This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in the bright sunshine that greets us this morning (as it did yesterday!), and let us be glad for the shimmering snow that covers the ground and presents us with a magnificent vista on this first day of February. And let us rejoice with our brothers and sisters who enjoy skiing and snowshoeing and snowmobiling, for they are glad for enough snow to indulge their wintertime recreation! It seems as if we’re finally having winter, with crisp, cold air and snow on the ground. While we’re celebrating the joys of the season, let’s keep in mind and prayer those hard-working folks who drive the snowplows that keep our roadways clear and safe; and let’s be mindful of how difficult it can be to drive one of those big rigs, and give them a wide berth.
On the first day of a new month, a fresh start is ours to claim. We’re now a month removed from Christmas and New Year’s, and our eyes are set on Groundhog Day and the upcoming Season of Lent. But something else should be on our planning calendars; FUN!! More specifically, recreation. It’s so easy to get caught up in the endless litany of things to do, to get wrapped up in list after list of tasks and activities that dominate our lives; not too many of us are intentional about putting recreation on those lists, and we should be. Do you remember the old saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” And not to be sexist, “all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl?” There’s a great deal of wisdom in those simple words – we all need to step away from duties and tasks, so that we can be refreshed and strengthened for what is to come next. Even God rested after the work of Creation was finished, so who are we to never take a break? So we urge you to be intentional about adding recreation to your “to do” list, however you define “recreation.” It could be a walk in the snowy woods, an exhilarating run down a ski hill, or a day spent wandering around someplace you haven’t been before, or curling up with a good book or a favorite movie; maybe even a trip to somewhere warm! The point is that each of us needs a bit of break, in each and every day, to let our minds wander and our bodies recover. There’s nothing at all dishonorable or lazy about play, but if that word troubles you, then replace it with RECREATION! And follow the lead of Almighty God, and give yourself a break!!
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in those hard-working men and women who keep our roadways clear and safe, and let us be glad that we’re not in the Downstate area today where 4 to 6 inches of snow are called for – and where schools, churches, and businesses have announced closings in advance of the snowfall. Not to come across as elitist, but 6″ of snow is just a nice dusting for those of us happily living Up North!!
Isn’t it interesting how we respond to an event like a predicted snowstorm very differently, depending on our life histories or where we live? For those of us who are life-long Michiganians, snow is a normal part of winter and we adjust and adapt to it without skipping a beat. For those who grew up, or lived in, the southern regions of our nation, even a 1/4″ of snow can be almost paralyzing. Northern Michigan doesn’t get excited about 6″ of snow, while Metropolitan Detroit can be brought to a complete standstill by the same amount of snow. For people of faith, weather events or tragic events on the world stage don’t phase us; we stop to pray, trusting in God to see us (and the world) through whatever it is that has happened, understanding that we may well have roles to play in bringing about a safe and honorable resolution. One of the most common questions we get is “how do you deal with all the tragedy and pain that people bring to you?” Our response is always “our faith and trust in God.” Believers aren’t exempt from facing tragedy and pain, as we all know; but believers are uniquely equipped to handle whatever comes our way, because we can do all things through him who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). Whether it’s a snowstorm, the loss of a loved one, financial concerns, or simply having a rough day, there’s nothing that we can’t handle, because we walk in faith and trust. God is good, all the time; and all the time, God is good!
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! As we write this message, the skies are cloudy and gray, it’s kinda’ snowy and cold, and the forecast is for colder temperatures and more than a little snow. It’s winter in Northern Michigan, so let us rejoice that the season is progressing as we expect it to, and let us be glad for warm homes, fireplaces, and hot cocoa (with or without “adult reinforcement)!!
