Hearing the Music

Mountain Climbing

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I am not much of a mountain climber. I have taken some nice hikes out west that ended quite high with some beautiful views. I was also a participant in some cable car rides that deposited me high in the Alps and the peaks of Transylvania. But to really be a mountain climber takes effort, training, preparation, and a passion for getting “up" to see the world. Interestingly enough, YHWH, through the prophet Isaiah, tells the people of God to do some mountain climbing, "Go on up to a high mountain” (Isaiah 40:9). 

As we are going to discover this weekend, God is encouraging His people to become rock jocks for the purpose of heralding the good news of the Gospel. The basic message seems to be that once God makes us characters in His story we are to become carriers of His story. As with all mountaineering endeavors we will have to overcome fears, find a source of strength, and be carried along by our passion to gain a perspective on this world that is worth shouting from high places. Where will we find this courage, strength and passion? The message we are to carry is also the answer we need, “Behold your God!” (Is. 40:9). 

I look forward to seeing you this weekend and diving into this marvelous text. I do have a favor to ask. Our 10 am service was a little more crowded these past couple of weeks than we would like it to be. There is plenty of room in the 11:30am service. If a few of you 10am folks would consider taking a turn each week at 11:30am, we could balance the services out a bit. I realize that 11:30am is not the most convenient time, but making that sacrifice would be a service to many. Don’t forget to RSVP for services here.

Finally, plans are underway for a joint Christmas Eve service with Gracehill. We plan to incorporate some neighborhood caroling ahead of time, and make the service available via livestream.

Time to get climbing …

 

Photo by Diogo Tavares on Unsplash

Longing

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Advent is about longing. The longings of an exiled people for deliverance, for return to home; longings for things to be made right. As a people we connect to these longings in so many different ways. As a church, we seek to bring the Christmas lesson of "Joy to the World" into these longings. 

One significant place we hear the groaning of God's people is in the cries of those victimized by abuse. What follows is an introduction from a newly formed coalition of folks at Christ Church who desire to shine Light into these dark places.

Did you know that 1 out of 3 women, and 1 out of 4 men, have experienced some type or level of abuse? Those are statistics from the CDC, as well as from the recent report of the Baptist Convention on Abuse

This means that a significant number of us here at Christ Church either have experienced, or are experiencing, abuse in some form. God calls us to see the broken-hearted and vulnerable among us, to tend to them and protect them, just as He sent His Son to do. 

After several of your CC brothers and sisters read Rachel denHollander’s book, "What is a Girl Worth?", God laid it on our hearts to work toward the goal of caring for the abused in wholistic and healing ways. We have been prayerfully asking ourselves, “What is God calling Christ Church to do?".

One of the first things we realized is that we all need some education / consciousness-raising to increase understanding of what abuse is, what is its impact, and how to respond to it as God does. The psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual impacts of abuse are frequently unknown to the victims. But they may go through life with many wounds they don’t understand and about which they feel significant shame. How can we journey with victims and be God’s hands and feet in their lives?

As we journey together to shine His light in a broken world we intend to begin writing / speaking in short segments on this topic. Read. Listen. Think. Pray about what God may be saying to you about yourself, a friend, or someone you could journey with.

I am so grateful for this initiative. Abuse flourishes in the dark but loses power when it encounters the light. Be on the lookout for future updates.

This week Pastor Addison will be shining the light of Isaiah 40:6-8. It is a section that reminds us of the transience of humanity, but invites total trust in the Word of God, which stands forever. I look forward to our ministry together this Lord’s Day whether you are in person, online, or in the parking lot! 

May the Light reach into all of your dark places.

 

Photo by David-Olivier Gascon on Unsplash

in Advent

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

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And so begins the Advent season! Just like that we move from Thanksgiving into Advent, the season of preparation for the coming of Christ. During this time, we remember the story of Israel longing for a Messiah to liberate her from sin, exile, and oppression. We sing and remember how Christ came to this earth a first time as a human infant to carry out this mission. Even as we focus on his first coming, Advent helps us remember that, like Israel, we too await the full and final liberation from sin and death that Jesus will accomplish when he returns for the second and final time. 

Perhaps no chapter is more suited to Advent than Isaiah 40. This chapter, that begins the second part of Isaiah’s prophetic work, focuses squarely on the promise of deliverance for an exiled people. It is these words that G.F. Handel famously begins his Messiah with, leading with several minutes of glorious strains carrying the promise of this prophecy that points to the coming of the Jesus, the promised Messiah. It is this chapter that will hold our attention for the next month as we begin with God speaking tenderly to his people and climax with the promise that those who wait on the Lord will mount on wings like eagles, they shall run, even in exile, and not grow weary! (Isaiah 40:31).

I look forward to scaling these heights with you. Once again we will be uniting congregationally online, in the parking lot, or in person at one of our 3 morning services (note we have halted our evening service for the foreseeable future). Also we will once again be continuing our deeper reflection on these verses throughout the week with our prepared devotionals or sign up here to have them delivered to your email Monday through Friday.

Friends, these may be days of hard service, but every valley shall be exalted and every high place shall be brought low, and a highway shall appear in the desert, and we shall see HIM!

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