Our Advent sermon series this year is called, “Sacred,” and I am hoping to challenge you to see our preparations for Christmas through the Advent season as truly sacred.

Sacred Time

We began our Advent Journey on Nov 27 by thinking about Sacred Time. One of the ways we measure “sacred time” in the Church is through our pattern of the liturgical year. The liturgical year measures the way we break our calendars into a series of seasons, holidays, and festivals. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year, and it is an observation of waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. Of course as Christians, we claim to be a people who have already received Jesus Christ as the Messiah. So why do we claim also to be waiting and watching for the Messiah?

We claim to be waiting and watching for the Messiah not only because we are honoring the generations who awaited the arrival of the Savior and Redeemer, but because we are also still waiting for the arrival of the peace that Jesus’ birth was to bring to the earth. This is the paradox of the “Already but not yet.” Some Christian’s interpret this to mean that we are waiting for Jesus’ second coming. Some Christians interpret this to mean that Jesus already “Came Back” in the Resurrection that we celebrate on Easter. This interpretation encourages us to recognize that Christ is already here and present in the world through the constant work of the Holy Spirit — gifting and encouraging and comforting people. If we see it this way, then we recognize that it is our work, our job to bring about this “Not Yet” Kingdom of God — where “the lion shall lay down with the lamb.”

It isn’t easy or logical to understand the sacred time of the “Already but Not Yet” Kingdom. But our faith is not founded on logic, is it? Dr. David Lose, a professor at Luther Seminary, helps me remember it isn’t about logic:

“None of this makes sense. Except that it God’s way of showing God’s profound love for us, leaving all things behind in order to appear before us in a form we can receive and accept. God as God is too terrifying for mere mortals to behold, let alone receive, and so God comes to us as one of us: vulnerable, weak, frail, subject to illness and disappointment and rejection, all so that we can perceive that God is with us and for us and will not abandon us, as Luther shares in a Christmas sermon from 1530:
If Christ had arrived with trumpets and lain in a cradle of gold, his birth would have been a splendid affair. But it would not be a comfort to me. He was rather to lie in the lap of a poor maiden and be thought of little significance in the eyes of the world. Now I can come to him. Now he reveals himself to the miserable in order not to give any impression that he arrives with great power, splendor, wisdom, and aristocratic manners.
Hard to believe? Absolutely. Which is why there is Advent – four weeks to get used to the idea that almighty God would do anything to convey to us God’s parental, enduring, and redeeming love. And our weeks to be prepared to be surprised yet again by just how far God will go to reach us. Let the preparations begin!” http://www.davidlose.net/2016/12/advent-preparation/
Make your four weeks filled with “Sacred Time” by making every moment, every preparation, every gift sacred.

Sacred People

Last Sunday, Dec 4, we explored the idea of “Sacred People.” Through the stories of two very ordinary people, Joseph and Mary, we listened to how they became extraordinary when they agreed to the mighty tasks that God had called them to. Joseph was called to name a baby, born out of wedlock, as his own. And he did this — we read inMatthew 1:25 that Joseph named this baby, “Jesus.” This is significant for us, for in the tradition of the Israelites, the naming of the child indicated the adoption into the blood line of the family.

Mary was an ordinary young woman, who answered the Call to bear God to the world through the birth of Jesus. She questioned how this could even come about, and was assured that “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

We too, just “ordinary” people, become extraordinary and sacred when we answer God’s call to bear love, joy, and peace to the world. God is made manifest through us through actions and words of loving kindness.

Don’t get overwhelmed! Bearing God to the world doesn’t always mean doing something huge and world-changing. Bearing God in your own sacred Call could be a simple smile, a phone call, a note written, a prayer uttered, a word of encouragement given. These simple actions help us to bring the kin-dom of God into this world.

Even more than that, we are called to all people as sacred people. It can be tough — can’t it? Aren’t there always people who seem to be completely unlovable? But no matter how unlovable a person may seem, they are still sacred. Don’t pray for them to change — pray for your own heart to be like the heart of God and to see that person as God does — a beloved child, called by name and loved deeply by their creator.

If we can begin to see ourselves and others as Sacred People, this Advent season will truly be a season where we move from darkness to light, and the “Not Yet” part will begin to come to fruition.

With Great Hope and Expectation,

Rev. Paula

CEH Encouragement

During our recent Extravagant Generosity Stewardship Campaign, I asked those in attendance to write down the reasons why they support CEH through their gifts of time, talent, and/or treasure. We had so many wonderful responses! I’ll be featuring them over the next month or so. I hope you enjoy reading the reasons why people attend and support CEH:

▪ I come to CEH because in a difficult time for me, it is an overwhelmingly welcoming, positive and supportive place, for not only me but for my child. I am learning how to show him how to forgive, let go, and lead a better life.
▪ I share my time and talents offering or providing help. It feels good to help her at at work and hopefully relieves others and helps them feel good too.
▪ Helping people.
▪ I can’t even describe how much I love this community. All the friendly people that support each other, hold each other’s’ hands and that are so giving. And it is wonderful and I am so thankful that the church makes a better person out of me. I love the topics of the services because they remind me of things that are so important but I wouldn’t think about without the church. And I must say that I am not confessed but I just love this community and Church of Eternal Hills. And I just love to see all those happy people!!!

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