The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Matthew 1:18-25
12 mins 46 secs
Views: 22
Very Soon Advent is almost complete, Jesus is coming soon! This Sunday in the fourth week of Advent, we hear Isaiah’s prophesy, and Joseph’s perspective of the virgin birth. The faith of both Mary and Joseph in the face of incredible proclamations are an inspiration to us in our walk with God. On Tuesday we celebrate Christmas Eve with a family service at 4 pm and a Candlelight and Harp service at 8 pm. Wednesday, Christmas Day we will celebrate again at 10 am and finish with cinnamon buns and coffee in the parish hall. Which brings us to another relevant, but entirely untheological point… We are moving back into the church! Today the pews were installed (not bolted down yet, but assembled and in place), the railing was added to the ramp, wainscoting and door casings were completed and the backdoor hardware was added. Tomorrow the church will be cleaned and Saturday afternoon we will move back into church. The rest of the renovations will be done Mondays through Fridays so that we can continue to worship in the church as it is completed over time. Many thanks to our architect and builder Salvatore Caruso and his assistant Navita Nirankari for excellent designs and implementation of these improvements. Praise God for all the grace filled moments that have helped this come together in time for Christmas.
The Rev. Carole Anderson
Matthew 11:2-11
11 mins 14 secs
Views: 22
This week we encounter the third week of Advent. The rose candle which we light this week refers to “Guadete” or “Rose Rejoicing” Sunday. This comes from the epistle to the Philippians which speaks of “rejoicing in the Lord always”. Rose Rejoicing Sunday reminds us of how anticipated joy over our Savior’s coming breaks through all our serious Advent preparations. Those of us who have grown up in the Anglican Church know that Advent is a somber season. There were no alleluias and no flowers until Christmas. Some churches even omitted the “Gloria Patri” at the end of the Psalm during Advent. There was to be no celebrating until Christmas. So Rose Rejoicing Sunday gives us an opportunity to rejoice as we await the coming of our King at Christmas. Isaiah speaks of the joy of the redeemed in the coming of their Messiah, or deliverer. Isaiah 35: 1-2 "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God." This is similar to what happens when someone becomes a believer. The dry desert in which they have existed springs into bloom and they greatly rejoice and shout for joy at what the Lord has done for them. Continuing in Isaiah verse 8 we are told of a highway that will be called the Way of Holiness that only the redeemed will be allowed to access. Then verse 10, “They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” As we continue in our preparations for Christ's Mass: Have we been obedient in our preparations for our coming King? Will we be among those walking the Way of Holiness? Will we be able to say with John in Rev.19:7, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” Lord, let us be prepared for Your coming. Our desire is to be the most radiant bride who waits for her groom with great joy in her eyes.
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Matthew 3:1-12
15 mins 51 secs
Views: 25
This week is the second Sunday of Advent and our Gospel is about John the Baptist and his call to Israel to “repent for the kingdom of God has come near,” as preparation for the coming Messiah. All of our readings touch on this theme of the coming kingdom of God and the world-wide reign of a righteous king. With the hindsight of living in a post -resurrection world, we know that Jesus is the righteous shoot out of the stump of Jesse. The Kingdom of God has begun and is also still in progress. We haven’t seen the complete fulfillment of the abiding peace, justice and mercy of the reign of King, but in Advent we long for that time when Jesus returns in all his glory and the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36 This Thursday we give thanks to our Creator for all the blessings and provisions in our life and celebrate with family and friends. And on Friday, the Christmas Shopping Season begins with all of it’s pressures. But this Sunday is also the beginning of Advent and the beginning of a new Church year (Last week’s five baptisms was a great New Year’s Eve party!). Advent is a time to quiet our souls, to deepen our faith, and to follow Jesus more nearly as we anticipate both His birth and glorious return. We look forward to celebrating the Incarnation at Christmas, but our readings also look forward to the second coming of Christ which will come at an unexpected hour. How do we hold on to Advent in the midst of Christmas preparations? How do we hold on to a vision of eternity in the midst of the distractions and pressures of our time-bound lives?
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 23:33-43
5 mins 27 secs
Views: 11
From our readings this week: The Lord is our shepherd, the Lord is our righteousness, God is our refuge and strength… He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins… For in Him the all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross… “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” The rescue mission of mankind from darkness and death into righteousness and peace, through the blood of the Crucified, continues this week as we celebrate the baptism of five children into the family of God.
