February 2 – 8, 2020

“Blessed are the poor in spirit…”. What a powerful way to start the Sermon on the Mount. But what does it mean to be poor in spirit? It means to recognize our complete and utter reliance for Jesus in all things. It means to realize we truly are lost and broken….so lost and broken that without the Spirit’s prompting, we would never even be able to know that we are in fact lost and broken. It is to hunger only for the approval of the true King of the world…and not the would be kings and queens.

To be poor in spirit is to keep our eyes focused on the Crucified Christ…and that changes our fundamental view of the world. It changes our definition of success, of right and wrong, of power, and of the meaning of life itself.

Brothers and Sisters, I pray that each and every day that we all slowly strive to learn to let go of our need for success…our need to be right…our need for power…and learn to rely solely upon Jesus. It is a tough task…but we do it together. Side by side…each Sunday as we hear God’s word, as we confess our sins together, as we share God’s Peace, and as we kneel together, side by side, at the Altar. It is there that Christ meets us and fills our needs and voids. It is there that we truly learn what it means to be poor in spirit.

December 29 – January 5

I pray that each of you had a blessed and peaceful Christmas! I couldn’t think of a better way to start this wonderful season than the beautiful service we celebrated together on Christmas Eve. I was especially happy for all of the help the youth of Christ Church provided. From reading the Gospel to helping usher and light candles, it was awesome to have them involved in our service. We can all hope that Deacon Preston’s huge stocking he showed the kids was filled up with something besides coal on Christmas morning…we will have to ask Denise for details.

As we moved towards the close of the Christmas season we come to the Season of the Epiphany. As you know, Christmas is a 12 day season, ending on the 5th….sometimes called the Twelfth Night. The Twelfth Night has traditionally be celebrated with revelry, fanfare, fun and games, and King Cakes. I think, more than ever, its important for us to celebrate and remember this old tradition. With “Christmas Mania” taking over society at large, its easy to get a little gloomy after the big day is over. We rush and rush and buy presents and then in a matter of 20 mins they are all open…leaving us wanting more. The Christian celebration of the Twelfth Night is a reminder that we worship the Immanuel, the God With Us…so we have reason to celebrate and that celebration lasts more than a single day!

I hope all of you will join us on January 5th as we celebrate the Epiphany. In the words of an astute scholar, “Let’s Party On!”

December 8 – 14, 2019

The 2nd and 3rd week of Advent are all about John the Baptist, such a unique and interesting character. Although many of us know and love John the Baptist from a lifetime in the church, i would imagine that if we were to run into him in person then most of us would be quite shocked and uncomfortable. Imagine if a loud and uncouth man covered in animal skins came bursting through our church doors on a Sunday morning….imagine that man yelling at us and telling us to “REPENT” as he munched on some bugs and wild honey. I would imagine that most of us would think he was a loon or a madman.

And yet….that is just the kind of person God uses to announce his coming kingdom. John’s mission and vision are razor honed in on two thing….the coming of God’s kingdom and our need to repent. John cant be bought, bullied, or convinced to tone things down a bit. His eyes are squarely focused on God and what his kingdom was doing.

As we move through this Advent Season, I pray we can achieve even a bit of John’s focus and zeal for the coming of Gods kingdom!

As a reminder, Melissa and I will be out of town this coming weekend celebrating our anniversary. Preston will be leading the service this Sunday. Thanks to him for giving me a day off!

December 1 – 7, 2019

Oh Come….Oh Come Emmanuel….. Such a powerful and haunting song for the season of Advent. The Season of Advent is both beautiful, contemplative, and mournful. It is a season of dualities as well. We remember, prepare for, and contemplate the fact that God really did once come to us a baby in a manger on the first Christmas morning….but we also take time to recognize the world is not as it should be and we can only pray for God to once again come to us. Fleming Rutledge gave her book on Advent the subtitle: “The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ.” We remember that he did come over 2 thousand years ago…and we also pray for the day in which he will come again.

As we move through this season of Advent, may we find solidarity with the Ancient Israelites who, as they were oppressed by the Romans, longed and prayed for a day when God would show up and establish his Kingdom here on Earth. We too can look to the poor and oppressed around us here today, and pray alongside them the great prayer of Advent, “Come Lord Jesus!”

November 24 – 30, 2019

Well, before we even know it Advent is upon us! Advent is a time full of expectations and excitement as we wait for the coming of the King as a baby in a humble manger! We get to join the ancient Israelites in their longing and expectation of a coming messiah to rescue and save their people. People often talk about a “war on Christmas” in our culture, but in truth its really a War on Advent. Even if they don’t actively worship in a church, people love Christmas. Ask them to take sometime of thoughtful expectation however and you wont find the same amount of excitement. The Church uses this time for quiet contemplation as we think about the implications this strange baby king will have for us.

Thanks to Deacon Preston for taking the sermon this coming Sunday. I am excited to hear what he has to say to us as we enter into this Advent Season. I’m especially thankful because I am away with family this week and have some time to unwind and relax. I wish all of you a Happy Church New Years and a blessed Advent season!

November 10 – 16, 2019

Last week’s lesson was all about the Resurrection. Those in power always fear the resurrection because it takes away the sting of their greatest weapon, death. To live as resurrection people is to be unafraid of pain, suffering, and even death. In short, faith in the resurrection means that we can be free to be unafraid to lose.

To understand the power of resurrection, we must not forget the power of the cross. We are to be cruciform people, shaped by obedience to Christ and his command to take up our crosses and follow him. That is why Paul tells the Phillipians, “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his suffering, cecoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Father Stephen Freeman once noted that the whole history of the church, its path through time, has been a manifestation of the Cross. The occasional “triumphs” of the church measured in earthly standards come most often in the times when the church is most compromised and unfaithful to the Gospel.

What does that mean for us at Christ Church? Well, to start, we must remember that we are called to obedience and not necessarily effectiveness. It’s easy to get discouraged when a program we employ or a new idea we try out doesn’t appear to bear fruits. I, as much as anyone else, know the feeling of disappoint when something doesn’t work out. Even in our failures, we can have confidence that our Lord knows the same feeling of rejection and apparent failure. Because of this, we can be unafraid of failure which gives us strength to preach the Gospel even if we are rejected or persecuted for doing so. As long as we are obedient to Christ, who knows what fruit we might bear even in unexpected ways! We can be confident that, as resurrection people, we can carry our crosses in quiet confidence that our Lord carries his own beside us…and that is an encouraging thought.

Kyrios Christos, Deacon Dave