Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Boundary Breaking Stories from Union, #1

I've had Reality, Grief, Hope by Walter Brueggemann on my reading list for several months now.  I've had the copy out numerous time, even highlighting a few things in the first chapter.  It's been in my work bag for the last three weeks, in hopes that during some down time I'd be able to give it a shot.

It's ironic that the subtitle for the book is "Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks", because when I get the book out to read, reading it becomes anything but urgent.

There's this thing about working at Union Coffee that's unique compared to most United Methodist churches, outside of perhaps Wesley Foundations.  It's open to the public, 7am to 9pm (or 10) every day.  And my office is the shop itself.  There are quiet corners, sure, yet, every time I pick one of those corners, a couch or comfy chair, and get Bruggemann out, a neighbor asks me something.

And it's awesome.

Two of the major core values of Union Coffee are story telling and boundary breaking (the others are sanctuary, sustainability, quality, and generosity).  The picture above is of our most recent worship series ... Two short weeks to unpack the topic of privilege ... What we can do about it and what we can do with it.  This picture was out in the form of display cards on the tables of the shop.  Let me tell you, if you advertise a conversation on privilege, people are going to have things to say and stories to tell.

So, a story from last week that called me to check my privilege and marvel at the work God is doing in bringing this remarkable community together.

Last Sunday I got my book out an hour before it was time to flip the shop for worship.  I approached one of the corners near our stage with a couple of big couches.  I asked the man who would be sitting across from me if the seat was taken, and we proceeded to chat for an hour.  As I sat down, he asked me what the place was about, noticing our privilege cards on the table.  Things went on from there.

It was the first time he had ventured into Union.  His wife's nonprofit was meeting in one of our conference rooms and he was just hanging out.  Let's call him C, and his wife S.

I learned a lot about C during our conversation.  He's in the National Guard and just finished his history degree at UNT and is planning on shifting to a career in the army.  He'll be attending officers training school shortly.

He's also African American.  As is his wife.  He has a three-year-old daughter and another on the way this September.  He'll likely miss the birth of his second child due to a training deployment that he's being called to lead.

We talked a bit about the series on privilege that we were in.  We talked about the two weeks prior that Union spent sharing in a conversation on race and faith in the wake of the shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling, and the shootings of the DPD officers.

As we got deeper into things he shared with me a new truth in his life: he's afraid for his family, as a black American.

He said that he'd never, ever, felt this way.  This is an articulate, educated, soldier, mind you.  But, he's afraid for his family, when he looks at the current cultural divide in our country.

A couple of weeks prior to our meeting at Union, he and his wife had gone shopping at a nice little shop in Dallas.  He tried on a many things, putting back what he didn’t want (which is a gift to any sales associate).  He ended up purchasing over $200 in clothes by the end of things.  He was polite and respectful to the staff and had a great experience.  But, as he was leaving, he noticed a police officer pulling around the store.  C took note of it, but he and his wife got into their car and began to head home.  A few minutes later not one, but three, police cars pull him over.

Three police cars to pull over he and his wife.

The officer tells him that his turn signal is out and asks for his license and registration.  After running everything, the officer returns and C politely asks, “Why was I really pulled over?”

It turns out that the store accused C and S of shoplifting.  After a minute more, C and S were let off with a warning, the officer(s) knowing that it was a racially motivated report.  C didn't complain about the officers.  He said that they were respectful because he was respectful.  But ...

This would never happen to me, a white man.  It just wouldn’t.  If I had behaved and purchased as he had at any given store, there is no way the police would be called on me.

I thanked him for sharing his story.  I met his sweet wife just a few minutes later.  I’ve never heard a story like theirs told within the walls of another church.

I'm in a place, though, where I don't just hear those stories.  I am told them.  I'm checking my privilege. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Grace Like Fireworks

Sunday night we took our kids to see fireworks for the very first time.  In fact, it was the first time that my wife and I had been to see fireworks since before the birth of our son ... Some four-and-a-half years ago.

