Worship Times and Styles

Saturday, 5:00 PM in the chapel

Traditional worship in a relaxed, intimate setting

Holy Communion every week, open to all believers

Sunday, 10:00 AM in the sanctuary

Traditional, liturgical worship in our beautifully designed main sanctuary

Nursery available for children under age 4

Holy Communion every week, open to all believers

Children are a part of the body of Christ, and we encourage families to worship together. Activity bags are available in both worship spaces, and Pastor Jerry shares a fun, meaningful message for children every week.

Sermon:Luke 3:1-6 Second Sunday of Advent

Advent is a season of anxious waiting, thoughtful remembering and even celebrating. Just this morning I was anxiously awaiting the commencement for Reggie Moore at Bramlage Coliseum. I remembered those many days over the past few years when a frustrated Reggie would plop down in my office, and say, ‘Pastor, secondary education, what was I thinking?” Today we the crowd celebrated in hearing our Music Director, Kolby Van Camp, sing our national anthem and close with the KSU alma mater, as the President of the Alumni Association informed them, they all now have ‘purple blood.’

Similarly, this week a grateful nation remembered the ‘day in infamy’ on December 7, 1941; and the Greatest Generation for bringing us through tyranny to victory. While a grateful nation also celebrated a member of that greatest generation, as we mourned the passing of President George H.W. Bush. Anxiety, to all we say “well done good and faithful servants. Remembrance, reflection, celebration are all a part of life and our Advent Season. Knowing it leads us to our Lord’s Nativity and salvation for generations past and generations to come. Advent brings us closure and hope. And yes, to Christmas time!

While the Christmas season is a time…for cluttering.  Be honest, most us know that our lives, our homes, our schedules, our world is already over stuffed and here we bring out more…stuff.  When we begin to decorate, boxes are pulled out from the attic, the basement or garage, a closet or maybe from all these places.   As we begin to unpack the decorations, they bring out with them so many memories.  But in order to find a place to put them, we have to rearrange most of the things that are already out in our homes during the year.  We already have things filling the shelves, the tabletops, and the cabinets, and here comes more. Christmas is the season for clutter. Advent is the season to unclutter.

The world doesn't stop for Christmas, it relishes busyness.  We still have to work or keep appointments or do those things that keep our lives running--while finding more time for friends and family. Then there is shopping. If our calendars, homes and budgets are not parables enough of how Christmas is a time for cluttering, how about our waistlines?  Even the best-intended eater is challenged with all the sweets and goodies that are offered during the holidays. As the rush and hurry of preparing for Christmas begins to crowd into already over-filled lives, we hear with new meaning the words of the prophet Malachi, "But who can endure the day of his coming?"  Of course, Malachi's question was one of far greater magnitude, of standing before the judgment of God, but his warning speaks to us as we approach another Christmas season.

We don't know how much the wise men paid for their gifts, or how much time or effort was invested by the shepherds, but we know that both came for one reason: to worship and adore the child born at Bethlehem.  They were not distracted by clutter in their lives.  Out of all the stars that filled the sky, the wise men stayed focused on one.  The shepherds even set aside their sheep… to go see of what the angels told them. Faith, hope and love…not clutter.

I just love John the Baptist. To me he was one of the most colorful characters in all of history.  Clad in a camel hair, his diet consisted of locust and wild honey.  He ranted and raved while challenging all earthy authority. JB didn’t know what was PC...only JC. He went out into the wilderness, away from the city and crowds, to attract even a greater crowd.  He seemed determined to fail.  Instead, all these things we think his ‘poor choices’ today, Matthew says that people from all over were flocking to hear John’s message of repentance.

John's word in the wilderness came from the prophet Isaiah spoken at the time Israel was in exile in Babylon.  Separating God's people from their home was a wilderness, that appeared impossible for them to deal with.  The promise in Isaiah 40, with the words John uses, is that comfort comes to God's people, in the wilderness. A way prepared for the Lord.

Yet before the vision of returning home could be fulfilled for those who first heard Isaiah's words, it would take the efforts of Divine guidance and the blessings of God.  And the promise of what this new way will open is not limited to the people in exile--or in the case of the promise from John--to those who hear his call but to all flesh.  There will be new power and hope that comes from God's presence in our lives and in our world.  In these days leading up to Christmas may we see beyond the clutter of living to the hope that was born so many years ago in Bethlehem.  We, too, can find the way for God to be in our days and our hearts--to see the Divine in our ordinary.

St. Augustine was right when he prayed to God that our hearts were restless until they find rest in God.  So how can we approach such a holy season as Christmas and miss the holy?  Where does all this clutter come from?  How do our days get so filled?  Could it be a failure on our part to prioritize that which should take precedent in our lives?  Look at your calendar for the days between now and Christmas.  Where have you set aside time for worship, for prayer, for some quiet time?  Advent is the season of ‘uncluttering’; a major part of uncluttering is making sure there is time for God to touch our lives and shape our days. To prepare the way of the Lord means to make choices.  We must decide what we are to focus our lives and days on.  We must decide what we will keep. How we will unclutter our lives.

To unclutter means not just moving from one crisis to another but moving with a sense of purpose.  The Christmas carol says, "O come, let us adore him" and not "O come, let us ignore him."  It means that the Lord reigns in our lives. That doesn't just ‘happen’ with Christmas.  This needs to be intentional on our part.  The rush and the push of the holidays make it even more difficult--to unclutter our lives, to focus our thinking, to be intentional--as John the Baptizer’s challenge.  

John, in using the words of Isaiah, challenges us that every valley shall be filled and every mountain brought low.  Those valleys or low places in our lives, such as worry or grief or doubt, can be filled with an awareness of the very presence of the living Christ.  The mountains we must deal with in our hearts include pride, prejudice, fear, and selfishness.  When these are brought low, we can see a greater horizon; we can see the way of the Lord. The Gospel also calls for us to make the crooked places straight.  We are challenged to confront those temptations in our lives that will lure us away from God. And we are told to make the rough ways smooth.  This may mean for us to forgive those who have hurt us, to refuse to allow what has happened to you to control your life.  We need to make sure there is enough time for those that we care about.  

As we approach Christmas, let each of us see beyond the clutter of living to the hope that was born so many years ago in Bethlehem.  We, too, can find the way home.  The call is to find a way for God to be in our days and in our hearts. Again, the divine is in the ordinary.

Few are kept from Christ by some great, overpowering evil. They will stand in judgment by God, as we all will. Most fail to see or hear because they are preoccupied with good things, busy at work, acquiring wealth, enjoying entertainment, being comfortable, but not seeking the best.  Advent is the season of unclutter. We are challenged to unclutter our lives to find the living Christ there with us, in us, and calling for us to come and follow now. My prayer for all of us is that we have an uncluttered Advent, a Holy Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year.  AMEN!                    



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