Souls Day” when the rest of the departed hoi polloi of the church was honored—your regular Christians.
But, biblically speaking, “saint” is a word that is most often used to connote a regular, faithful Christian. There was no celebrity saint distinction in the early church, so a lot of traditions have dropped All Souls while still others have dropped the whole concept of honoring the righteous dead altogether. That’s a grave mistake, in my opinion (pun absolutely intended).
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What is it you PLAN to do with your one wild and precious life?
As we’ve been moving through this series titled “One Life,” one of the questions we’ve been focusing on is based on that quote by poet Mary Oliver which we have posted on one of the banners out in the Great Room: “Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
So far we’ve talked about living a gifted life, living the gift of the Holy Spirit within us. We’ve talked about living a life that is pleasing to God, a “God-approved life” that perseveres and does the work of the kingdom. Last week we talked about living our one life in the “godly” way, that reflects the goal of life in Christ. Those are all about the nature of living a life that is wild and precious to God.
This week I want to focus on the word “plan.” What is it you “plan” to do with your one wild and precious life? It’s a question about intentionality and one that, as a former Army officer, I really gravitate toward. I am trained to get up every day and have a plan before my feet hit the floor. That might not be the way you operate (and I envy you in some ways!). But the truth is that all of us, on some level, need a plan if we’re going to live our one life with a purpose. The things we’ve talked about: giftedness, pleasing God, living in a godly way, are all about living a life that can fit into God’s plan for the world. When we are intentional about living our one life for God’s purposes, we find purpose for our own lives and can live them with joy and abundance.
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The Christian life can sometimes look like a hockey fight, but godliness is the goal!
It’s no secret to my congregation that I am a fan of my hometown Pittsburgh sports teams. Even though we’ve been living out west for 15 years, it’s an indicator that the old Pittsburgh adage is true: you can take the boy out of the ‘Burgh, but you can’t take the ‘Burgh out of the boy.
One of my favorite hometown sports to watch is hockey. When I was in college, the tickets were a lot cheaper than they are now, and my friends and I could go down to the old Civic Arena and cheer on the Penguins. One of the first dates I took Jennifer on was to a Penguins game—amazingly, she married me anyway
Now, one of the reasons I love hockey is the speed and the skill that’s demonstrated on the ice. It’s constant action. Of course, a lot of other people like hockey because of the fights (another old adage: “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out). In most sports, you get thrown out of the game if you fight, but in hockey you get five minutes in the penalty box to rest before you can come out and do it again.
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