“INCARNATION” – November 29th – January 3rd

 
Theme: Amplifying the Incarnation in our lives today.
The word incarnation means to embody. This is one of the foundational claims of our faith: that the God of all creation came to us in Jesus. While we might struggle to explain the mysteries of the Incarnation, the most important question is what impact does the birth of Christ have us today? How might we embody the heart of Christ in our daily lives? We’ll turn to the prophecies of Isaiah as we contemplate the many aspects of who the incarnated Christ was and consider how we might allow those very same attributes to be born within us as well.
 
November 29th – “Anointed”
Isaiah 61:1-2a (Isaiah 9:6-7) – Theme: We are set apart for God’s will to be done through us.
Matthew begins his telling of the Christmas story with these words, “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.” Messiah means anointed one, someone being set apart for God’s will. The prophet Isaiah speaks of David, Israel’s archetypal king. His name is found over one thousand times in the bible, second only to Jesus. But what Isaiah emphasizes is the covenant that God makes with David, where a descendent of his will rule over God’s people forever. In Advent, we focus on that ‘messianic hope,’ yearning for the arrival of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. When we pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” we pledge allegiance to our Lord, being set apart for God’s will to be done through us in God’s kingdom today.
 
December 6th – Special Peace Community Christmas Pageant Online or in-person (reservations required for in-person)
 
December 13th – “Bearer of Good News”
Isaiah 58:6-9a – Theme: We bear the good news that Jesus saves.
Joseph is told by an angel in a dream, “Mary will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus’ name is derived from the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh; a word that means to save or to deliver. We understand our sin to be that which separates us from God, but what about that which separates us from each other? The good news found in the Christ child is more than just “Jesus saves.” The ways in which we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick are all manifestations of Christ’s good news in the world today. Like Mary, we too can bear the good news that Jesus saves.
 
December 20th – “Releaser of the Captive”
Isaiah 7:14-16 – Theme: We embody God’s mercy, bringing freedom to those held captive by their pain.
Matthew references Isaiah 7 when saying the son shall be called Emmanuel. Yet, there is no evidence Mary ever called Jesus by this title. In fact, the name isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament. Yet, this word Emmanuel carried powerful significance to Isaiah and to Matthew. Perhaps it should to us as well? Emmanuel means “God with us.” In the midst of a season where so many are held captive by griping anxiety, financial insecurity, and unsettling change, the promise of the Incarnation should bring freedom and liberation. The fact that God took on flesh and entered our world as a human being means God doesn’t just imagine what it’s like to be human, God knows it. How can we do the same with God? How can we go from imagining God’s love and mercy to embodying it in the way we bring freedom to those who are held captive by their pain?
 
December 24th – “Light of the World” (Christmas Eve) Worship Services @ 4:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. Online or in-person (reservations required for in-person)
John 1:1-5 – Theme: We become the light of the world wherever we find darkness.
Light shines in the darkness; the Word became flesh. The One who once said, “Let there be light” comes to us in Jesus, reminding us that the creative power of God continues to speak all things into existence. That light continues to break through the darkness into the world today. We are called to become the light of the world, to look at the darkness around us and say, “Let there be light.”
 
December 27th – “Proclaimer of the Word”
Isaiah 58:9-10 – Theme: We proclaim that the love of Christ has been born in us.
In John’s description of the Incarnation, he calls Jesus ‘the Word.’ While this may seem like a strange title, ‘the Word’ has to do with reasoning, logic and wisdom. We often think about the Word of God being the Bible, but the Word of God in its most definitive form came to us in Christ. This was God’s most clear revelation to us of who God is. Jesus incarnates the very nature of God. But we are not merely passive recipients of this word; we are part of God’s plan. The prophet Isaiah gives us a clear image of what it looks like to proclaim the Word of God within our own lives. We are meant to incarnate Christ’s nature in how we address injustice, heal the wounded, and satisfy the needs of the afflicted. We were created to proclaim today, this month, this coming year even, that the love of Christ has been born in us. 
 
January 3rd – “Falling To Our Knees”
Isaiah 60:1-6 – Theme: We offer evidence that Jesus is our Lord in every aspect of our lives.
The word Epiphany means to appear, to be seen, to manifest. The visit from the Magi holds significant meaning within the Gospel of Matthew, especially as it pertains to the wideness of God’s mercy and the inclusion of the whole world into the love of Christ. Much has been said about the gifts the Magi bring to Jesus. But what if the primary meaning of these gifts was to highlight the prophecy of Isaiah, where a promise is made of everlasting light that will rise upon us as we kneel and praise our Lord. Christ is the Lord of lords, but is he our Lord? How do we ‘kneel’ before him in our daily lives? Every aspect of our lives should offer evidence that Jesus is our King, our Messiah, our Lord.