We set out, three hours before the show, ready to see the awe and wonder on our children's faces as they observed exploding showers of sparks and light.  After the wait, with tense moments, but also dancing, snow cones, and pretending our stroller was a rocket ship, the lights in the field went out and the show began.

I put my arm around my boy whose jaw dropped open at the first flare, while my wife held our girl who insisted over and over again that it was scary.

Neither kid took their eyes off  of the explosions in the night sky.

Fireworks like supernovas.  Fireworks like dandelions.
Vivid colors of magenta, blue, violet, red, green, white, and yellow.

We had no idea when we picked our spot in the ballpark complex that we would be mere yards from the launching pad.  I can't understate the nearness of the fireworks - they were literally just over our heads.

Yet, even then, even though we felt we might be able to stretch out our hands and feel the heat of the flames in the sky, there was something noticeable in the proceedings:

No matter the closeness, as each firework went off there was a clear delay from the explosion to the sound.

Whether it was the sound of dynamite.
Or the sound of a drizzle on pavement.
Or popcorn in a microwave.
There was a delay between the light and the noise.

Sometimes for nearly a second ... Astonishing.  The spreed of light and the speed of sound in stark, colorful, contrast.

And as I spent that hour huddled down with my family enjoying the festivities, I felt that I was learning something about grace.  There's something to be said about how God is moving to us, all around us, before we hear God's voice in our lives.  That God is within us, drawing us near to God, before we acknowledge God's presents.

That THE God, before we were knitted together in our mother's wombs, knew us - and still knows us.

What if it's the mission of us who follow the Son of God to call others to listen to the lightshow booming all around them?  And sit with them as they listen to the sound?

Grace like fireworks.
Every second.
Of every day.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Worship Series: The Hospitality of Jesus

This worship series is one of a set written from mid-Summer to the end of RCL Year C in November. Notes are sparse, but I'm hopeful that it's helpful to pastors during a season of the year that can be ... Dry.  Ordinary time, which we are in the midst of, can be a time of rich teaching and following specific narratives in the Bible.

This series follows the Gospel of Luke stream in the Revised Common Lectionary for six weeks, beginning on July10.  In each of the readings given, Jesus is answering questions, telling stories, demonstrating what the Kingdom of God is like and offering the welcome to that Kingdom that only Jesus can give.

Ask the question: what is the hospitality of Jesus like?
It should lead to another: do I (pastor and church) offer hospitality like Jesus in my life?

The Hospitality of Jesus

July 10  (Eighth Sunday After Pentecost) 

Sermon Title:  What must we do?
Scripture Lessons
    Primary: Luke 10:25-37
    Secondary: Col 1:1-14
    The Good Samaritan ... Jesus expects us to welcome the 'other.'

July 17  (Ninth Sunday After Pentecost) 

Sermon Title:  Listen and Learn
Scripture Lessons
    Primary: Luke 10:38-42
    Secondary:  Col 1:15-20
   Mary and Martha - are we just preparing to meet Jesus?  Or do we expect a visit to actually happen?

July 24  (Tenth Sunday After Pentecost) 

Sermon Title:  What are you asking for?
Scripture Lessons
    Primary:  Luke 11:1-13
    Secondary:  Col 2:6-9
    Jesus, himself teaches us to pray!  And reminds us that God is always available.

July 31  (Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost) 

Sermon Title:  True Abundance
Scripture Lessons
    Primary:  Luke 12:13-21
    Secondary: Psalm 107:1-9
   On building bigger barns ... Now, where do I store my treasure?

August 7  (Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost)

Sermon Title:  Always Ready
Scripture Lessons
   Primary:  Luke 12:32-40
   Secondary: Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23
   Are you ready to greet the Messiah?  Or do you cower in fear?
   Who does your heart belong to?

August 14  (Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost)

Sermon Title:  What Christ Offers
Scripture Lessons
   Primary:  Luke 12:49-56
   Secondary:  Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19
What does it actually mean for us to follow Christ?  It may not be pretty, but it’s worth it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Next Adventure

For the last three years, I have served as an associate pastor at an unbelievably gracious church - FUMC of Arlington, TX.  The church took a risk on me.  While I had a great resume in worship ministry and leadership, I hadn't preached a whole lot yet.  I was a young adult, passionate about young adult ministry, but I hadn't built a lot of small groups.  I loved Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but had no proven expertise in using them to reach new people for the kingdom.

