Our December 12 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The December 19 Sunday worship service as well as the December 15 Advent service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. With an upturn in county COVID cases, we recommend masks even for those who are vaccinated.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
Zephaniah 3:14-20 | Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7 | Luke 3:7-18
Did you notice anything that seemed different? Did you notice anything different in the service? I’ll give you a little hint. Instead of lighting all blue candles on the Advent Wreath, today we lit two blue candles and the rose-colored candle. First of all, you would assume that all of the candles would be blue on the wreath. But there is one that isn’t blue. That rose colored candle is the cue. Yes, it is a rose-colored candle. It isn’t pink. It is rose colored. It is explicitly called the rose candle. That by itself is strange, since in Latin, and its related languages, “rose” means “pink.” But no, it is rose colored. It is the candle of joy (notice, “rose” “joy”). Classically, rose is the color of joy. It has always been called the Rose Candle for as far back as it has been around.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been speaking of Advent as the season of anticipation and preparation. It is. But today, the theme shifts a bit to joy. Joy that that for which we have been preparing is coming near. It is only natural, that there is joy as something nears its completion. You have worked hard to prepare for something, and when the end finally seems to be in sight, there is joy.
As we have prepared, each in our own ways for the coming of our Lord into our world, into our lives, we feel the joy increase in us as well. If you have forgotten that part of this season of Advent, just look to the children – “Visions of Sugar Plums are dancing in their heads” already. Or, visions of other things are dancing in their heads. They are getting anxious, in anticipation and joy.
There is something else as well. There is even more anticipation. As that for which we prepare comes closer, we grow in even greater anticipation. It can even take on the capacity of single mindedness. Letting nothing else get in our way. But, with John the Baptist, there is also sort of a warning. What you are expecting is not exactly what is coming. It is something else.
I think that “Expect the Unexpected” would be another theme for Advent. I had a couple of experiences of that this week. Last Sunday, I gave the Memorial Speech for the Elks. Looking at the list of those members who have died in the past year, there were 16 of them, I knew several of them, and buried a couple of them, I decided to make the speech to be a celebration of these men. After it was over, one of the Elks came over to thank me. And he said, “I was expecting fire and brimstone. This was good.” I don’t know why you would give a fire and brimstone speech for an event like that. But, that is what he was expecting. He was surprised by a celebration.
Thursday, Ruth and I were going to the chiropractor. We pulled up to the intersection at Fletcher and Main, and waited. There was a woman trying to turn onto Fletcher from Main Street. She had her child or grandchild in the car. It was hard to tell. She was wearing a mask, and her hair was obviously colored (not rose colored). She was having trouble making the turn because she had hit the De Soto Rush Minute. She was having trouble, actually backed up a little bit a couple of times. She appeared a bit frustrated. She was there long enough that two pickup trucks passed her on the right side. Ruth and I sat there and waited. There was nothing that could be done because of the traffic. She finally was able to make the turn. And, as she drove passed us, she gave us the Jefferson County One Finger Wave. That is not what I was expecting. We had just been sitting there, waiting to make our turn. I guess that she was taking out her frustration on me. Maybe it is her way of saying Season’s Greetings? Maybe her frustration inclined her to “burn someone with unquenchable fire?” Oh well, sometimes what you’re waiting for has a “winnowing fork in his hand.”
We, and all of Christendom, have been preparing these weeks of Advent for the coming of our Lord. Homes have been decorated. Menus and favorite foods have been gotten ready. Shopping is being done. I’ve already raided Aldi’s and Amazon. Cards to loved ones prepared, although not necessarily sent yet. But more especially, Advent calendars have been slowly, daily opened. Special devotions have been said and followed. Our lives are refocused. We are preparing for the coming of our Lord. Our God comes to us, is incarnate as one of us, a human being, and shares a human life with us. It is a time of great preparation, but also of great elation. And surely it comes, both in expected and unexpected ways.
In this season of preparation, and the turmoil which it can bring to our lives with hectic confusion, remember that it is most especially a season now of joy. Christ comes to us, even us. Lift up your hearts. He comes, as he comes to us now in his Holy Supper. Prepare your hearts and minds to meet our Lord there, as he comes to us in the bread and the wine, His body and blood, shed for you.