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Advent: Hope

Today we remember the prophets of old as we read from Isaiah, a prophet among many who demanded to be heard, who dared to speak of a child to come – the unexpected liberator of the people, the vulnerable incarnation of our God, the redeemer of the world. Hear now from the book of Isaiah 9:6-7

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

On this first Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of hope, and remember the prophets who, by faith, held onto hope for a day when the long awaited Messiah would appear.

Lord, We give thanks for the prophets among us, who bring to us surprising new visions of hope, who challenge us to think outside the box, who show us a future we never anticipated. This Advent Season with hopeful anticipation, we look forward to the arrival of Christ, “the Word became flesh and lived among us,” the light of the world who overcame darkness. Help us to bear Your light, so that the world may know of Your great love.


For What Do We Give Thanks?

A Reflection for the Week of Thanksgiving

“What are you thankful for?” It’s a question that we often ask this week as we gather around Thanksgiving tables, though they may look quite a bit different this year. I was asked this question a few weeks ago during the recording of an episode of our podcast at the main Lovers Lane campus, “Out on a Limb: A Lovers Lane Podcast.” You can listen now wherever you get your podcasts! As you’ll hear in the episode, I said that I was thankful for the ways God was moving here at 723.

As I think about that question now, although I am still deeply thankful for the new worshipping community that is growing at 723, the answer moves to a different perspective. In a year of loss and disappointment, it can be a great challenge to dig up thankfulness. I think of my own family, who this year lost both of our grandparents and will be entering our first holiday season without them. While we grieve this loss, I find that I am still so thankful for the fact that I grew up with my grandparents in the same city, attending all of my plays, musicals, church choir performances, birthdays, graduations, etc. You name any event and my grandparents were there; what a beautiful gift that was in my life! In the midst of loss, we can still look upon the great blessings God has given us and be thankful. If I may, I offer this word to you. Although this year has challenged us in ways we could not have anticipated, we know even still, “that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NRSV). Even in the midst of  seasons of grief or joy, we remember the great work that God began in us, that we are claimed and called by God to love ALL people into relationship with Jesus Christ. What an incredible blessing, that the God who created the entire universe also created you and me, and simply asks us to do all things in love, just as Christ loved us. For that, we are thankful. Amen.


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