So, why not make me a Pastor of Young Adults, Communications, and Modern Worship?

And, let's help me get my Master of Divinity at Perkins while we're at it.

This church has helped me to learn.  It's pushed me to grow.  It's critiqued me in life-giving ways.  It's helped me to fulfill God's calling on my life to be a pastor in the United Methodist Church.

Yet, and this is the definition of bittersweet, it's time for the next adventure in my ministry journey.  Two months or so ago, an opportunity to apply for a church planting residency fell into my lap.  Or, appeared in my Facebook feed, as things are wont to do these days.  I filed it away as something that would be awesome to do, but sounded hard to pull off.

But, then I get a text from my wife ... "Did you see that?"

And, as a person who often hears the Holy Spirit nudge me through my spouse, I messaged the pastor of the church sponsoring the residency, wondering if they'd take an application from somebody outside of their conference.  The response was that as long as I got the OK from my District Superintendent, absolutely.

I'm paraphrasing all of this, of course.

Well, one thing lead to another, and I'm now free to share some rather large news in the world of my family:

Beginning July 1, I will be a Path 1 Church Planting Resident at Union Coffee, an amazing UMC church plant across I-75 from SMU.  Union is indeed a coffee shop, called to reach the young people in the area, the unchurched, the dechurched, a generation that the church earnestly wants to reach, but often doesn't know how.  The coffee is delicious, the worship is quirky, the community is amazing.

I'll be pastoring at Union with the hope of aiding in their efforts to go multi-site and bring a branch to the Central Texas Conference the following year.  There aren't any promises in this; it's yet another risky ministry move.  But, in the Kingdom of God, as in many things, where there's no risk, there's no reward.

I'm beyond excited to accept a new role in ministry.  FUMCA has been family to me, but it's time to strain forward to the next step.  Thankfully, my wife, Leanne, will be able to keep going in her own ministry at another church in our current area.  My kids go to preschool there and we often worship there as a family.  In a way, we'll be building ourselves a new/old home church and keeping our home in Central Texas, where we're so looking forward to continuing our ministry.

Trusting in the providence of God has taken my family and I in so many amazing directions and we know that God will be with us, and our faith communities, through this next step and beyond.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

An Easter Season Worship Series: Revealing Revelation

For the last three Easter Seasons at FUMC of Arlington, we've studied the Book of Acts, focusing on the building of that first Christian community after the resurrection, leading to Pentecost.  The Book of Acts is an important book  for the church to study, as it chronicles the early problems, oppression, and successes of the early church and the apostles.

However, this year, Year C in the Revised Common Lectionary, the epistle reading was ... well ... too good to pass up.  In six weeks, which is rather quick, it takes us through the Book of Revelation.

Now, I know that many of the United Methodist variety might take to the famous perspective of Martin Luther ...

"I can discover no trace that it is established by the Holy Spirit."

Or, still others might pour over the details of the book, looking for prophecies of the end, trying and trying to apply the details to the world of today.

It's a provocative book.  It's imagery and literary content transcend the Christian faith.  So, we should talk about it.

At FUMCA, from April 3 until the Sunday before Pentecost, we will be.  Here's a breakdown of the series, for your use and perusal.  As always, post in the comments if you're taking this on!


Easter Season Worship Series:
Revealing Revelation

The Book of Revelation has been controversial since its inception.  Its vivid imagery, depictions of violence and empire, and cryptic allusions to the return of Christ have made it a book that is easy to misuse and misinterpret.

But, what if we took Revelation and refused to get caught up in picking apart its symbols … Trumpets … Dragons … Numbers … And read it as a letter to people, to churches, in trouble and losing their faith.  What if we took this book and realized it was from a servant of Christ to fellow servants of Christ that said this:

This is hard right now.
And it might get harder.
But hold on to Christ - 
God is with us.

This Easter Season we’ll take on the mysteries of the Book of Revelation, and wonder together of the life God calls us to as people of God in the world that longs for the Kingdom of God to break through.

