December 2017


     Once again I was privileged to sit at the feet of Ken Ham at a recent Pastors' conference.  The theme of this conference was "Foundations", where the foundations of faith are under assault from every angle but the Holy Spirit reminds us that the Lord, Yahweh, reigns from His temple full of grace and truth. It starts innocently enough—a small crack in an otherwise pristine foundation. Widening undetected, soon the small crack can grow into a giant chasm separating The Truth from reality.
     As we again recite the story of Jesus' birth, the world seeks to silence the Christ of Christmas!  Do our children and grandchildren believe Jesus' story as a tale or the truth of History?  How do we teach distinction between the stories of Santa Claus,  Rudolf,  the Easter Bunny and Jesus?  What is real, what is simply a good story?
     "Science" means knowledge.  People of "wisdom" tell us what has happened and why.  For example, Job was counseled by his "wise" friends about his misfortune and suffering, but he is not comforted with their wisdom.  He says (Job 16: 2), "I have heard many things like these; you are all miserable counselors, all of you!"  He is grieving over his heartache and pain, and he is confident that God will help him.  He is patient with his friends!  Job continues to be counseled by these "wise" friends, but believes this is his deserved punishment.  WHY?  Often, we just don't know.
     In Job 36-37 Elihu highlights God’s greatness. This lengthy portion declares many of God’s attributes. In Job 36:26 Elihu states, “How great is God—beyond our understanding! "   He doesn't answer Job about his suffering, but about God's faithfulness.  God is building character!  Remember?  Suffering, perseverance, character, hope?  
     Finally, in Job 38,  God comes to Job, and asks, "Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? .... Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations?  Tell me, if you understand."  God's foolishness confounds the wise of this world.  (Look at 1 Corinthians 3).
     To fully tell the story of Jesus we look at the Old Testament which is the accurate history of the world.  God was there at creation!  The Scriptures, God's record, tell us what happened.  There was death AFTER disobedience,  God's judgments in a worldwide flood, and yet, promises of deliverance.  The Old Testament prophecies foretold about  the Christ's (Messiah's) birth, ministry, the people's reaction, and his own death and resurrection!  These prophets laid a firm foundation to understand the person and work of Christ.
     The birth and ministry of Jesus were everything that the prophets foretold.  In light of the New Testament fulfillment, we know that we can trust the truthfulness of the Scriptures.
In this season we MUST tell His Story,   His'tory!!  It's TRUE, after all!
Dearly beloved,
In November we take the opportunity once again to celebrate how much God loves us:   for the faithful who have entered heaven's gates as our justification is complete only through faith in Jesus;   also, for our many freedoms that have been won for us as we remember those Veterans who gave the ultimate;  and certainly, His mercy as we so often neglect to say "Thank You!"  for all the love He has shown to us.   "O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever!"

