While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called “the Baptizer,” was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.” (Matthew 3:1-2)
Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ and be up and about! (Romans 13:14)
The Message of Advent
As we look at God’s word, we need to understand how the Christ (as the word of God) comes to humankind now and how we can receive and carry the Christ’s presence today. This starts with our Love… and the guides for which can be found all throughout scripture. We are calling the next four weeks “The Four Steps to Christmas” — the offering of quality time, Gifts, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. The task then becomes to take this journey over the next four weeks to come into a full consciousness with God, who comes to us in Jesus the Christ and these stages of God’s love.
Also as part of our journey to the Christmas event you may find daily readings here. I will post them in our Facebook Group. They will also be the subject of our Monday Night Bible Study beginning on November 28th via Zoom.
May this journey be filled with blessings and awesome wonders in your relationship with God.
The Candles of Advent | Year A
First Sunday of Advent: Hope
VOICE – Today is the First Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Hope.
VOICES – Our hope is in God, and in his son Jesus Christ. He is the one appointed by God to be judge of all things. He is the one through whom God has promised to save and redeem his people.
VOICE – We light this candle today to remind us that he is our hope and the hope of the world. We thank God for the promises he has made to us and for the light he has brought into the world.
Light the First Candle
VOICES – Let us pray: O God of Hope, Emmanuel, God with Us, we pray you to send your light into our hearts at this time. Help us to be ready for the day and the hour of Christ’s final appearing. Live in us and help us to live in you. By the power of the Holy Spirit, transform us so that our worship, our celebration, our time of preparation, may be pleasing unto you — both now and forevermore. Amen.
Readings: Psalm 122, Matthew 24:36-44
Message: “Prepare” (Romans 13:11-14) Pastor Paul
Second Sunday of Advent: Peace
VOICE – Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Peace.
VOICES – Our peace is found in God and in his son, Jesus Christ. John the Baptist, and all the prophets remind us, that to receive peace we must be prepared for it.
VOICE – We light this candle today to remind us that Christ is
the Prince of Peace, the one promised from the beginning
of the world. We thank God for the hope he gives us and
for the peace he bestows.
Light the First and Second Candles
VOICES – Let us pray: O God of Peace, Emmanuel, we pray you to send your light into our hearts currently. Help us to be ready for the day and the hour of Christ’s appearing. Work in our hearts currently and help us prepare ourselves for the peace that he brings — the inner peace that tells us that we are united with you and the outer peace which will come when he returns to judge the world. Bless our worship that it may be pleasing unto you, and bless us that we may prove to be your faithful servants. Amen.
Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-13
Message: “Repent” (Matthew 3:1-12) Pastor Paul
Third Sunday of Advent | White Gift Sunday: Joy
VOICE – Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy.
VOICES – Our joy is in God and in his son Jesus Christ. Like peace, joy is a gift from God. It overtakes us and fills us when we remember what God has done and what he has promised to do.
VOICE – We light this candle today to remind us that Christ came, and is coming, so that all people might have a rich and abundant life. We thank God for the hope he gives us, for the peace he bestows, and for the joy he pours into our hearts.
Light the First, Second and Third Candle
VOICES – Let us pray: O God of Joy, Emmanuel, send your light
into our hearts at this time. Help us to be ready for the time of Christ’s appearing. Fix our hearts and our minds upon those things you have done and those you have promised to do that we may have the joy you have promised. As we worship you, strengthen us so that we may always do your will and so bless you and the world you have made. Amen.
Readings: Isaiah 35:1-10, Matthew 11:2-11
Message: “Be Patient” (James 5:7-10) Pastor Paul
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love
VOICE – Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Love.
VOICES – Jesus shows us God’s perfect love. He is God’s perfect love in human form. Those who believe in him and live in him, live in love. Love transforms and perfects all things. It never ends.
VOICE – We light this candle today to remind us that God is love. We thank God for hope he gives us, for the peace he bestows, for the joy he pours into our hearts, and for the love that redeems us and shows us the way.
Light the First, Second, Third and Fourth Candle
VOICES – Let us pray: O God of Love, Emmanuel, send your light into our hearts currently. Help us to be ready for the time of Christ’s appearing. Grant that we may so dwell in him that his perfect love fills our entire being. Make our worship a time in which we celebrate your love and are made ready to show that love to the whole world — both today and forevermore. Amen.
Readings: Isaiah 7:10-16, Romans 1:1-7
Message: “God Always Answers” (Matthew 1:18-25) Pastor Paul
Jesus prayed, “God, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 21:34-35)
The key dates of the 2022 Christmas season are:
- Advent I (Hope, blue candle): Sunday, November 27
- Advent II (Faith, blue candle): Sunday, December 4
- Advent III (Joy, pink candle): Sunday, December 11
- Advent IV (Peace, blue candle): Sunday, December 18
- Christmas Eve: Saturday, December 24 — We will join First Christian Church of Decatur in their main sanctuary at 6pm to celebrate the eve of Christ’s birth. At 11pm we will lead the second Christmas Eve service. All are welcome.
- Christmas Day (Purity, white candle): Sunday, December 25 — Regular worship service at 10:30am. The church office will be closed.
- Day after Christmas: Monday, December 26 — The church office will be closed.
- Epiphany Sunday: January 8
Decatur Tree & Wreath Sale
The 15th Annual Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale at First Christian Church of Decatur opens on Friday, November 25th and continues until everything is sold out. Proceeds benefit church and community ninistries in the City of Decatur, including the Decatur Toy Park.
Teddy Bear Ministry
Every year, Gentle Spirit Christian Church collects teddy bears and stuffed animals during the Advent season and distributes them to patients in local hospitals and hospices to spread Christmas cheer and let them know they’re not alone. To participate, you can either bring a teddy bear(s) to a church service or contact the church office to arrange to drop them off.
Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace — don’t let it get away! (Psalm 34:14)
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. (1 John 4:18)
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup — where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? (James 2:14-17)
God-friendship is for God-worshipers;
They are the ones God confides in.
If I keep my eyes on God,
I won’t trip over my own feet. (Psalm 25:14-15)
But you — keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant. (2 Timothy 4:5)