Advent Themes and Symbols

Advent encompasses God’s story from the garden of Eden in Genesis to the establishment of the New Jerusalem in Revelation. Bobby Gross, author of Living the Christian Year, says this: “The biblical scope of Advent stretches from the garden in Genesis to the New Jerusalem in Revelation… In one sense, the whole of the Old Testament is text for Advent: the creation of the world and the fall of humankind, the choosing of one family to bless all families and one nation to bless all nations, the exodus of that nation from captivity, the giving of the law and settling of the land, the choosing of kings and building of a temple, the sins of the people and cries of the prophets, the exile in Babylon, and the return to live under Persians,... Read the article

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The Christian Calendar: Ordering our Days

Written by Eugene Guzon, Superintendent of Asia Have you ever noticed how easy it is for life to go unnoticed due to the busyness, noise, and clutter of each day? If we are not careful, we miss many opportunities to enjoy God’s presence and the deeper revelations of his glory. A couple of weeks ago I was driving up to the mountain city of Baguio in the Philippines and I pulled over to enjoy a particularly beautiful sunset. More recently, I watched the sunrise beyond the mountains of Yangon during a quiet, early morning flight to Myanmar. These two events reminded me of the faithfulness of God. He set the sun to rise and set every single day. It is because of the rising and setting of the sun that we have days— days that turn into... Read the article

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The Three “Comings” of Jesus

Advent: Jesus then, Jesus now, Jesus in the future Want to know a secret? I used to think Advent was all about Christmas, and the four common themes of Advent—Hope, Peace, Joy and Love—were symbols reminding us what Jesus brought to this world. While there is truth to what I used to believe, I have come to see that the season of Advent is much more. Advent is derived from Latin and means “to come” or “the coming.” It is a time of waiting with expectation, anticipation, longing and preparation. It reminds us the world yearns for deliverance—a deliverance provided only by the Messiah. It is a time to celebrate that light has come into a darkened world, that hope has arrived in the form of a child, that peace is in our future. ... Read the article

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Sermon for November 24, 2019

Readings: Jeremiah 23:1-6 • Luke 1:68-79 • Colossians 1:11-20 • Luke 23:33-43 This week’s theme is Christ the King.  Jeremiah 23:1-6 shares the prophecy of the King who will come and rule over Israel and Judah. In Luke 1:68-79, Zechariah prophesies over his son John the Baptist that he will herald the arrival of the true King. Colossians 1:11-20 tells of the King Jesus through whom all things – the earth and all the kingdoms in it – were created. Through him everything was created and through him all things will be reconciled. Luke 23:33-43, on which our sermon is based, tells about the servant King as he hangs on the cross, and even in that moment reaches out the thief next to him who asks to be remembered in the Kingdom. ... Read the article

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Sermon for November 17, 2019

Readings: Isaiah 65:17-25 • Isaiah 12:1-6 • 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 • Luke 21:5-19 This week’s theme is created for eternal relationship. The prophet Isaiah talks about our eternal relationship—a time of no dying or weeping or pain. The former things are not remembered. In chapter 12, Isaiah reminds Israel that God is our salvation; he comforts; he brings joy. In his letter to believers in Thessalonica, Paul gives details about how to live in that relationship. The sermon, from the passage in Luke, talks about how people get caught up in signs and the destruction of the temple, but these things aren’t what life is about. Life is about being in relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. All Shook Up Luke 21:5-19 NRSV This... Read the article

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Sermon for November 3, 2019

Readings: Isaiah 1:10-18 • Psalm 32:1-8 • 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12 • Luke 19:1-10 This week’s theme is the joy and transforming power of grace. The prophet Isaiah points out to the sinful people of Sodom and Gomorrah that God is not interested in burnt offerings; he is interested in seeing change—seeking justice, rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, taking care of the widow. He gives forgiveness, he wants us to let it change the way we live. The Psalmist talks about confessing our sins and living in the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness changes us. In Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica, he tells them he boasts about how their living in grace has increased their love for one another. The sermon focuses on the... Read the article

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A Reason for the Hope You Have

By Rick Shallenberger, Equipper Editor For most of my life I wasn’t sure how to deal with Peter’s admonition, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” The sad reality is no one asked me for the reason of my hope because I never gave them reason to ask. I didn’t talk about my hope, and people didn’t see that hope in me. Part of the reason is because my hope wasn’t on the right thing. Another reason was because I attended a church that believed and taught that sharing the gospel was the responsibility of only a few. As I grew in my faith, I was still not sure how to give a reason of the hope in me. I wasn’t sure how to explain my faith to others; I... Read the article

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What About Evangelism

By Bill Hall, National Director, Canada The seminar on Small Group ministry was nearing a close. The attendees had heard about having an “empty chair” at a small group meeting, creating a safe place for sharing and about the “life cycle” of a group. When I opened the floor for questions and comments, one person put his hand up and asked, “What about evangelism?” His question took me back several years. I was raised in a church that counted on media to bring in new people. My denomination had a television show and several publications that we believed were responsible for bringing most of the members to the various churches. I still recall the meeting with our leading pastors when we were told we would no longer be airing a... Read the article

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Faces of Faith

Do our lives inspire others to say, “I want what you have”? By Tim Sitterley, US Regional Director, West When I was an assistant pastor, one of my responsibilities was coordinating our worship services. This was early in the worship wars, and there was still a great deal of resistance to contemporary choruses and instrumentation other than just a piano. In an effort to establish more credibility to what we were doing each week, I invited the senior pastor to bring his guitar and join us. He argued that he only knew four chords well, but I pointed out that was one chord more than he needed to play most of the contemporary music of the day. I also assured him we probably wouldn’t patch his guitar into the sound system anyway, so he... Read the article

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