As I write the rain is pounding the roof and the dogs are restless.  The power has gone out a couple of times, once for a few seconds, and again for more than an hour!  (I need to get this done and saved before it happens again!)
     With all the moisture and falling temps I can just imagine a fog clouding visibility in the morning. A great deal of life is like driving in the fog. Our visibility is limited and we move slowly along the roads of life. We do not have a clear vision of what will happen next. Trying to find our way through personal problems, economic concerns, and family issues is like driving through the fog rather than moving down the road on a clear day. We do want to be in control!
     Likewise, matters of faith and belief are sometimes more like a fog than a clear day. Most of us live in a fog when it comes to questions like “Why, God, is this happening to me?” and “What does God want me to do?” We are not really sure of how to live our lives for God.  We are witnesses of His love, but when pressed we may not come across so clearly.  Where is the answer for these moments of limited vision?
     I'm reminded of a sermon illustration of a young preacher who walked by a man’s house every morning. The man was always outside working in his garden. Every time he passed the house, the pastor heard the man whistling as loud as he could.
     The pastor wondered why he was whistling all the time. One day he decided to ask him. As he got to the man's house, he noticed on the porch a women sitting in a wheel chair. After some conversation, the pastor asked the man, “Sir, I hear you whistling all the time when I pass by. Tell me, why do you whistle so much?” The man said, “well, you see, my wife is crippled and also blind. She cannot see where I go and what I am doing. I whistle to let her know that I am nearby. I whistle to let her know that if she ever needs me I will be there.”
     We need to remember in those moments of fog and spiritual blindness in our lives, God is whistling, (or maybe whispering),  and trying to let us know that He is near. That He loves us. That He wants to help us. That He wants to use His power to perform some fog-clearing moments in our lives.
     So on a foggy day may we keep our ears open to the whistle of God. This gives us assurance that He is near and that with Him we can see forever and ever.
     To whom do you wish to give thanks?   Let us, first of all, give thanks to GOD, for His daily care and provision, and the forgiveness of sins at the expense of Jesus' life!  Then,  thank a Veteran!  Most have been separated from their loved ones for a lengthy deployment, and that is a sacrifice indeed!  Let's be thoughtful and responsive!   And let us be a "Grateful Nation" to all!                                                                     God loves YOU,  so do I .....    PB
     How do YOU respond??  Are we united in our walk together?  We've seen so much divisiveness in the news in the past year.  In the past few days we've heard "Here We Stand" as well as "We kneel in solidarity!"  
     When we disagree with someone's view, how do we respond?  Some will confront so to challenge or understand the other's viewpoint.   Some will say it's their right to feel that way and let it flow off our backs.  Some will protest in one way or another, trying to win in the court of public opinion.
     Christians should repond and express their faith — through acts of mercy in times of tragedy, such as following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  When the enemy attacks we need to bind together to encourage the right and defeat the wrong.  But lately we might wonder "Just who is the enemy?"  Is Mother Nature an enemy?  Are these God's judgments on a wicked world?  How do we respond to disaster, like the earthquakes in Mexico?  At what point do we send up a prayer asking, "WHY?  
     Many are protesting in our land.  Who or what are they protesting?  "I don't agree with the results of the election, or the court's ruling,  so I have a right to march, loot or dishonor!"  Really?   
     It's been a long time since a group of underdog college kids beat the Soviets on ice at Lake Placid. Do you remember when President Bush walked to the mound at Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch after 9/11, and America cheered?  I pouted, (not protested) when J.D. and J.V. and Alex Avila surrendered their Tiger's uniforms to play elsewhere.   Sure, these were just games -- but to a nation in crisis, they were so much more. These were the sports that united a country.