April 3 - Revealing Revelation
Revelation 1:4-8
So ... Christ is coming again?

April 10 - Worthy is the Lamb
Revelation 5:11-14
What did Christ give himself for?

April 17 - Bigger than Us
Revelation 7:9-17
Do we, humans, prefer a limited offer of salvation?

April 24 - City of God
Revelation 21:1-6
Does God want to replace?  Or redeem?

May 1 - No More Night
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
What if it's really all about holding fast to Christ in the most difficult times?

May 8 - Benediction
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Can we stay thirsty for Christ's living water?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Our Lenten Worship Journey - The Path

Greetings to my brothers and sisters, worship planners and leaders, liturgy nerds and readers!  Lent is fast approaching ... It starts next week!  So, if it's helpful, I thought I would post the series we'll be going through at FUMCA.

This year, we're taking things on as a journey ... a hike ... a marathon ... Lent is a time of trial and perseverance that Christ calls us to and carries us through.  The series follows the Gospel stream of the RCL.  I've included, as always, scriptures, sermon titles, a description of the series for websites/worship guides, and a few ideas to start the sermon.

If you find it useful, please let me know in the comments!  An Easter Season Series is on the way1


Our 2016 Lenten Journey:
The Path

Welcome to The Path, FUMC of Arlington’s 40-Day Journey of Lent.  It is a time to accept the call to set aside more time than usual to cultivate our faith lives.  Where, in the end, we have deepened our relationship Christ, deepened our relationship with the church, and centered ourselves on the call God puts on each of our lives to be better, do better, love more.

At least, this is the hope and the goal.

The Christian life could be described as a marathon, a lifelong journey, of study, praise, and service.

It could also be described as a treacherous hike, where peaceful streams travel down into dangerous valleys.

We are called to exert effort in our life journey with Christ, in our personal journeys, and in the way we bring others along with us.  But, as always, when we jump into the race we have Christ as our trail guide, our coach, and ... our map, as the Word of God made flesh.

From our start on February 10, Ash Wednesday, to Easter Sunday on March 31, here is a vision of The Path:

  • February 10 - Ash Wednesday
    • Scriptures - Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
      • 2nd … All of them, but especially Psalm 51:1-17
    • Sermon Title - Before We Start, We Practice
      • Themes
        • Are there ‘Lent experts’?  Are there faith experts?
          • 10,000 hours
        • “Give me a clean heart”
  • February 14 - Lent One
    • Scriptures - Luke 4:1-13
      • 2nd - Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
        • The Lord delivers ...
    • Sermon Title:  The Starting Line
      • Themes
        • Jesus’ temptation …
          • Testing God?
        • Practice of fasting …
          • What’s holding us back in our relationship with Christ?  
          • What are we filling our bellies, minds, and hearts with that create barriers?
  • February 21 - Lent Two
    • Scriptures - Luke 13:31-35
      • 2nd - Phil 3:17-4:1
        • Citizenship of heaven, standing firm
    • Sermon Title - Getting off track
      • Themes
        • Jerusalem kills prophets?  Foreshadowing Palm Sunday.
        • Jesus’ (Son of God) desires to gather all children together
        • Perseverance
  • February 28 - Lent Three
    • Scriptures - Luke 13:1-9
      • 2nd - Isaiah 55:1-9
        • Come to the waters … My ways are higher ways.
    • Sermon Title - Traversing obstacles
      • Themes
        • A call for repentance
          • Yes, we do need to do it to follow Christ.
        • The practice of confession/repentance
        • When bad things happen …
          • Bad theology … Defining ‘God’ is hard.  We should, however, know ‘not God’.
  • March 6 - Lent Four
    • Scriptures - Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
      • 2nd - 2 Cor 5:16-21
        • New creation ...
    • Sermon Title - Don’t look back
      • Themes
        • Eating with sinners … Communion, anyone?
        • The Prodigal Son
          • God desires all to repent and return home.
          • The center of Luke’s story.
        • Practicing hospitality
  • March 13 - Lent Five
    • Scriptures - John 12:1-8
      • 2nd - Phil 3:4b-14
        • Press onward to the goal … Resurrection
    • Sermon Title:  Almost done, but not yet
      • Themes
        • Anointing at Bethany
          • For burial, but where is Christ going?
        • At the home of Resurrected Lazarus - a foreshadowing of Easter
        • Tie in to washing the disciples’ feet
        • Judas vs. Mary
          • Practicing generosity
  • March 20 - Lent Six: Palm Sunday
    • Scriptures - Luke 19:28-40
      • 2nd - Phil 2:5-11
    • Sermon Title - Not the finish line
      • Themes
        • The irony of Jerusalem's Welcome.
          • Back to the killing of prophets …
        • The Reality - Jesus is going to die, for our salvation.
          • Practicing self-sacrifice
        • Breaking down whatever At-One-Ment means.
      • Hope

