This year is passing by quickly and 2020 will be remembered as the year of changes. The Corona Virus has left most of us in the world very different than we were in 2019. In 2019 most of us, never wore a mask, did not even know what social distancing was, and never imagined being unable to come to church. So many things have changed so we seem to be more accustom to change. As your pastor, I never imagined not having Mother’s Day, Easter, children and youth camps or VBS. As you know we had to change Pumpkin Patch, cancel the Thanksgiving meal and right around the corner the Bethlehem Experience will also need to be different.
While it is only November, Bethlehem is being prepared for right now. Bethlehem will be the first week in December but it must look different than it has in the past. Like Pumpkin Patch, rather than having a great number of people in a small area, it will be viewed as a drive thru experience. While this is not what I wanted, it is the best thing for this year. At first, I could not see how Bethlehem could work this way. I tried to figure out another way to have people come and truly experience the birth of Christ. As many of you know, my dream was to make this a family’s annual activity at Christmas-so how could God allow this to happen?
The reality is I was focused on what I wanted. I was focused on me. The reality is this is not about me or even our church. It is about reaching someone for Christ, that we may know or even someone we don’t know. It is about being not on my side, but being on God’s side. As I preached a sermon on just that, I realized God’s plans are not my plans. My plans need to be in line with God’s plan-not the other way around. In Isaiah 55 the Bible says:
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 " As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
The Bible tells us that God can see beyond what I can see. I can remember the first time I was in an airplane looking down and seeing the land at its different elevations and the way the fields and roads look so much different than they looked on the ground. While God’s vision is not merely visual, his vision is greater than we can imagine. God’s ways are not our ways. I can’t imagine how having Bethlehem being a “drive through experience” can be better than the way we have always done it, but I have to trust that God has a plan in all of this. After all if the one that sends the rain to water the earth, (which I have never done) or make the flowers bud (which I too have never done) then I guess I can trust his plan is better than what I can imagine. The last part of this passage also comforts me in t hat the entire point of Bethlehem is to share the story with those who have never heard it. But we can rejoice and know that all the work, effort and planning is not a waste of time. God says that his word will not return empty. His word will accomplish what He desires and achieve His purposes.
As we approach the Bethlehem Experience, I want you to realize the goal has not changed. The need for you to participate has not changed. The God who we serve has not changed. The need for the story of the birth of Christ has not changed. So let’s get ready to see God do something AMAZING!
What bible character do you feel you identify with the most? I think for me it would have to be Moses. At least Moses during the time of his life when God called him and he basically said, "God, are you sure? Really??"
I can completely relate to Moses' lack of self-confidence...something that could even be construed as a lack of faith. I can believe God can do anything in YOU. But for some reason, I lose confidence in God when He starts talking about doing things in ME. Like Moses, I can tell you all the reasons I would not be right for the job. But I have a hard time believing God can make me into anything that is absolutely right for the job. Self-doubt and truthfully, fear have been a part of my life for as long as I remember.
Thankfully, God didn't give up on Moses and He's not giving up on me, or you either! Thankfully, a guy named Paul came along and in spite of his larger-than-life personality he too struggled with weakness. In fact, he wrote to the Corinthians, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Yes, thankfully, I serve a God full of compassion, who loves me in spite of my weaknesses and promises to continue working on me through doubt and fear to make me more like Him. I'm so glad God's grace is great enough for Him to continue using me to accomplish His purpose, just as he used Moses!
Cold weather is here, which means soon it will be Christmas. I love this time of year, from the weather to the gatherings (at a safe social distance, of course) to the music and of course, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No matter where you are this time of year, you cannot escape the Christmas music. It’s playing at the grocery store, the department store, the mall, the radio and yes, soon you will begin to hear it in our church.
The choir is excited to be sharing with you our Christmas Cantata for this season, entitled “Noel! Born is the King!” The word 'Noel' is derived from the French phrase "Les bonnes nouvelles" meaning "the good news.”
The musical will include many Christmas favorites, such as The First Noel, What Child is This, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and a modern hymn called Noel, by Chris Tomlin. Noel has grown to be our favorite song of the Cantata. Here’s the chorus:
Come and see what God has done
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us,
This chorus sums up the message of Christmas. Good news has come in the form of a baby. This baby grows up to be the light of the world, Jesus Christ. His amazing story of love becomes our story, as we accept Him into our hearts and live a life fully dedicated to serving Him.
We will be performing our Christmas Cantata, “Noel! Born is the King!” on Sunday, December 6th, at 8:15 am and 10:45 am. We hope to see you there.
Please stop by our Church Library in the Dorcas classroom and see the books that were added to the collection over the summer. There are about 65 of them! Thank you very much to those who donated. There is a list of the new books in the purple folder on the desk and “New to Our Library” bookmarks in the books on the shelves. To check out a book, just enter the date, book title and your name in the spiral notebook on the desk.