The Rev. Carole Anderson
Luke 21:5-19
13 mins 36 secs
Views: 6
Our readings this week take a different turn as Jesus moves away from his controversies with the Jewish Leaders and returns to the teaching of his disciples. Jesus knows that the time is short and his disciples must be prepared for what is ahead. Our reading from the Gospel of Luke (21:5-19) is a portion of what is known as "The Olivet Discourse," because Jesus delivered it on the Mt. of Olives. Jesus' words are a stern warning to the disciples and to us of what lies ahead. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives." The last line is worth repeating, "By your endurance you will gain your lives." The NIV Bible says, "by standing firm you will gain life." If we compare this to Paul's letter (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13), we have a more complete picture of how we are to live as Christians. Paul urges the Thessalonians, "do not grow weary in doing good" So our message for this week seems to be: Do not grow weary in doing good and stand firm- because in doing so we will gain life. A good reminder to us all to, “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eps. 6:10-12) And all the more as we see the Day approaching. Blessings to you, Deacon Carole
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 20:27-38
16 mins 2 secs
Views: 1
If there is no justice in this world, then where is our just God? Resurrection and justice are tied together in many of our readings this week. When Job is afflicted without cause, and the wicked prosper despite their wickedness, how do we not despair? But if our Redeemer lives, if He attends to our cry, then there is access to justice, even if it is not accomplished in this lifetime. If He is our protection, our hiding place, then all is not lost. In our Gospel this week, the Sadducees, who don’t believe in the resurrection, and who therefore believe that all justice and redemption will be accomplished in this life, on this earth, try to show how confusing marriage laws become in the context of the resurrection. Jesus dismisses their argument by explaining that there is no marriage in Heaven. But beyond, this easy dismissal, Jesus’ insistence on the resurrection speaks to His upcoming resurrection and speaks as an answer to the horrific violence of the destruction of the temple shortly after his death. Despite the injustice of this life, the hope of the resurrection, and our experience of God’s presence, are core, not ancillary, to our life in Christ.
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 19:1-10
10 mins 10 secs
Views: 41
From the time we are children, we are taught the difference between right and wrong, between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, between good guys and bad guys. We have expectations on how teachers and leaders behave and who they hang out with. This week, in our Gospel, Jesus once again turns everything upside down, breaks the accepted conventions and honors a rich tax collector by inviting himself to Zaccheasus’ house. In our Old Testament reading, God also turns things upside down by saying that He is tired of the sacrifices and offerings of Israel and tired of their various purifying fasts and rituals. Instead He says: Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:16-18 Ultimately, it is not our efforts but the redemptive work of God that forgives our sins, makes us acceptable and washes us white as snow. This Sunday at the second service we will share in the joy of the angels as we baptize a new member into the family of God.
The Rev. Carole Anderson
Luke 18:9-14
14 mins 30 secs
Views: 52
In our readings for this week, our psalm reminds us of the joy and blessedness we have because of our freedom in Christ. Psalm 84 is a prayer of longing for the house of the Lord. It is the cry of the heart of the Levite who presumably wrote this during a period when temple worship was prohibited. Not only was worship banned, but also any access to God's house was forbidden. The author gives voice to his longing for the sweet nearness to God in his temple that he had known in the past. "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." Have we ever felt this way? It seems so poignant that here is a priest who has no place to worship. Imagine if this should happen to us. How would we react? Well the good news is that our bodies are the Lord's temple, so we really don't need a temple or church to worship God or to come into His presence. Denying us access to the church and corporate worship will not bar God's presence from our lives because, Jesus makes His home in our hearts when we ask Him in. Also, we have the Holy Spirit who teaches us and instructs us in the way that we should go. So, while we would probably miss our place of worship and the fellowship, we would not be without access to God. In Paul's letter to Timothy, we have a wonderful example of a life lived in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Written while Paul is imprisoned in Rome, we can see from what he writes, that he has complete access to God. Clearly, Paul is someone who is not only in tune with the Holy Spirit; he also does nothing without the Holy Spirit's guidance. Can we say the same thing? Things to ponder
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 18:1-8
18 mins 4 secs
Views: 37
This week’s Gospel is the parable of the persistent widow who receives justice from an unjust judge and our Old Testament reading is the story of Jacob wrestling with God all night and receiving an out of joint hip, a blessing and a new identity. Our epistle is Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.” It is a powerful dose of the value of persistence, but what do unjust judges, wrestling blessings from God and working quickly before it is too late have to do with our relationship with a holy, loving and generous God