Holy Week

  • March 24 - Holy Thursday
    • Scriptures - Luke 22:14-20
    • Sermon Title - Fuel for the Marathon
      • Themes
        • Jesus calls us to remember him in a meal - a meal that’s free to us, but comes at great cost to Christ
        • A symbol of sacrifice, that at the same time causes us to pause, rest, and give thanks
        • Communion is for the Community.
          • It binds us together, in the good and the bad, reminding us that we are equally given the grace of Christ.
  • March 25 - Good Friday
    • Scripture - John 18:1-19:42
    • Sermon Title - It is Finished
      • Themes
        • Don't be afraid to read the whole story, break it up throughout the service, and intersperse hymns and anthems.  This might be the only time all year that people read/hear the Passion Narrative at one time.
          • Reading the Gospel is much more than preaching it in this instance.
        • Christ did die to save us from our sins, our selves.
          • Do not shy away from this fact by bringing in a happy ending.  We need to wait for Easter for that.
        • I would recommend you conduct your worship in the traditional way and not have any kind of postlude or dismissal.  Directions can be in your worship guide, but the more abrupt the ending the better.
  • March 27 - Easter Sunday!
    • Scripture - John 20:1-18
      • Sermon Title - Love Wins
        • Themes
          • The Disciples had all of the information they needed, but still the doubted the Resurrection would happen.
          • Our lack of faith doesn’t determine the faith God has in us.
          • Love wins out for us, but it’s just the start of another journey.
The banner for the series is designed my super creative Director of Design at FUMCA, Mary Gibson.  Feel free to check out her work here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Advent 2015 Liturgy Resources!

Here are all of the resources for the previously posted Advent 2015 worship series:  From Heaven to Earth!

