Sunday, December 2 is the first day of Advent and we’re beginning a new sermon series called “Immanuel: God With Us.” Here is the schedule for the sermon series followed by an explanation of the Advent and Christmas season.
Sermon Series Schedule
(12/02) Isaiah 7:1-17
(12/09) Isaiah 8:1-10
(12/16) Isaiah 8:19-9:7
(12/23) Isaiah 11:1-16
(12/30) Matthew 1:18-25
The Meaning of Advent
The Worship Sourcebook describes the season of Advent:
The great proclamation “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) assures us that God has entered into human history through the incarnation of the Son. The season of Advent, a season of waiting, is designed to cultivate our awareness of God’s actions—past, present, and future. In Advent we hear the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming as addressed to us—people who wait for the second coming. In Advent we heighten our anticipation for the ultimate fulfillment of all Old Testament promises, when the wolf will lie down with the lamb, death will be swallowed up, and every tear will be wiped away. In this way Advent highlights for us the larger story of God’s redemptive plan.
A deliberate tension must be built into our practice of the Advent season. Christ has come, and yet not all things have reached completion. While we remember Israel’s waiting and hoping and we give thanks for Christ’s birth, we also anticipate his second coming at the end of time. For this reason Advent began as a penitential season, a time for discipline and intentional repentance in the confident expectation and hope of Christ’s coming again.
The Meaning of Christmas
The Worship Sourcebook on the meaning Christmas:
At Christmas, we remember and celebrate the nativity of Christ and the mystery of the incarnation. Whereas during Advent we anticipate the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, at Christmas we identify with the angels who proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest”; with the shepherds, who were afraid but nevertheless offered worship; and with Mary, who pondered the meaning of these events in her heart (Luke 2:13-20) [...]
The Christmas season extends from December 25 through January 5 and includes at least one and usually two Sundays. Celebrating Christmas as a season helps us both to enter into the meaning of the incarnation more fully than celebrating a single day and to focus on additional Scripture texts that explore the meaning of Christmas beyond the familiar words of Luke 2.
Though North American culture considers Christmas the most important day of the Christian year, we must be careful to see the significance of Christmas in the light of all that follows, particularly Easter. In fact, Christmas is the first in a series of celebrations (Christmas, Epiphany, the baptism of our Lord, and the transfiguration of Jesus) that affirm the identity of Jesus as not only fully human but also fully divine. If the intervening weeks between these celebrations focus on the remarkable content of Jesus’ teaching and the relationships he established with his disciples, these four events anchor the church’s reflection on the meaning of Jesus’ life for our understanding of God and of the coming kingdom. Together, these celebrations prepare us for the journey toward the cross and the empty tomb.
This Sunday we start a new sermon series called “Questions for Christians.” We did this series back in 2014 as well. The 2018 series repeats three questions from 2014 (numbers 2, 3, and 8 below) and adds five new questions.
For several weeks, the congregation submitted common questions they receive from those who don’t identify with the Christian faith. The selected questions below include the most asked questions or questions with common themes.
Here is the schedule for the series:
(09/23) How is the church any different than a business protecting its brand?
(09/30) Is Christianity and science compatible?
(10/07) Why does God allow so much suffering in this world?
(10/14) Don't the OT stories and laws contradict the life and teachings of Jesus?
(10/21) How can Christians be so hateful and arrogant?
(10/28) Do Christians really believe God torments people in hell for eternity?
(11/04) What is the relationship between the Christian faith and politics?
(11/11) Why do Christians have such a narrow view of sex?
We all struggle between the person we are and the person we want to be. That struggle may be with discontentment, resentment, anxiety, or disapproval (with self or from others). This series considers the impact of sin on our character and the restoration of our character through the power of Christ. When Jesus restores our character, he restores us to be truly human.
Here is an overview of the series:
Week 1 (01/08): A Hopeful and Realistic Pathway of Character Restoration (Romans 7:9-8:39)
Week 2 (01/15): From Discontentment to Learning Contentment (Philippians 4:10-20)
Week 3 (01/22): From Resentment to Practicing Forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35)
Week 4 (01/29): From Anxiety to Seeking the Kingdom (Matthew 6:25-34)
Week 5 (02/05): From Trying to Please Others to Serving Christ (Galatians 1:6-10)