“…he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him.”

          This Sunday’s message is from Matthew 3:1-17, the Baptism of Jesus by John.  In this event in Christ’s life, we see the presence of each member of the Holy Trinity.  The Son comes up from the water, the Father speaks from Heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends as a dove. 
          The Holy Spirit is always moving, active, and present.  In the opening pages of the Bible the Holy Spirit is moving on the waters, the dove is released from the Ark by Noah, and the Spirit “comes upon” people in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, Jesus is compelled into the wilderness by the Spirit, the Spirit is like the wind that blows, a rushing wind on the day of Pentecost, and dancing tongues of fire on those present in the Upper Room. 
         The Holy Spirit is active.  How is the Spirit active in your life?  We often get confused by those that see any activity of the Spirit as an ecstatic experience with obvious manifestations.  But that is not the way for us to see the activity of the Spirit. 
         I read an account of a young man that wrote in his blog, “How I did not kill myself yesterday.”  He described the depressions, sense of hopelessness, and emptiness he was experiencing during the Christmas season.  He felt he had no one else to turn to and was about to hurt himself, when he called the Suicide Prevention Hotline.  The counselor there helped him to put things into perspective.  He soon realized there was hope, there was a tomorrow. 
          The article I read was written by his pastor and she noted that it was the Holy Spirit descending and using the counselor to bring hope to the young man.  It made me wonder about how many times I had not been open to the Spirit.  How many times had I not allowed the Holy Spirit to descend upon me so that I could be the tool of God building up that other person?
          For 2023, I want to be more aware of the times God the Holy Spirit is moving me so that I can be a blessing to others.  
Pastor Greg

Happy New Year!!

Matthew 1:1-17
The God of History

New Year’s Day sermon will be from a text that is rarely preached.  The genealogy from Abraham to David to Joseph.  There are many fascinating parts of this genealogy, but the big picture is the working of God in the lives of historical men and women.

Of the four Gospels, Matthew is seen as the continuation of the Old Testament.  This Gospel is showing the Jews that Jesus is the promised Messiah.  And this genealogy shows the two most important people for the covenant or promises of God, Abraham and David. 

Matthew is the Gospel for 2023.  Matthew wants us to see that the plan of God is working in time and history.  Matthew shows us that the Messiah is not some fanciful legend, the Messiah is a real person, and he deals with the real situations of our lives.

The sermons will take Matthew in the order they are presented, and not the retelling of the story of the Church Year as other lectionaries do.  We will look at this One that is the fulfillment of the promises God has made with Abraham and David.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

Luke 2:1-20

The Humiliation of God

The texts for this year’s Advent and Christmas have show the movement of God.  The movement of God in the work of redemption is a downward movement.  Paul uses, what many think is a hymn from the early church to describe this movement.  In Philippians 2 we see the gift of the Redeemer:

Christ Jesus,
who, though he existed in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be grasped,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    assuming human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

This was done to thoroughly un-impress the mighty, the powerful, the top of society, they mocked him as a “son of a carpenter” and someone from Nazareth (Hicksville).  But the low in society, the cast off, the forgotten masses of the unwashed is where the Good News is proclaimed. 

Pride is often our biggest block is speaking the good news of Jesus.  We don’t want those we are trying to impress to associate us with “those people.”  In the Advent of the Savior of the world, God eradicates all forms of human pretentiousness and self-importance.  Even the “kings from the east” must come into a humble house and bow down before a peasant girl and her baby. 

The angels were not wrong, this is the way to glory, this is the demonstration of the glory of God in the Highest and the way of peace for all peoples. 

Paul continues:

Therefore God exalted him even more highly
    and gave him the name
    that is above every other name,
10 so that at the name given to Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

The call for us at Christmas is to humble ourselves so that we can be with the rough and smelly shepherds bowing in the dung of a cattle stall.  Then we will see the glory of God coming in the perfect gift of love.

Church on the Square

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Thank you Tony Roberson for this awesome video.