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.
Colossians 4:2 "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
In just a few days I will gather with family and share a traditional American Thanksgiving meal with Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes (and the McDermid family Sweet Potatoes with mini-marshmallows). We will take time at some point to share something we are thankful for and I always have a tough time picking just one thing (I'll probably choose my family).
But since I have time here, I will list a few more things
1. I am thankful for my church family. Over the past year we have felt loved and welcomed here as we settled into our new church home. My kids have made friends. We have been invited into people's homes. We have been sent notes of encouragement...we have felt very loved!
2. I am thankful for our servant leaders here at Six Points. This church has an amazing group of volunteer leaders who serve with willing hearts. They give their time, energy and effort to make this church a better place and I am blessed to work alongside them for the Kingdom. To my MLT and LBA leaders...thank you for your work for the Lord!
3. I am thankful for my co-workers. I love working with Vickie and Pastor Andrew here at the church and they are a blessing to me and to many. We are a team and their efforts make this a better church community.
4. I am thankful for the saints here at Six Points. You are a blessing to me. Your love for the Lord is an example to me. Your commitment to your faith in both good and bad times is inspiring to me.
Blessings on you this Thanksgiving
Pastor Scott McDermid
I have some great neighbors, but a few are a bit quirky too. One woman walks her dogs every day no matter the weather, but also chooses to sit down on people's grass if she gets tired and needs a rest. One mows his grass multiple times a week, even when it looks fine to me. One has clothes for their dog. But no matter how odd some of their behaviors seem to me, we take care of each other.
When I needed someone to water our garden while we were on our summer trip, a neighbor boy came and did it for free.
When a neighbor lost a tree in a big wind storm, several chipped in to cut it up and move it for them (including my 10 year old and I...I was proud of him that day).
We help each other out. We watch out for each other's homes. We are often willing to lend a hand or loan out a tool or let someone borrow that cup of sugar.
In Luke 10, Jesus commands the people to "love their neighbor as themselves" and then tells us a story about what this looks like as one man helps out another who is in a tough spot.
In this definition of neighbor, we realize that Jesus doesn't just mean the people we already know and like, but any fellow man (or woman) who we encounter and that love isn't a feeling but an action.
You may have been at church on Sunday to hear about a new opportunity we will have as a church to be a part of Family Promise of Hamilton County (www.fpofhc.org) where we can show our love in action to families in our community who are homeless and need some help.
I pray you will prayerfully consider making this ministry one that you support with your time and effort as we seek to be good neighbors.
Pastor Scott McDermid
In the ancient world, actors wore masks that clearly showed their emotions. The masks had big smiles or big frowns so that it was obvious to all what emotion the actor was feeling. Of course, that was just the emotion the actor was showing...we have no way of knowing what feeling the actor was really having behind the mask.
I spent some years in high school doing theater productions and I played parts from a jailer to a baseball player to a Mexican spy...but of course I am none of those things in real life, they were just parts I played.
Similarly, we often play a part in life. We pretend to be happy even though we are sad. We pretend to have it all together even though we are broken. We pretend to have a strong relationship with God even though we feel lost. We put on a mask and play a part.
Why? Why do we try to fool others? Why do we even try to fool ourselves and God? Maybe we think we will be judged or that others don't really care...but I want to be a part of a church where it’s safe to be real and vulnerable. I will work as the pastor to help foster that kind of atmosphere so that you can take off your mask and be the real you.
2 Corinthians 4:2 says "We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception."
Let's be real, let's not keep secrets (that tend to grow in the dark) but let's bring the truth of our hearts into the light of God (and the church) and love each other; no masks needed.
It was Christmas Eve and I was about 8 years old. My family had gone to church for the candlelight service and now we were home getting ready for bed before the big day of presents but we had a few things to do first. We put on our matching Christmas pajamas (a tradition my mom loved but I hated), poured a glass of milk and got some cookies for the big guy. The cookies went a special plate (the kind you might buy at Hallmark) that we used every year. My sister carried the milk and I carried the cookies to put them on the mantle for Santa; but I tripped and the cookies and the plate went flying. The plate broke into many pieces and so did my heart. I felt awful for breaking the special plate and was worried I had ruined my chances for gifts from Santa who I was sure would be disappointed in me. My parents wiped away my tears and sent me off to bed with assurances that Santa was an understanding guy.
The next morning I was surprised not only by gifts, but by the sigh of that plate carefully glued back together. Once fixed the plate was never quite the same with obvious cracks in it, but we used it anyway year after year and laughed about the memory.
A few years ago, once I had my own family, my parents gave me
that plate and we use it year after year too. I love that plate. I love it because I know that my father stayed up late on Christmas Eve and carefully put it back together piece by piece because he loved his son. Now I tell my sons the story and watch as they carefully carry it to our fireplace (they haven't dropped it yet). I like it more because it was broken.
God, our Heavenly Father, seems to like to fix broken things. He says in Revelation 21:5 "Behold, I am making all things new!"
God can take us, broken as we might be, and make us beautiful again...and actually by his fixing we are more beautiful than ever before! Hallelujah, God loves us and through his love he is ready with the glue!
Have you seen the movies "Finding Nemo" or the more recent "Finding Dory" movies? If you have, you likely remember the little song that Dory (a fish with short term memory loss) uses to remind herself not to give up when things get hard, she repeats over and over again "just keep swimming."
Sometimes life is hard. Over the past few weeks I have heard story after story about church members and friends who are going through hard stuff. Some have diseases that aren't getting better, at least not quickly. Some have lost loved ones. Some are going through financial trouble. Some are lonely or feel like they aren't good enough because of mistakes they've made...but no matter the reason, it is tempting to give up.
I encourage you to think of Dory and her words to "just keep swimming" or even better to reflect on the words of scripture that share a similar idea. Galatians 6:9 says "let us not become weary of doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." or Psalm 37:24 that says "though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand."
So don't give up, God's got you.
Pastor Scott McDermid
One of my favorite people in the Bible is a guy named Joseph (not the one with the fancy coat or the one who raised Jesus) but nobody calls him that. Joseph was his given name, but his nickname throughout history is Barbabas (which means "son of encouragement").
Encouragement means the act of giving someone hope, support or confidence. It literally means to "give courage." So if you are scared, worried, anxious or nervous, a word of encouragement would help you find your strength
Barbabas must have been so encouraging that they decided to go ahead and make it his name and that's exactly what we see in his life through the book of acts, like in this scripture. "He traveled through the area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people" Acts 20:2.
I want to be that kind of person, who makes the others around me better through my words and actions. I want to give people courage so that when I am done talking to them they have more hope, faith or confidence...and not in me or even in themselves; but in God.
Let's reflect on the words of Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Let's encourage one another so that we are stronger individually and together.
Pastor Scott McDermid