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Getting Out the WORD - the fourth sunday of advent
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 21 December 2011 15:00

the PRAYER. . .

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.  With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy, that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

the READING. . .

And [the angel Gabriel] came to [Mary] and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. . .  Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end..."                  (Luke 1:26-38)

the DEVOTION. . .


Apparently, according to the latest reports, there's a war going on!  A war against Christmas!  People saying, "Happy Holidays!" and "Season's Greetings!" instead of "Merry Christmas!"  Manger scenes no longer allowed on courthouse lawns!  "Holiday" trees replacing the good old "Christmas" kind!  All part, as I understand, of a conspiracy to get rid of Christmas - REAL Christmas - in America.  (Kinda ironic, though, that the descendants of the Puritans are trying as hard as they are to preserve the very thing their ancestors fought to eliminate!  But, I digress.)  Anyway, it all reminds me of that one-liner that makes it on so many church signs this time of year.  "Xmas is Christmas without Christ!"  However. . .

 

"X" is the twenty-second letter of the Greek alphabet and the first letter - the "Ch" - in the title 'Christ'!  Instead of a way to eliminate Christ, it's a way of abbreviating it!  Like the way we often end emails!  Instead of typing out full names, we simply put initials!  Xmas is the same.  It's still Christmas, only without the "r," "i," "s," and "t"!

 

But, one other thing.  The letter 'X' is, also, one of the ways we make a cross!  Signing something with the letter 'X' meant not only that you couldn't write.  But it showed you were a Christian!  You made the mark of the cross!  So, Xmas isn't Christmas without Christ.  It's "Ch"-mas WITH the cross!  And what better way to celebrate the birth of a savior. . .  of a savior who came to suffer. . .  to break. . .  and to bleed. . .  and to die. . .  not just for us, but for all creation! Merry Xmas to y'all. . . and to y'all a good Night!

bob barndt, pastor
 
Getting Out the WORD - the third sunday of advent
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:45

the PRAYER. . .

Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the words of your prophets, that, anointed by your Spirit, we may testify to your light; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

the READING. . .

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"  He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah."  And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No."  Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"  He said,
"I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord. . . .'"                 (John 1:6-8, John1:19-28)

the DEVOTION. . .

Well,the night before last, I, finally, heard it. . .  first time this year. . .  It was in a commercial. . .  on television. . .


"Jesus is the reason for the season!"

 

Nothing personal, but it's one of those holiday decorations that. . .  well. . .  tends to make me cringe. At first, I thought it was because it's become such a cliche. . .  all glitter, but no substance.  Then, I thought, maybe it's because it's all around us!  Radio!  Television!  Newpapers!  Cards!  Billboards! And, now, even, texts and tweets!  I understand what it's trying to say. . .  about Santa Claus. . . Frosty. . .  Rudolph. . .  and all the rest. . .  But, I think, what really bothers me about it is that Jesus really, truly ISN'T the reason for the season. . .  WE ARE!

 

The only reason there's a Christmas to begin with is because god loves US!  Think about it. . .  god loves US!  Every, single one of US!  Loves US so much that god leaves heaven!  That god comes to earth!  Simply to be where WE are!  Beside us!  Behind us!  Between us!  Rescuing!  Redeeming!  And, this week, the baptizer crys out, "Make the way straight!"  Not so we can get to god!  To the manger!  To heaven!  But so god. . .  so god. . .  can get to US!  No!  Jesus isn't the reason. . .  the foundation. . .  for all of this.  When you get right down to it. . .  WE ARE!

bob barndt, pastor

 
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