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An upside-down Christmas

Commentary
The Christmas holiday is so beautiful, so central to our faith, with lights shining in the darkness and the focus on an infant, that it might seem sacrilegious to drag in politics. But these are political texts. King Ahaz put his trust in a political alliance that ended badly, with his Assyrian allies turning on him, biting off pieces of the northern kingdom until at last it was no more. Luke tells us about Augustus Caesar -- who the poet Virgil insisted was descended from a god, whose kingdom was foretold of old, was the Savior of the World, and the Prince of Peace.
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29 – Sermons
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Advent 4
32 – Sermons
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New & Featured This Week

CSSPlus

John Jamison
Object: A video camera. One on your phone is just fine.

Hello, everyone! (Let them respond.) Are you ready for our story? (Let them respond.) Awesome! Let’s go!

We have talked about a guy before whose name was John the Baptist. Who remembers and can tell me who John the Baptist was? (Let them respond.) He was the man God chose to tell everyone about Jesus coming to help them, wasn’t he? (Let them respond.) Well, one day, John the Baptist had a big problem.

StoryShare

Peter Andrew Smith
“Hey Bill.” Jim made his way through the departing crowd and stuck out his hand. “Great meeting.”

“Yeah, it was a great meeting.” Bill smiled and shook the other man’s hand. “Thanks for being a part of it. I remember when I mentioned the 12-step program, you were doubtful.”

“You made a believer out of me.” Jim smiled back. “ I didn’t want to admit how much of a problem I had but you refused to accept my excuses and refused to give up on me. You changed my life.”

Emphasis Preaching Journal

David Kalas
Much of the music that accompanies this season of the year emphasizes sights. Classic Christmas season songs like “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” and “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” celebrate so many of the sights that traditionally accompany this time of year. And it is, to be sure, a feast for the eyes, with the snow, the lights, and so many decorations in houses, yards, streets, and stores. It is small wonder, therefore, that children are filled with excitement by this season.
Mark Ellingsen
Bill Thomas
Frank Ramirez
Bonnie Bates
Isaiah 35:1-10

The Village Shepherd

Janice B. Scott
Call to Worship:
Jesus told the people to report what they saw; that the blind were receiving their sight, the lame were walking, the deaf were hearing and poor were hearing good news. In our worship today, let us explore whether that is still true in our society today.
Invitation to Confession:
Jesus, sometimes I don't expect much from Christianity.
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, sometimes I'm more comfortable when I don't expect very much.
Christ, have mercy.
Jesus, sometimes I'm afraid of being disappointed.

SermonStudio

Charles L. Aaron, Jr.
How different things must have looked for John behind prison walls. If ever the word "free spirit" applied to anyone, it applied to John. He said what he wanted to say, without holding back. If the scholars are correct that he was an Essene, then he had gone into the wilderness specifically to get away from everyone. The Essenes wanted to worship their way, with no interference from anyone. Now, those prison walls confined John.

John N. Brittain
"Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" It's not just children of a certain age who ask that question, although they certainly do. I've been on a number of trips in the past few years with delayed flights, missed connections, and lost luggage, where I've been the one asking the question.
Tony S. Everett
Our text centers on God's promised action in the wilderness. Have you ever seen photographs of the wilderness areas in the land of the Bible; for example today's Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Iran? The wilderness is a rocky, dry, and barren space. In the same day, temperatures may vary from a blazing 100 degrees Fahrenheit to nearly freezing. Food and water are scarce. Wild beasts and even bandits prowl around seeking to devour unsuspecting travelers. The wilderness can be a very scary and lonely space.
Beverly S. Bailey
Hymns
Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming (UM216, PH48, NCH211, NCH127)
Cold December Flies Away (UM233)
I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath (UM60, PH253, NCH166)
Psalter 146 (UM858, PH254)
My Soul Gives Glory To My God (UM198, PH600, CBH119)
Prepare The Way, O Zion (PH13)
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus (UM196, PH1, NCH178, CBH122)
O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing (CBH110, PH466, NCH110, CBH42)
Santo, Santo, Santo (CBH400, NCH400, UM65)

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