LUKE 6:38 (NIV) A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
As I look back on 2019 and think about the past year I realize that the best gift I have to give others is my relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship that defines my joy and my sorrows, my peace and upheaval, my understanding that we have been given new life as well as the love that only comes from God. I say this because as I think about those who have lifted me up this past year, those that have blessed my life are the ones who were willing to share their life with me. They shared their relationship with Jesus, their struggles and achievements, questions and frustrations. I believe as we share with each other our own journey we give of ourselves and that is the best gift going. Thank you.
As we say good bye to 2019 may we welcome 2020 committed to a deeper relationship with God and the desire to grow together in Christ. Merry Christmas and a safe and a safe and happy new year. Hope to see you later this morning.
Almighty God , my Lord and Savior Jesus, as the old year passes and a new year will soon take place I once again come before you seeking a better relationship. Father, I know the snows will come and go, flowers will again bloom and fade away. We will have hot days and cold days, raining and dry and they will be according to your order and time. Lord, help me accept that I do not have control over life but only how I live my life. May it be one glorifying your name above all others; may I give you all honor and glory; may my tongue be tamed and my temper be dormant. As I travel with my daughter through cancer this upcoming year may our faith be prevalent at all times. I ask you Lord, to bring about a positive outcome and bless her with your healing. Lord I pray for my families of faith and blood. May we all prosper in faith this coming year. Lord forgive me of my sins as I seek You in prayer through your Son Jesus. Amen
Deuteronomy 30:19–20a 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
God makes it very clear that we need to choose life. As I grow I am becoming more aware that every moment I breath I must make the choice between life and death, Joy and sadness; my Savior or the world. One choice brings about a death, a heart which something is dying. Whereas choosing life is living in joy where the heart is open to something new being born.
As I grow deeper into my faith relationship the understanding that this life is about making choices to be with God or away from God becomes more evident. There will be mood swings, there will be moments that I can not control but within each moment we have the choice to choose life or death. The more I have let emotions be; the more I am able to bring a joy into each situation. Reality is that God has allowed both life and death, blessing and curses and we must choose what we will focus on.
As we prepare ourselves once again to meet the Christ child may we recommit ourselves to be focused on His teachings and love that brings life. I look forward to seeing you later this morning.
Almighty God, may all honor and glory be yours this day. Father, I pray for Your church here today. I pray for the people, both far and near. Lord bless us and help us on our journey. May we listen to Your voice in this noisy world. Lord, I pray that in the year that lies ahead we will see growth spiritually. Lead us oh King. Father, I seek forgiveness of my sins, I seek restoration and peace both for myself, this church, this nation and the world around me. I pray this in your Son's Holiest of names, Amen.
Luke 1:39-55 39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43 Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
46 Mary said,
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord! 47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored 49 because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name.
50 He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God.
51He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.
54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy,
55 just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever".
In the time of Jesus women were second-or third class citizens. In this story we find Mary pregnant, without a husband needing her cousins support and joyfulness as she journeyed what would have taken 8-10 days. As Mary sang the song above how God lifts up the lowly, she was a living example of that. She exalted in God's reversal of human values. "he has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly." Verse 52. Even before the birth God was turning things around to see His love and how He valued her, no matter what her social status was.
From the moment Jesus was conceived He changed the lives of those who chose to call Him Lord. Elizabeth was the first and then throughout the gospels it said women were the first witnesses proclaiming Jesus's resurrection. As I read the passage above it brought questions to my mind: How does me calling Jesus "Lord" mean giving up the right to live my life any way I please? In what ways has Jesus' lordship changed my life, brining with it joy, hope ,peace and a deeper knowledge of love.
I believe Mary knew that the King she bore would change realities that had always seemed to rule the day. As we prepare for the coming of our King how willing are you to join in Mary's and those who call Him Lord joy and commitment to God's purpose to lift up the lowly; to fill the hungry with good things? Let this Advent season be a time of change and let us be a people of compassion.
Lord God, A simple girl is used to change the world through Your Son. She reminds me Father, that I have, as all do, a purpose and You will lift us up. Lord, I pray for my family at this time. I give you thanks for the blessings I have all around me and I ask that I continue to see these blessings during every moment of my life. Father, I have chosen to call you Lord of my Lord. Lift me up and carry me through. Forgive me my sins this day I pray. Lord, I pray and ask all things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
67 John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
68 “Bless the Lord God of Israel
because he has come to help and has delivered his people.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house,
70 just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago.
71 He has brought salvation from our enemies
and from the power of all those who hate us.
72 He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and remembered his holy covenant,
73 the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham.
He has granted 74 that we would be rescued from the power of our enemies so that we could serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live.
76 You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
77 You will tell his people how to be saved through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide us on the path of peace.”
80 The child grew up, becoming strong in character. He was in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
Take a moment and read the passage again before you proceed: I find it fascinating, amazing that when John the Baptist was born that his father's song of praise, of rejoicing did not first acclaim his own son, but the one who would follow. Who John would prepare the way for. Having become a grandfather again this passage reminded me in my life today that my role for my grandson is to prepare his way to our Lord. To teach him the good news, to lead him by the way I live my life, the words I speak, the expressions upon my face, my actions during trials.
Like John, each of us are given the responsibility to prepare the way for God to enter our children's and grandchildren's lives. Heck, we are called to prepare the way for neighbors, friends and enemies to come and reconnect with God; for God to enter this world as he did years before. In the passage above can you read where our responsibilities lie as they did for John? How can we teach that it was in this moment of history that God's promise of a deliverer to make a broken world new...happened. It is in this advent story and others that can nourish and sustain our trust in God's big promises today.
I cringe when I listen to so many people proclaim we live in a broken world, a dark world, an ugly world. Like John, we have a choice to emphasize this thought or lead people to view the world differently. One of hope and promises to come. One of majestic beauty and love that goes beyond sight. As we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in this Christmas season think about what you are proclaiming fro the world to see. Embrace Jesus' love where you are at today. I hope ot see you later this morning, pastor Carl
Prayer: Almighty Lord God, sometimes I’m like the man who prayed, “God, give me patience—and do it right now!” Help Zechariah’s song to remind me that, in the end, you always keep your promises, and that those moments are worth waiting for and worth proclaiming. Father, give me the strength to endure the race; to teach repentance; to teach love, mercy and hope. Lord, forgive me my sins. Lord I pray for the church here in Orrington, I pray for my families, friends, neighbors and enemies that they too may come ot know your love. Father, help me as I prepare my heart for the birth, new birth of Your Son in my life. Lord, I pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.
46 Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
49 because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
50 He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy,
55 just as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”
This morning we gather and begin the Advent season of preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus. Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. Today's church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis, they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the Church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.
Advent is a season of Hope, praying without ceasing, a time of silence in a noisy world. Advent is a reminder that God is calling us like He called Mary. Mary was the bearer of Hope, peace, joy and a love deeper than we can understand. We too are now called out in the craziness of life to stand tall and with all our heart, Glorify the Lord!
May this Advent season bring a change to your life, a new commitment and powerful reminder of what God calls Holy. I am in great hopes that we will see other later this morning.
Prayer: My God, Lord Jesus, teach me how to keep my mind and heart open to your more challenging blessings. Give me the wisdom to share what I have, not to hoard it just for myself. I ask for this wisdom through your Son Jesus, Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006