     This past weekend sports was no longer the healer -- but the divider. A storm that had been brewing since the moment quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit out the National Anthem finally boiled over, and for the first time in a long time, the biggest storyline on NFL Sunday had nothing to do with the scores.
     The media seems to have praised the league with their solidarity in taking a knee, but how about the double standards on social media with pictures of Coach Joe Kennedy or Tim Tebow, who were mocked or outright punished when they took a knee... in prayer?  Many of us are eager to call on America do exactly that, to get on our knees before God that He would show mercy that we make a real difference in this splintered country.  We do need to pray for unity.   If we don't we will destroy ourselves, for we will reenact the civil war that took the lives of so many Americans,  from within!
     Luther sought to unite the Church with the truth of God's Word, that we are rescued from Hell by grace through faith in Jesus,  not purchased via indulgences or by doing good works!  He nailed those 95 theses, (points to debate), so that the Church would celebrate the Blood of the Lamb shed into death offering LIFE to those who trust in Jesus!  So, WHO is the enemy?  Not the Church, but Satan, who's still seeks to divide nation, family, and church.
     Let us kneel in solidarity to pray to the One who heals our land as we turn from our wicked ways to live in peace with one another!                        GLYSDI,   PB
     The faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis was heavily involved in the filming of “MARTIN LUTHER: The Idea that Changed the World.”   PBS is showing the film on September 12 at 8 PM.  
     One reviewer (Jeff Kloha) writes, "Martin Luther remains one of the most important and influential people in the western world. The year 2017 will see both scholarship and popular media reflect and comment on Martin Luther and his legacy—sometimes negatively. His reform of the church, his translation of the Bible, and his reshaping of Christian life changed the religious, social, and political face of Europe. These reverberations are still felt today—even here in far-away America, where Christianity and even the nation itself would look very different were it not for Martin Luther."
     He continues, "But who was Martin Luther? What was his world like? And, most importantly, what is the significance of his message today? Trying to imagine this 500 years later is not easy; trying to visualize and verbalize it through film is both an opportunity and a challenge. In this film, in addition to accurately representing historical details like clothing, architecture, sounds, and attitudes, the most important work is to communicate Luther’s ideas to a modern audience. Technical vocabulary of “justification,” “gospel,” or even “sin” can be misleading or confusing not only to life-long Lutherans but especially to those who are not connected to a congregation. How do we connect the world-changing message of the Gospel—and Luther’s insight into that Gospel—with secular viewers whose only brush with theology is their belief that “I am a good person”?
     Being a “good person” is not what Christianity is all about—it is all about Jesus Christ! It is about his love that lays down his own life for God’s enemies—that is, even you and me. It is about receiving “the good life” even in the midst of despair and uncertainty and suffering and death. It is a message that God is not like us:  he does not look for us to be beautiful and then love us. No! God in Christ does the opposite. He makes us pleasing to himself, in Christ, and loves us as his new creation. Purely out of fatherly, divine, goodness and mercy. Now that is worth remembering—and sharing—even 500 years later!
     We're now about 6 weeks away from our celebration of the Reformation 500 years later, at the Breslin Center.  I wonder how the Catholic Church is feeling about the whole event.  Will there be protests?  Luther sought to unite the Church in the truth of Scripture stating "we are saved by grace through FAITH , it is a gift, and not of works ..."(Eph. 2: 8)   Even the Christian Church is divided into denominations with differing views of what the Bible says, and some even question the authority of the Bible!  How do we get to heaven?  Some claim "There is no Hell, so all are saved!"  That isn't what the Bible says!
     Join us again Tuesday evenings as we pursue God's truth and the strength and wisdom to share His love with everyone!  Review the explanation Luther offers to the 3rd Commandment.  You remember it, right?  How do we reSpect God's Word?    Don't rebel and protest God's presence, but proclaim your freedom IN CHRIST to those He sets before you!
     GLYSDI,   PB