Let us also rejoice and be glad for the generosity of so very many people in our area, and around the world, who give so freely of their time, talent, and treasure in support of worthy causes, and in support of one another. Which means that we rejoice and are glad for all of you who are reading these words! While you may not think yourself to be particularly generous, each of you gives in ways large and small to those you know and love, and to those you’ve never met; you simply need to take stock of how you use your gifts. We urge you to not fall into the trap of comparing your giving to what you perceive others are doing; there are people who are able to give huge sums of money, but aren’t able (or willing) to give much of their time. Just as there are people who haven’t a dime to spare, but spend time helping others. And there are people right in between, and maybe that’s you. The point is, we’ve all been blessed in myriad ways by a loving God, and our Christian faith calls us to be a blessing to other. And in so doing, we are blessed once again. To quote St. Francis, “for it is in giving that we receive,” so let us resolve to keep on being generous in whatever ways we can. Amen, and amen.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in fairly mild temperatures for another day or two, and let us be glad that (so far) winter hasn’t been too harsh – unless you enjoy skiing or snowmobiling or snowshoeing. If that’s the case, we sympathize with your frustration over the lack of snow on the ground; our feeling is that if it’s going to be winter, let it be wintery!! Let us also rejoice and be glad for a bit of a respite between the Season of Christmas and the Season of Lent, so that we can finish putting away the Christmas decorations before we start to think about preparing for Easter.
These few weeks before Ash Wednesday are a rare gift in our go-go world; a time of rest. Almost everyone needs a break, a period of time during which our only task is to live, without the pressures of planning and preparing for the next “big thing” in our lives. Think of these days as a kind of extended Sabbath rest, when we can enjoy the company of loved ones, relax with a good book or favorite movie, maybe do a bit of traveling. Think about the words from Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God,” and allow yourself to be enveloped into the love of the Almighty. Of course, you can do this any day of the week, at any time, but how many of us actually make ourselves stop long enough to be still? Consider taking advantage of the next few weeks to put down the remote control, don’t look at your “to do” list, and simply be for a while. You might be surprised at how rejuvenating a few minutes of stillness can be; who knows, you might find yourself craving a bit of stillness every day!
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let rejoice in the new year, and all the promise it holds, and let us rejoice that our celebration of the birth of our Savior continues for a few more days! This coming Thursday is the twelfth day of Christmas, and Friday is the Epiphany of our Lord, the day on which the Magi arrived in Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn Christ. Both of these events are significant, and are worthy of our observance.
The end of the Season of Christmas DOES NOT mean that we should put away Christ when we put away our decorations and holiday sweaters; it means that it’s now time to live into the promise of the arrival of the Son of Man, and make the joy and delight of the season a part of every day of our lives. It means that the four virtues of Advent – hope, peace, joy, and love – should be the foundation upon which we build the new year. The arrival of the Magi, after their long journey, reminds us that the way of the Lord is neither short nor always smooth, but that it’s always worth the effort to travel on the path that leads to righteousness and eternal life. And Epiphany also reminds us that we should be attentive to the voices of angels, who whisper warning and wisdom in our ears, so that we don’t put ourselves (or others) in danger by not heeding their words.
We hope and pray that 2023 is filled with joy, wonder, happiness, and love. God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good!
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in the ongoing celebrations of the Christmas season, and let us be glad that we’re getting a bit of a respite from the deep freeze so that the roads and our driveways can lose some of the ice left over from the pre-Christmas storm!
