This is the final week of advent, a word that means "coming" and is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child.
As we met on Christmas Eve we finally lit the final candle, the Christ candle and then we used that flame to pass from one to another the light of Christ. One of my favorite moments of the whole year is to stand together and hold the light of Christ high as we sing his praises as one.
I could talk about the light of Christ, but I would rather just leave you with the words written for us by the Apostle John in chapter one.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you would know the light of Christ, that it would light the way for your life and that you would proudly share that light with all who live in darkness that they too may know the one who can overcome the darkness.
I was in my teen years during the 90's Hip Hop and Rap Revolution, where it seemed like everyone wanted to wear their hats backwards and talk like they were from the hood. It was not uncommon to hear my friends say things like "Yo" and "word to your mother" and of course when it was time to leave, they would shout "peace out!" And while it's funny to think about all those white Indiana kids pretending to be rappers, the sentiment isn't all bad.
In ancient Jewish culture, the most common greeting was Shalom aleichem (meaning "peace be upon you") to which you would then respond Aleichem shalom (meaning "unto you peace").
During this season, especially, we hope for peace. Peace from war. Peace in our homes. Peace in our marriages. Maybe even peace among our politicians (hey, a man can dream...right?).
In Luke 2 the angels said to the shepherds "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
My prayer is that you would feel the peace of Christ this Christmas. May you seek it (as wise men always have) in He who is the Prince of Peace.
Peace out ya'll,
Pastor Scott McDermid
This week we lit the second candle on our Advent wreath as we continue to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ child.
The second candle, often called the "Bethlehem Candle", is many times said to represent faith or love. It reminds of the dangerous and difficult journey that Mary and Joseph undertook to reach the city of David.
Though it was Caesar who called for the census that led to the journey, the fact that the Messiah would be born in this "little town" had been prophesied many years before by the Old Testament prophet Micah.
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:2)
Just as Mary and Joseph took a journey during this season, so should we. We must each journey toward the manger to worship the baby. We must each also remember that God is with us on the journey. Each step you take, you take with God watching over you. Each decision you make is made with God at your side.
Deuteronomy 31:8 says "the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged"
Pastor Scott McDermid
This past week we started our celebration of Advent (which means coming or to come) as we look forward to the coming of the Christ child.
Each year we light candles on the wreath leading up to Christmas Eve, when we light the final Christ candle.
The first candle on the wreath represents hope. Hope is a powerful thing and can make the difference between a life full of meaning and a life without. Hope can keep us going during dark seasons of grief, depression or pain. Hope can help us persevere during the hard times of life. Hope can push us on to do the right thing knowing that God is with us.
Isaiah 9:2 says "the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned"
During your dark nights (or days or months or even years) it is good to know that there is light coming. No matter how dark the night seems, morning is on it's way.
For us that coming is Jesus. Jesus brings us hope. His love helps us press on. His power gives us the ability to trust Him.
I pray you remember the hope that you have in Christ. He is "with us" and that is the hope we cling to.