     ATONEMENT -- At One Ment

     HARK! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the Newborn King! Peace on earth, Good will to men, God and sinners reconciled".   Sung many times over the past few weeks, do we really comprehend the significance and need for reconciliation?  Not only with God, but with one another we need peace.
     I've thought much about this lately, as Kathy's brother died so suddenly with complications due to cancer.  He had a great smile and laugh.  He could have been one of Santa's elves with his jolly laugh, long beard, and that round belly.  But he could be very abrasive too, and rub you the wrong way quickly.  Several times he had been told to "never come back here".        
     He had conflicts with family members too.  He became separated from those he loved because arguements often ensued over just frivilous discussion!  He isolated himself (or was it insulated?) and he was not offered all the invitations for celebrations that others were afforded.  We loved him, but it was easier if we loved him from a distance.   Kathy and I also sought reconciliation between he and the others, and regret that it didn't happen sooner for some and never for others.  Reconciliation is something we still continue to work on.

     God loves us!  And He wants a closer relationship with us, but our desires to feed our bodies and minds with self-serving lusts and desires further drives a wedge into the relationship.  We are wonderers and wanderers, as we question what something would be like, then explore and experiment.   
     Let me develop this further, through the mind of, let's say,  a young boy ... He sees something which stirs his thoughts, maybe through the watching of a movie.   Taking nudity as an example, this prompts excitement in some form.  Then, he has a desire to see more.  His conscience, we hope, causes guilt to arise within him, but he wonders why what he saw created such a reaction in his mind and body.  Maybe it becomes an obsession for a time, and wants to see more.  To complicate the issue, access to the Internet is almost everywhere, so he pokes around on his phone or computer.  As you can imagine, one thing leads to another, and an addiction / obsession may ensue. How much further could we take this?  I'll let it go here ...
       You've perhaps seen TV programs of those with addictions to drugs and alcohol, hoarding, food, sex, cars, power, etc.  Anything can become an addiction.  If anything takes us away from our walk with God, we need to re-assess the issue.  Are you being led astray?  By what? or who?
     As we reflect on our wishes for a better New Year,  may we pursue a renewed love for God, and run toward Him.  Won't you commit yourself to a few minutes each day in His Word, and make it a habit / addiction.  Grow in Christ!
     Let us be one in Christ and One with Him.  at one ment = atonement  
Peace ...  GLYSDI,  PB

DECEMBRRRRR!!!  This month is the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, yet the people who journey to Bethlehem find the brightest of lights, the Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made  Jesus, the Son of God!  As we go among the shepherds we'll be awakened with a startling sight:  angels, who lit up the sky and announced Jesus' birth .... PAY ATTENTION!  "Unto you ..."

Advent is a season of anticipation, of holy waiting. It is a waiting characterized not by idleness or even contented peace, but by prophetic declaration and active hope.  In remembering the anticipation of Christ’s first coming, we acknowledge and nurture our anticipation of Christ’s second coming.  The prophets cry out (in their own way), "PAY ATTENTION! Judgment is coming!"  We are today's watchmen!

 Advent is a season of surprises too, of God showing up when and where we least expect Emmanuel.    Where do you see Him?  In a womb, in a barn,  as a poor minority in an oppressive empire, at the soup kitchen, at a church service you resisted attending, or in that family member with whom you disagree?  In every corner of this world from Ionia, to Palestine, and into your kitchen,  this is a season to slow down and pay attention, to listen to the prophets, and to see  God in all of life's trials.

But I am easily distracted.  Are you?  ...                            Helloooo....
             Hey YOU—Pay Attention!                   Be watchful! Be Alert!                                     Wake Up Already!

This series should be fun ...  I continue to think about situations where paying attention is valuable... Life gets busy and I for one can get caught up in all that needs to get done. Even when I’m trying to pray,  it easily can become a ‘to do’ list and I fail to give the attention to the Holy One that is amidst and amongst all the doing.  So when I considered the shake up that the prophets sought to invoke, the theme "Pay Attention" awakened me.  Yes, that's what it's about.  LOOK, SEE WHAT GOD IS DOING!"

I think I remeber in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, (or Dr. Phil),  who talked about how often when talking with their guests  wanted to ask them—“why didn’t you pay attention to your life?”  She was amazed that seemingly intelligent, ‘with it’ people could sleepwalk through their life. They didn’t reflect on what was happening around them, what people were telling them, what doors were opening.  They simply appeared to stubbornly barrel on unconsciously while their life slowly crumbled around them.

What is God wanting me to be alert to right now? Am I paying attention? Do I sometimes get so caught up in the doing that I miss God’s nudges?  I do know that when I get bogged down by the doing, the busyness, that I miss out and get let's say, difficult. I don’t always take time to appreciate a quiet snow fall or the tear in someone’s eye.  I look past the beautiful sunset and forget to be grateful. Again this Advent I want to slow down and become more alert. I pray to pay attention to life and discover the grace of God that surrounds us all.   And I hope you will too!



THANK YOU!  for the wonderful Easter gathering again this year!  The focus on the Lamb of God throughout the Lenten season seemed most appropriate as we consider Jesus' shed blood and the sacrifices that many others have made so that we can declare our freedom to choose to follow Him, or to turn back.  We have several opportunities to invite guests back to Holy Cross this April.   

