We have taken time to reflect on the fact that, as God’s house begins to fill up, it often gets complicated and uncomfortable with messy people like ourselves. We don’t merely want tolerate that truth, but actually embrace it, because the Bible is clear that God likes it messy. In this message, we get specific and start naming and celebrating the gifts and strengths we’ve been blessed by from other Christians. Embracing the messy middle means intentionally focusing on what’s good, honorable, and valuable in each other’s traditions.
We have taken time to focus on the profound truth that everyone counts, on the wildly important vision for growth that God has called us to, and on three big commitments that we can each take to see that vision realized. We have spent time exploring Jesus’ parable of the banquet, and we have seen how wildly important it is to God that his house is full. In this message, we take time to reflect on the fact that, as God’s house begins to fill up, it often gets complicated and uncomfortable with messy people like ourselves. We’re going to learn not to resent or merely tolerate that truth, but actually embrace it. And that’s because God likes it messy.
In the new year of our life together, we take time to focus on the wildly important vision that God has called us to, and to talk about ways that we can each see that vision realized. In the new year, we’ll be talking a lot about growth, about counting, and about three key faith practices that we can each strive toward in order to become the community God desires us to be. And we’ll do all this because everyone counts.
We enter the Christmas story by looking back, back at the story of two of Jesus’ ancestors. What can the story of Judah and Tamar teach us about the God who came to live among us in Christ? What can we learn about our life together in this family of God?
In the Advent season, we both prepare to celebrate the coming of the Christ child as well as prepare our hearts and our lives for the return of the Messiah, his coming again to judge the world and usher in the fullness of God’s reign. But between Christ’s first coming and his final coming, we also find ourselves able to experience Jesus’ presence with us, here and now. We stop to consider the story of Joseph, who was called to be the earthly father of Jesus. We see in Joseph a remarkable example of an obedient response to the promise that God draws near – and we are challenged to do the same in our everyday life.
In the Advent season, we prepare in many ways to celebrate the coming of the Christ child. But we also turn our thoughts to preparing our hearts and our lives for the return of the Messiah, his coming again to judge the world and usher in the fullness of God’s reign. These readings draw our attention to the connection between the prophets’ promises of a Savior and the fulfillment of those promises in Jesus.
In the Church calendar, this is the beginning of the Advent season and a new church year. The season brings us into an awareness of Christ’s awaited return. What does it mean to stay ready and alert for a return that upends and reverses everything? How do we live expectantly in a situation of upheaval?
In the Church calendar, this is the Sunday of Christ the King, the last week of the church year. The following Sunday is the beginning of the Advent season and a new church year. Our theme recognizes the Lordship of Jesus Christ as it also brings us into an Advent awareness of his awaited return. What does it mean to stay ready and alert for something we can’t really imagine? What does it mean to wait for a return so long in coming? How do we live expectantly?