Advent/Christmas 2015 Liturgical Resources

From Heaven to Earth

  • Advent 1 - Nov 29
    • Sermon Title:  “The Day is Coming”
    • Scriptures: Jeremiah 33:14-16
      • 2nd - 1 Thess 3:9-13
    • Candle - Hope
    • Creed:  Nicene (880)
    • Lighting the Candle of Hope:
While the people of Israel lived in exile, God was still at work. The people of God cried out for God to intervene on their behalf, but still they had to wait.  God works in God’s own time, but ever calls us to place our hope and trust in God’s plan.  From heaven to earth, God did come to our rescue and even now, especially now, the Son of David is still with us.  May we, as God’s children continue to hope in the Lord, even as God calls us to wait!
Let the candle we light today help God’s hope to burn brightly in our hearts!
    • Call to Worship:
Eternal God, we are here!
We are ready and waiting to worship you this day!
Now is the time!
And we are God’s people!
    • Prayer of Confession:
Righteous God,
We do love you.  We do praise you.  But we don’t always trust you.  It is our failure to do so that leads us astray from your will again and again.  We let culture dictate the work of your church.  We are distracted by trivial things like decorations, extravagances, and pride.  All the while, your saving work in the world, of which we are gifted to be a part, remains unfinished.  We avoid the homeless.  We refuse to see the hungry.  We ignore the disabled.  Give us clear eyes, God, and open hearts.  Hearts that are so full of hope that we can’t help to pour out your never ending love over all of your children during this season of expectation.  We expect you to come near to us God today; may we be mindful of your expectations when we leave this sacred space.  Amen.
  • Advent 2 - Dec 6
    • Sermon Title:  People, Get Ready
    • Scriptures:  Luke 3:1-6
      • Malachi 3:1-4
    • Candle - Love
    • Lighting the Candle of Love:
From the wilderness, John the Baptist comes to us today. Will we listen?  His message is the same today as it was then: God is on the way.  Yet, even as John was preaching, our Lord Jesus was already walking with God’s people.  Jesus was already preparing to teach us the ways of God, to show us what sacrifice looks like, to demonstrate to us that nothing is greater than the love of God.  Hear the call of John today; let us prepare to meet Christ not just on Christmas, but right now.
Let the candle we light today help God’s love to burn brightly in our hearts!
    • Call to Worship:
Prepare the way of the Lord, you people!
May God’s path lead straight to our hearts.
God’s salvation is already ours.
We give thanks, this morning, and everyday, for the good news of God’s love for us!
    • Prayer of Confession:
Loving God,
What are we prepared to do this Advent Season?  We say that we watch for you.  We say that we wait for you.  But shouldn’t we be working for you while we watch and we wait?  The prophets to tell us to look around, that you are ever near to us.  We confess that in our waiting we grow anxious about the calendar.  We grow weary of all the planning.  We fail see where you tell us to look … To the ‘least of these.’  To our children that need care.  To the hungry that need food.  To the immigrant that needs our hospitality.  God, help us to go where you would go and be the people that you’ve called us to be, people who are loved into your service.  Pull us out of the wilderness and open our eyes, Lord.  Prepare us to greet you this Christmas by loving those that need you the most.  Amen.
  • Advent 3 - Dec 13
    • Sermon Title: “Filled With Expectation”
    • Scriptures: Luke 3:7-18
      • 2nd - Isaiah 12:2-6
    • Candle - Joy
    • Lighting the Candle of Joy:
The voice crying out from the wilderness, calling us to ‘Prepare the way of the Lord!’ is still calling out to us today.  John the Baptist reminded Israel of who God created them to be: a holy nation, a holy people that were supposed to be caretakers of one another.  He was bold in his cries of injustice around him and among God’s chosen people, and if he was here today he would still be calling us out.  This is a season of joy, as we remember the arrival of Jesus on Christmas day, may we be reminded that the transforming work of Jesus is to be alive in us as his church.
Let the candle we light today help God’s joy to burn brightly in our hearts!
    • Call to Worship:
Call us out, God!
You are the reason for our worship today!
Call us out, God!
Draw us into your presence!
Call us out, God!
Have mercy on us, who joyfully wait for you.
    • Prayer of Confession:
Merciful God,
We confess this day that we, your people, don’t like to be told what to do.  We desire independence, to be individuals, choosing our own paths and making life all about ourselves.  We want our will more than your will for our lives.  But, this isn’t what we need.  We need to seek your ways, above all others.  We need to see what you see.  We need to cry out for justice where there is none, in a time when gathering more and more ‘stuff’ unto ourselves is the at heart of our Christmas culture.  Lord, call us to repentance again.  As we get ready to meet the Christ Child on Christmas day, make us more mindful of the unclothed, of the hungry, of the very poor.  Remind us that we are not alone, that we are all in this together.  Your kingdom come, amen.
  • Advent 4 - Dec 20
    • Sermon Title: “We Are Blessed”
    • Scriptures: Luke 1:39-55
      • 2nd - Micah 5:2-5a
    • Candle - Peace
    • Lighting the Candle of Peace:
The hope of the world came down to us at Christmas, but in order for that to happen a mother had to say “Yes.”  When Mary accepts the blessings and the hardships that would come with being the mother of Jesus, she changed the world forever.  When Mary sings her song, she recognizes something wonderful and totally opposite to how the world works: God came into the world through a family among the very poor.  Through Jesus’ birth, God sends a challenge to all of us to seek God’s movement in unexpected ways, and show God’s hope wherever we are.
Let the candle we light today help God’s peace to burn brightly in our hearts!
    • Call to Worship:
Are you all blessed?
Yes, we are!
Does God favor you?
Yes, God does!
God heard our cries for mercy.
And God sent us Jesus!
    • Prayer of Confession:
Holy God,
We are getting ready for Christmas.  Presents are being put under trees.  Dinner menus are being planned.  Last minute errands are being run.  Traveling has begun.  As we get wrapped up in this season of Christmas, we often forget what truly matters.  In all of our dealings with presents, we forget to be present for one another, especially those outside of the circle that we call ‘family.’  In our focus on things, we forget that the best gift many of us can truly share in the gift of our time.  Time for conversation.  Time for service.  Time for worship.  God, as Mary sings her song rooted in eternal hope in your mercy, may we share mercy where we can, when we can, in the many ways we can, sharing the love of God incarnate that Jesus Christ brought to us.  Amen.
  • Christmas Eve - Dec 24
    • Sermon Title: “From Heaven to Earth”
    • Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
    • Candle - Christ
    • Lighting the Christ Candle:
As we light the Christ Candle, we remember that long ago heaven met earth with the birth of Jesus Christ.  We called on the Lord for salvation, and not only did the Lord bring it, the Lord Our God appeared to us as a baby.  A baby to be loved and nurtured in a human family.  A baby Messiah that would grow up to preach the good news that all are welcome and loved in the Kingdom of God.  Today, we welcome Jesus Christ!
Welcome to you, Lord Jesus!  May this light remind us of the hope, peace, love, and joy that can only be found in you!
    • Call to Worship:
Let heaven and nature sing -
Joy to the world!
Oh come, all ye faithful –
Joyful and triumphant!
The herald angels sing –
Glory to God!
Jesus is here!
Jesus is here!
    • A Christmas Prayer:
God, we welcome you here.  We have been waiting for you, anticipating your arrival, expecting you to visit us today.  We need you God, and we are so grateful that you love us so much that you came to us in the form of a child.  You place so much trust in us, even trusting a humble family to raise your own son.  On top of that, you gift us with care over one another.  Yes, it’s a care that we often fail to give.  Thanks be to you God that no matter how often we forget to take care of each other, to love each other as you love us, your forgiveness knows no end.  Forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love that became incarnate in Jesus Christ.   Welcome to the world, Lord Jesus.  May singing your songs, sharing in your gifts, and looking to your earthly life bring heaven closer to us this Christmas.  Amen.  