As we conclude our look at the prophesies fulfilled by Christ in the next couple of weeks, our Tuesday studies will turn toward an active prayer life.  The movie we recently watched, "The War Room",  gets me to rethink my prayer life and my strategy in prayer.  PRAYER IS A POWERFUL WEAPON!  But do we know how to effectively tap the resources made available to us?  Do we know how to pray?  Ms. Clara questioned Elizabeth of her prayer life:  hot, cold or ???.  How is yours?  She asks Elizabeth if she goes to church regularly, to which she replies, "Occassionally."  So Clara replies, "Is that because your pastor only preaches occassionally?"  I like that response.   The enemy seeks to destroy the peace, love and happiness of relationships, with one another and with God Himself!  Do we really consider Who our enemy is?  With whom do we fight and argue?  How do we handle it?  Do we love the ones with whom we fight?  The devil is the "serpent of old" (Rev. 12: 9) the tempter (Gen. 3) , the father of lies (Jn. 8: 44), and disguised as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11: 14).     The Scriptures read: "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 john 4: 4)   JOIN US as we enter "The War Room" to consider our strategy in the battle!

Next, Our FRIENDSHIP SUNDAY is scheduled early in April, the 10th!!  Once again we are asking that you invite and welcome family and friends to come and worship with us on that day!  If you are uncomfortable about speaking with them about Jesus, then I especially encourage you to simply ask them to come to church and sit with you as we celebrate Friendship.  It won't be a "traditional" service.  There's a meal which follows, a Pot-Luck Luncheon, and we do ask, as many are able, to bring a dish or two to share with (hopefully) a good number of visitors.  Please do your part in making this day SPECIAL:   PRAY, talk with others, invite, plan,  prepare food,  help with dishes, etc.  How does it all get done??  A Family that prays together, stays together.... A church family that serves together grows closer.   PLEASE, Help!

Later in the month, on the 23rd, OUR SWISS STEAK DINNER will bring others into our church building.  This, once again, requires plenty of planning and TEAMWORK.  Many volunteers have made this work a lot lighter, and gives joy to the team leaders.  Your gifts of time and action are greatly welcomed and appreciated.  One Message is declared often at HCLC:  "I'm so GLAD I'm a PART of the FAMILY OF GOD!  I've been washed in the Fountain, Cleansed by His BLOOD.  Joint HEIRS with Jesus, as we travel this sod.  For I'm Part of the family, the FAMILY of God."    (Did I get it right?  I typed it from memory)  I like working around JOY-FILLED people. HOW can we interact with our guests so that some might consider coming back to hear the GOOD NEWS through us?  

We've a Story to Tell to the Nations, starting right here in Ionia and Montcalm Counties.  Maybe it needs to be retold to someone you know who has struggled, and been told God is Dead, or that He doesn't care.  Often the Church and its leaders are guilty of neglect or just not knowing what to do.   We are God's hands and voice today, but we don't have His wisdom and knowledge.  We fall short, but He doesn't.  He has that Action Plan, and we pray for Him to work through us, in spite of our short-comings.   Won't you PLAN to walk, work and pray with us all?


Why Is God So Obsessed with Blood?

