Don't forget that this Sunday, Christmas Eve, 6 of the 8 churches that call our campus home, will gather together for one huge birthday celebration as we reflect on the birth of Jesus......our Messiah!
The morning will kick-off at 9:00am with our Christmas Cafe'. The Christmas Cafe' will be located in the Fireside room and will feature regular and specialty coffee, hot chocolate, smoothies and assorted pastries.
Our Carols and Candlelight service will begin at 10:00am. Highlights will include a kid's time, where we will invite all the kids to join Pastor Tom, from our Chinese Church, for a reading of the Christmas story from Luke 2. There will also be scripture readings in each language that is represented (4 languages in all)! And of course, we will end our service by candlelight as we sing Silent Night.
NOTE: Because we are combining with the other churches, we anticipate having a full parking lot. To allow our guests to park in our church lot, we are asking our volunteers to either park on the street or in the parking lot on the southwest side of the tennis courts across from the Beaverton High School football field. We will have a shuttle beginning at 7:45am to transport you to the church and will also take you back after the service. For the rest of you, please try to come as a family in one car and follow the directions of our parking lot volunteers.
Before I move on, I just have one question: Who are you bringing with you this Sunday?
As you prepare your hearts for the arrival of Jesus, I want to leave you with an excerpt from God Came Near by Max Lucado. It's called Mary's Prayer. I hope you enjoy it.
"God. O infant-God. Heaven's fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.
Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds. Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.
Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious: to touch a leper's open wound, to wipe a widow's weary tears, to claw the ground of Gethsemane.
Your hands, so tiny, so tender, so white--clutched tonight in an infant's fist. They aren't destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross.
Lay still tiny mouth. Lay still mouth from which eternity will speak. Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead, that will define grace, that will silence our foolishness. Rosebud lips--upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you--lay still.
And little heart....holy heart.....pumping the blood of life through the universe: How many times will we break you? You will be torn by the thorns of our accusations. You'll be ravaged by the cancer of our sin. And you'll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.
Yet in the piercing, you will find rest. Your hands will be freed, your eyes will see justice, your lips will smile, and your feet will carry you home.
And there you'll rest again--but this time in the embrace of your Father."
Christmas always brings a rush of different emotions......sadness, hope, loss, excitement, fear, anticipation, uncertainty, love. No matter which of these emotions describes your Christmas, allow the final words of Mary's prayer to guide you through this season, knowing that one day, you'll rest again in the embrace of your Heavenly Father.
See you Sunday.
Before your keep reading, take a second, close your eyes and think about a time in your life, either recently, or in the past, when you experienced joy at Christmas. Joy is one of those words that seems to always rise in popularity around the Christmas season. It seems like every Christmas card I get has the word joy written somewhere on it. Many of our favorite Christmas carols contain the word joy. "Joy to the world"....."O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant"....."joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies"....."and the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains".....just to name a few.
What an amazing gift joy can be. When it's present, our lives are richer, and when it's absent there's an emptiness in our souls. As simple as joy sounds, it really is a complex subject and in some ways, hard to define. But once you've experienced it, once you've tasted joy in your life, there's a longing in your heart to want to know and experience it again and again.
Over next 10 days, as we prepare for Christmas, I want you to think about and try to answer for yourself, three questions about joy: Where does joy come from? How do you get joy? And what are we supposed to do with joy when it comes our way?
To help you get started, I want to share with you one key point for each question.
1. Where does joy come from? Jesus answered this question in John 15:11, when he said, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." Jesus, whose birth we will celebrate in just over a week is the source of joy.
2. How do we get joy? In his autobiography, C.S. Lewis said that his search for God really began as a search for joy. And in his search for joy, he discovered God, who is the source of joy. God has given us the freedom to choose whether or not we want to follow him, which if C.S. Lewis is correct in saying that God is the source of joy, then our joy comes when we choose to follow God. Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, choose God and allow his son, Jesus to fill your life with joy.
3. What do we do with joy? Building on our answers to the first two questions, if God and his son Jesus are the source of joy, then our response to joy should be to share it. The Bible says that joy isn't something you're supposed to keep to yourself. Rather, it's something you should express, just like the shepherds did on that first Christmas. After seeing Jesus they immediately shared what the angels had told them about this child and then they returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.
Will you be filled with joy this Christmas? Biblical joy comes from the presence of Jesus Christ in your life and it's a choice to be embraced and it's a gift to share with others.
Come Sunday and be ready to "repeat the sounding joy"!
I love this time of year; things are festive, people are joyful as they get back into church, songs are sung and hearts are merry. This Sunday kicks-off the season of Advent at FBC. What is Advent? Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. It involves, readings, candle lightings and singing! For the next 4 Sundays, leading up to Christmas, we will take time in our service to prepare our hearts for the expected arrival of our King.....Jesus.
On this first Sunday of Advent, we will light the prophecy or hope candle. This candle reminds us of the hope that was provided from ages past, concerning the coming of Christ, the Messiah, who would soon arrive to give hope and provide salvation to a lost and hurting world. As you begin to prepare the way for the arrival of Jesus, I want to encourage you to read Psalm 62:5, Isaiah 9:2-7, Ephesians 1:12 and Luke 3:2-16. Spend some time over the next two days preparing your hearts and minds for the gift of God's Son, our Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
This Sunday also begins a week of prayer for international missions. While some will go, many will give, all must pray for the missionaries who have committed their lives to spreading the hope of Jesus to a lost and dying world. Why pray? In order to answer this question, we must understand that prayer is not just some ritualistic or mechanical exercise that we try to do every day. David Platt, President of the International Mission Board, said this about prayer, "God has ordained our prayer as a means to accomplish His purpose in the world. We've got to be aware that our praying for boldness for missionaries is actually going to affect whether or not they have boldness. When we pray, God works." Let's commit ourselves to being a part of God at work in our world.
See you Sunday.