The Sunday before Christmas and all through the house... okay, couldn't resist it. But there was a great Spirit present at New Hope yesterday. From the initial gathering of people in the fellowship hall for donuts and coffee, through Bible study and into worship, this was a group of people who wanted to spend time together with God and their friends - their family. It's tangible. I LOVE IT!
We keep the worship casual and well known at Christmas, choosing to do carols almost exclusively. One of the things we've learned out of that is that less young people know the carols every year. Pretty sad, really. But without singing them at home or at school, and only singing them a couple times each year at church, it does really constrict our worship. There's nothing like hearing a congregation sing - really sing. So this week we went with:
Joy To the World - awesome opening song to focus us on what we are there for
O Come All Ye Faithful - well known, warm
Away in A Manger - sweet but theologically rich
and Amazing Grace
Taking a look at Mary's amazing act of faith seemed to be exactly what we needed to do during this season. This young woman,when confronted with an angel's message, was understandably afraid and confused. Not about whether God could do this - but about what it might mean. Big difference between her reaction and that of Zechariah the priest who asked "How can I be sure...."
What a faith-filled woman! Loved preaching this because each and every follower of Christ could one day be asked to do something extraordinary for God. Will we be ready? We need to decide now.
I closed the message by reading the Magnificant - Mary's gift to her God. It is pure heart-speak. She praises what God has done for her and for her people, even for things that haven't happened yet, because as far as she's concerned, if God has promised it - it's as good as done.
What are you giving God for Christmas?