     Like it or not, the Bible is a bloody book. From beginning to end it revels in blood. Within just the first few chapters of Genesis, a blood sacrifice is implied as God used animals’ skins to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). In the deliverance of the Hebrew people from the grip of Egypt, God instructed them to make a blood sacrifice from a spotless lamb and then coat their doorposts with this blood (Ex. 12:13). Then shortly thereafter, God instituted a law requiring a yearly sacrifice of untainted goats and lambs. The blood from this act was of utmost importance. It needed to be sprinkled around the altar by a high priest so that Israel could maintain a relationship with God.
     The New Testament reveals that these bloody sacrifices precluded that of Jesus Christ, who came to the earth as an innocent, spotless lamb and endured horrific mutilation on the cross as the final, once-for-all sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. The event was so bloody, in fact, that the Bible describes that Jesus wasn’t even recognizable as a man (Is. 52:14). And just as blood was used in Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, the Bible concludes by affirming Christ- followers in their sustained victory over the clutches of Satan through the blood of the Lamb,  (Rev. 12:11).
    Please understand -- to God, blood isn’t gore. Sin is what has made it gory. When you hear of a murder, often you picture a tragic blood slaughter. Where there’s a car accident, there’s almost always great bloodshed. And so we view blood as the most disgusting representation of all that’s wrong with the world. None of these are God’s original design, but the results of sin.
     How are we to be set free from the debt and guilt of sin?  Our Lenten studies have focused on the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  It entails SACRIFICE,  the giving of oneself.  Ultimately, the Shepherd becomes the Lamb who gives His life for the sheep, the wandering and lost sheep.  His blood shed for the redemption of the sinners, the ungodly.  Rom. 5: 6)
     Indeed, sin is what perverted blood and equated it with death. God, however, created blood to represent life. This is what Scripture affirms:  “For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11).
     More than anything else in the body, blood is essential to life. It’s what carries the fuel and oxygen to the billions of cells in our bodies. Blood supplies the brain and the heart with the necessary nourishment to function. It also carries carbon dioxide and other waste materials to the digestive system, where they are then removed from the body. Without blood we couldn’t keep warm or cool, fight infections, or get rid of our own waste products. Additionally, our very identity—our DNA—is located in our blood.  We must understand this: God is so obsessed with blood because He’s so obsessed with life.
     Equating blood with life will change the way you read the Bible, and thus, how you think about God. The coverings He provided Adam and Eve after their sin were coverings of life. The blood on the doorposts of the Hebrew people at Passover was the protection of life. The yearly sacrifice God instituted for Israel was intended to restore them with life.
     We go through the seasons of the Church Year,  remembering Jesus' Birth, His association with humankind, then His Death, burial and Resurrection!   HE LIVES!!  And because He lives, so shall all who  believe in Him live!!  Alleluia!                                                                         GLYSDI,  PB

Mid-Week Special Services       (Lent begins on February 10)

The late, great theologian Erma Bombeck once wrote,
“In church the other Sunday I was intent on a small child who was turning around smiling at everyone. He wasn’t gurgling, spitting, humming, kicking, tearing the hymnals, or rummaging through his mother’s handbag. He was just smiling. Finally, his mother jerked him about and in a stage whisper that could be heard in a little theater off Broadway said, ‘Stop grinning! You’re in church’ And with that she gave him a swat on his hindside and as the tears rolled down his cheeks added, ‘that’s better,’ and returned to her prayers.”   She goes on to say “I wanted to grab this child with the tear-stained face and hold him close to me and tell him about my God. The God of joy. The smiling God. The God who had to have the sense of humor to have created the likes of us.”

There is Joy as we gather together to worship Him, and as we hear His Word.  He wants to have fellowship with us, that we know and trust Him above all things, and desire to live with Him in His Kingdom forevermore.  

Throughout the history of the Christian Church, the faithful have gathered at the church for worship, not only on Sundays, but throughout the week as well. Holy Cross has appointed a few times throughout the course of the year for 'mid-week' worship. During the season of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, we are called to come to the church for worship on Wednesdays evenings for six consecutive weeks. During Holy Week, we are called to come to church on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Additional 'mid-week' services we've limited to Advent, and Christmas Eve.

Why is it important to respond to the call to come to these 'mid-week' services?
   For one, they mark the most significant events in the life of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ, we want to be with Him and celebrate His life in His temple. Compare this to the birthday or anniversary of a child or parent or dear friend. We surely would not miss attending the occasion unless it was absolutely impossible to be present.
   Secondly, it is important to allow these important times to interrupt our daily routine. When the church calls it's people to come to church during the mid-week, it is an interruption to our regular routine (and we all like our routines), and it may be a refreshing opportunity to see the presence of Jesus in the middle of our day-to-day life that we too often miss. It also presents the opportunity for the strengthening of self-discipline to set aside what can be set aside for the sake of hearing the Word, and for prayer.