  • Sunday After Christmas - Dec 27
    • Sermon Title: “Love Came Down at Christmas”
    • Scriptures - Colossians 3:12-17
      • 2nd - Psalm 148
    • Call to Worship:
Merry Christmas, church!
And a merry Christmas to you!
The season is not yet over, there’s still time to celebrate the birth of Christ.
How can we celebrate today?
By sharing in the true gift Christ has given to us …
Love for all the world.
    • Prayer of Praise:
Jesus Christ,
We give you the glory this morning!  Where would we be without you?  Who would we be without your saving love?  As your family, we give you thanks.  For the journey you took to bring us hope, coming to us as but a little baby, we stand in awe of you - Emmanuel, God With Us.  You are the one for whom the angels sang, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all people!”  We remember you today, humble Lord Jesus.  Let us not forget to share with others the hope, peace, love, joy, and community that we have come to find in you.  Amen!
  • Epiphany Sunday - January 3
    • Sermon Title: “Searching for Jesus”
    • Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-12
      • 2nd - Psalm 72:1-7
    • Call to Worship:
From near and far, we come together in worship.
We have come here to meet Jesus!
What gift do you bring to the Lord this morning?
All honor, glory, and praise!
    • Prayer of Praise:
Lord Jesus,

As the wise men who traveled so far to meet you, we give you thanks for the glory you reveal among us.  When the world needed a savior, in your great wisdom, you chose to come down to us in humility of a stable, to be raised by those who would be looked past by those around them.  We don’t have gifts to offer you that could even start to measure up to what you have given to us in your saving life.  Take all that we have and make it yours, call our lives to light the darkness of this world with your everlasting light.  Amen.