Psalm 139: 14 ‘I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’
Have you ever played hide and seek with a young child and their idea of hiding is obviously crawling under a table and closing their eyes? If they can’t see you, they think you can’t see them. But, of course, you are there, knowing exactly where they are. The Bible talks about God as all-knowing, one who created and loves each one of us, and who we can’t hide from. There is no where we can go that God is not already present.
There is something reassuring about knowing we are never truly alone, especially in these challenging days. To be known and loved gives us the strength to not only carry on, but to thrive and help others to do the same. Thanks be to God.
As we stay safe during the current lockdown, Knox Presbyterian Church will offer ONLINE worship services only in the coming weeks. We will continue our new series this week called “God is Holding Your Life: A Journey of Assurance for a New Year”.
“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…” Genesis 1:1
When was the last time you were in awe of something? Awe is that feeling we have when something leaves us amazed, stunned, or speechless. Maybe, it was at the beauty of nature. There was an evening sunset a month or so ago that many people across the region posted images of on Instagram and Facebook afterwards. We can’t help but be astonished, even when we’ve seen it before, by the beauty of the colours across the sky.
For Christians, the wonder of creation is attributed to God, the Creator. There is an overwhelming sense that God is present in all that gives us that sense of awe and wonder, and we can’t help but be thankful. In these colder, darker days of winter, I invite you to see glimmers of light and to be amazed by the beauty that is still all around us.
As we continue to stay safe and pray for an end to the pandemic, Knox Presbyterian Church will offer ONLINE worship services only in the coming weeks. We will begin a new series this week called “God is Holding Your Life: A Journey of Assurance for a New Year”.
Matthew 2: 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
The story of the three wisemen following a star in search of a new king, usually gets included in the celebration of Christmas. The Bible describes their journey as happening some time after the birth of Jesus. One can’t help but wonder who these three travelers were and why they left their homeland in search of a king…in search of a saviour.
What kind of saviour did they expect to find? I think that’s a relevant question for us too. What kind of saviour do we expect Jesus to be? Someone to take control and fix all that’s wrong with the world or someone to lead us with authority into a better future or someone strong and powerful; these might be the things we think of when we think of a saviour. But, when Jesus came as a Saviour, he was an example of strength in weakness, compassion for the vulnerable, and justice for all. Being ‘saved’ means living out those same values and believing that Jesus is the kind the Saviour we need today.
“At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2: 38
Our series “I Believe Even When: Fill the Night with Music and Light” comes to a close this week. We have enjoyed an anthem and carols by our virtual choir, we’ve been inspired by documentaries that showcased the power of music, and we’ve acquired a new appreciation of the hymns of our faith.
This week, we look to the future after the birth of Jesus and what he meant for the world. In the after-glow of Christmas, let us be ready to share the good news that Christ is born!
Luke 2: 10-11 “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Each week leading up to Christmas our church lit a candle representing one of these: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. On Christmas Eve, the Advent wreath is completed when we light the centre candle, the Christ candle.
Even though Christmas looks different this year, we will still celebrate a night filled with music and light, just safely from our homes. We will hear the “good news of great joy”. We will sing along with a beloved carol, Silent Night. We will imagine the excitement and wonder of the shepherds at the manger. We will believe, even now, in the midst of an out of the ordinary Christmas, that Christ is born. Thanks be to God.
Knox Presbyterian Church will offer a worship service ONLINE ONLY, until it is safe for us to gather again. Services will continue to be found here at our website: www.knoxalliston.ca
Isaiah 9:2 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.”
As the days become shorter and the sun shines less and less, we especially love lights at Christmas time. We put them outside on our houses. We put them inside on our trees. We light scented candles of cinnamon, evergreen, and gingerbread. The light of the season helps us through the darkness of night. In the Bible, Jesus was declared the light of the world, the one who came to save us and lead us through the challenges of life. In this holiday season, I pray that you will come to know the light of Christ filled with hope, love, joy, and peace.
Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
The season of Christmas is known as a season of joy. The gift-giving, special foods, singing carols, and holiday parties are all traditions that make us happy this time of year. But, happiness is different from joy. Happiness is usually dependent on circumstances and can be fleeting when difficulties occur like they have this year. Joy is more about a state of contentment which overcome hard times, especially in these challenging days.
There is much joy in the Christmas story in the Bible. A young mother, Mary, rejoicing at the birth of her special son, angel choirs filling the sky, and shepherds praising God in a stable. Joy at the Saviour’s birth, then and now, comes from the promise that the world changed for the better with his arrival. As we face a very diffident holiday season, I pray that we will experience joy in everyday acts of love, in the wonder of unexpected gifts, and moments of calm in the middle of busyness.
“An angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1: 20-21
The story of the first Christmas is a story of love. Human beings long for love. Most of us have known love, through healthy relationships with family and friends, often taking for granted that everyone has the same experience. But, the reality is that not everyone has known good and life-giving love. In the Christmas story, we learn about love between Mary and Joseph along with the baby Jesus. We also learn about God’s amazing love for all of humankind by coming to live among us as the Saviour born in Bethlehem.
God’s love goes beyond what we can even imagine and yet is felt and known in our care, compassion, and concern for each other. During the holiday season in particular, we are called to encourage, support, and give to those in need, especially those in need of love.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Mark 1: 15
There was a poem written on the wall of a cellar during WW II that began with “I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining”. Throughout history, human beings have relied on hope to sustain them through challenging times, even when it seemed like all was lost.
On the first Sunday of Advent, the time of preparation before Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, it is with hope that we wait. We live in hope because a baby born in a stable hundreds of years ago was Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus came to usher in a new world and a new life promised by God. Today, we continue to live in anticipation and hope for tomorrow.
“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” Matthew 25: 37-40
The busy holiday season is upon us and the world is a different place than it was last year. It’s hard to imagine that our usual Christmas traditions won’t happen like they have before. We might be trying to figure out what matters the most and where we should put our time, our energy, and our resources.
Jesus told a story about helping others to help us figure out what should be most important to us. Next week, the season of Advent begins for Christians as we prepare to celebrate that Jesus came to the world. His example of loving, forgiving, feeding, healing, and welcoming is what we strive to live each and every day. The good news is that as we open our hearts, use our energy and resources to care and love and give to the least of these, we care and love and give to our God in Jesus Christ and that is ultimately what matters most. Thanks be to God.