I suspect that a great many people, both outside as well as inside the church may wonder just how much pleasure and joy is appropriate for Christians. Confession, repentance, self-sacrifice seem to be the dominate themes of the faith. Yet, the call to ‘rejoice’ is a command that is repeated over and over again throughout the Old and New Testament. What does the Bible have to say about pleasure and joy? It’s important for us to know because it does seem as though we are confused, and in our confusion, we have taken this whole business of pleasure and joy out of God’s hands. Which may well account for why we are such a “pleasure-seeking” people and yet such a joyless people as well.

The angels announce “joy to the world,” because “the Lord has come.” Jesus offers you a “complete joy.” He says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. As the Father has loved me so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”

The Christian faith is not a theology of sorrow and sadness. By no means! It is a theology of joy. But it is a theology that real joy is to be found in a relationship with the One who has established true joy through His death and resurrection. Only in Him will your joy and pleasure ever be “complete.”

Join us again on the Lenten Journey, won't you?


     HAPPY ADVENT!!  It's like saying, "Happy New Year!"  New Beginnings!  We welcome Jesus to Bethlehem once again, but also look for His return from heaven to be Judge. Both His first and second comings we herald!
     So, this is the season of preparation for Christmas,  and just a month away as I write.  Black Friday is soon behind us. There have been a few commercials that just frustrate me.  One in particular speaks to camping out so that the shopper could save hundreds, while the neighbor says he got a full night's rest, and he saved thousands by buying a new vehicle (for himself!)  Now, that's the spirit of Black Friday, isn't it?  It's the season for giving, right?  As God gave, so we show our love for Him as well as our neighbors.  
     Don't get me wrong, I like this season.  I love to hear the carols, watch the TV specials, and see the lights.  I study new recipes that I might just try, and I remember those Christmases past, wondering how to make this coming one a little different.  Christmas is the celebration of God coming into the world in human flesh, making His home among us.  We celebrate and confess the Scriptures’ truth that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. The miracle and mystery of God coming to earth in humanity is why we need Advent, too.
      So, amid the joy of preparation, we need to take the time to slow down and reflect.  Jesus’ journey was to earth, and His destination, specifically, was the cross, where He would take my sins and yours and the world’s, and accomplish the reason for His coming — to be Savior ["Peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled"].   Joy to the world, if only they would realize the LORD has come!
      The word “Advent” means “Coming.”  Our Bible readings each Sunday in church will tell of various times Jesus entered to be among the people.  He’ll ride into Jerusalem.  He’ll step from the crowd into the Jordan to be baptized by John, His forerunner.
     We’ll also hear about His second Advent, His second Coming, when He will judge the living and the dead.  This teaching of the second Advent leaves us awestruck — and also lets us think of a simple truth:  Jesus was promised and prophesied for thousands of years, then at the right time He came in person.  So if He promised and it is prophesied that He will come a second time, He is able to do it — at the right time and in person.  Advent, among its many themes, would have us look toward Jesus’ second coming, and always be ready.
     The Wednesday evening theme will springboard from a favorite carol:  "God rest you merry, Gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, Remember Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day to save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray: O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy."   We'll focus on these tidings of comfort and joy.  I like comfort, don't you?  I'd rather have a merry heart than a broken one too.  Let's again together reflect on these Days with great anticipation that God is accomplishing a wondrous plan playing out before our eyes.
     Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!                     GLYSDI, PB

Tidings of Comfort and Joy
Dec. 3rd
Comfort and Joy in His Tender Announcement
Dec. 10th
Comfort and Joy in His Enduring Good Tidings
Dec. 17th
Comfort and Joy in His Power and Protection