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.
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25: 21
It takes a whole lot of faith to invest in something: whether it’s investing money in the stock market or a business venture, investing in a child’s education, investing in a product that promises to make like better, or investing in a serious relationship with another person. It also takes some risk and trust to make an investment when the outcome is unknown, and the reward may take awhile. Some people are more comfortable with risk than others.
Jesus told a story about investing and what it means to use what we’ve been given and how to live up to our potential. In some ways, it’s about God investing in us and expecting a good return, even when the odds are uncertain. We are responsible for using our resources and our gifts to make the world a place that reflects God’s love for us. Followers of Jesus strive to be God’s wise investment and to hear Jesus say in the end, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25: 13
We are a culture that celebrates the newest thing: fancy phones, amazing gadgets, and innovative scientific discoveries. It’s funny how quickly the novelty fades and the latest fads become old news. It makes me wonder: what things stand the test of time? What things still have meaning and value long after they were shiny and new?
In the Bible, Jesus taught that following him wasn’t a fleeting choice, but a life-long commitment that would need to stand the test of time. He told a story about a group of bridesmaids, some who had enough oil for their lamps and some who did not. The bridesmaids who were not prepared for a long wait are like those who put more value on the things that come and go, rather than the things that stand the test of time.
On Remembrance Day, we honour those who gave their lives for freedom and those who continue to protect the values that have stood the test of time; justice, peace, honesty, and respect. We are fortunate to live in a country that believes that all people, no matter their status, religion, gender, or ethnicity, have a right to a life where those values are protected. We are reminded this week that we all have a responsibility to uphold the values that have stood the test of time.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5: 8
“God Bless You!” Sometimes we throw that phrase around without really thinking about what it means. The word bless means to ask for divine care, to praise or approve something, and to seek protection. We often think of a blessing as a reward, something good that’s happened. This has been one tough year and it might seem like blessings are hard to come by.
When Jesus stood on a hill and gave a sermon Christians call The Beatitudes, it was to a people who knew hard times. The list of blessings from God gave them hope that God knew their struggles and was still present and active in their lives.
Today, we too seek to know that all is not lost, that there are still good things happening around us. The Beatitudes point us in the right direction. The Message translation puts Matthew 5: 8 this way: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” When I hear this blessing, I am reassured that in all of life’s challenges right now, we are not without hope that God is still blessing us in ways that are seen and ways that are unseen. Thanks be to God.