This is our last email before the New Year, so it seems to us that it might be good to take a look back over the year that was 2022; as is the case with every year, there were wonderful highs and devastating lows. We celebrated marriages and the lives of those who entered the Church Triumphant, breakthroughs in medicine amazed us, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saddened us. We rejoiced in miraculous healings of loved ones, and cried over heartbreaking diagnoses, and prayed hard for God’s right and perfect answers to all of our questions and concerns. We don’t know everything that might have happened in your lives over the course of the year, but we do know that whatever happened, God was (and remains) present to you in it all. And we do know that God will be present in whatever 2023 will bring, if we will invite him to walk through the year with us – and if we’re willing to listen for his still, small voice when we voice our joys and concerns. We’re not really big fans of New Year’s resolutions, but we do make one every year; that in the year that is to be, we resolve to walk with the Almighty every day, in every circumstance. That resolution has served us very well over the years, even when we’ve stumbled and fallen short of the goal (maybe especially then… ), and we invite you to join us in making this New Year’s resolution along with us. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your lives in 2022, and we look forward to sharing 2023 with you in love, hope, joy, and peace.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in coming celebration of the birth of our Savior in only four days, and let us be glad that we will be gathering together to welcome the Christ Child on Christmas Eve at our Candlelight Services at Grand Lake Community Chapel (5:00 p.m.) and Westminster Presbyterian (7:30 p.m.). We’re aware of the potential for a winter storm hitting our area late Thursday through Saturday morning, and we’re monitoring developments so that everybody stays safe. But, it does appear that the worst of the storm will have cleared our area by mid-day on Christmas Eve, so we’re going full speed ahead with our final preparations for a pair of grand celebrations. We look forward to seeing you to share in a service of Lessons & Carols, culminating with the lighting of candles and a hearty “Merry Christmas!”
After four weeks of Advent observances, the day is at hand; are you ready? We’re sure your homes are beautifully decorated, packages are carefully wrapped and placed under the tree, and plans for spending time with family and friends are in place, but is your heart ready? The world writ large will change on Christmas Day, for the better; so will our personal worlds, if we’re truly ready to welcome Emmanuel, God with us, into our very beings. If you don’t feel ready, then you still have four days to set aside your worries and fears, and let the Spirit overtake you and fill your heart and soul with the joy of the Christmas season. Do this, and you will know an incomparable sense of peace and contentment for the rest of your life! Merry Christmas to all, and peace, hope, joy, and love to the whole world!!
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in clear roads (for today, at least!), and let us be glad that the forecast nasty weather for the next couple of days seems to have Presque Isle County just north of the worst of it! That said, here’s hoping for a white Christmas – with clear roads and driveways…
Can you believe that it’s only 11 days until Christmas Day?? This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Advent; where has the time gone? Even if you’re one of those fortunate folks who have all the shopping done, house perfectly decorated, and your outfit for Christmas Eve worship picked out, there’s almost certainly a thing of two that you’ve got to address; one of those things is continuing to prepare the way of the Lord in your heart and soul. Let’s be honest, the process of making ourselves ready for the birth of Christ is a never-ending one. We may feel that we’re all set, and then we encounter a challenge that causes us to stumble in some way; we might lash out in anger at a loved one, we may see a story on the nightly news that causes us to lose hope for tomorrow, or the pressures of a medical worry could toss us into despair. Common, human responses to difficult things. Nothing to beat ourselves up over, rather these are opportunities to turn to The One who makes all things right in the perfect time and in the perfect way, opportunities to let God be God in our lives and making our spirits fertile ground for the Messiah to walk upon. In a very few days from today, we will be able to say “Merry Christmas,” for in a very few days, the Christ Child will come to make all things new. Including us.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Greetings in Christ! This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in the sights and sounds of the season, and let us be glad that we still have 18 days to make ourselves fully ready for the arrival of our Lord and Savior! While admittedly being overdone at times, the twinkling lights and bright ornaments can’t help but put a smile on our faces (even if that smile is accompanied by a shake of our heads). And the happy Christmas tunes that we hear urge us ever-forward in our preparations with a song in our hearts and a spring in our steps. This truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for one, and only one reason, regardless of the tinsel and packages strewn about; Jesus of Nazareth, who will redeem the world and change the course of history, is soon to be born to a young girl in harsh circumstances. Our cherished tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas can be traced back to the Magi bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the Christ Child; and we all (mostly) love searching for the perfect gift for those dear to us, and let’s be honest – we also enjoy receiving gifts! But have we stopped to think about whether or not our gift selections and suggestions are honoring of the One whose birth we are gearing up to celebrate? There’s absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with purchasing a special sweater for a special person or suggesting that we’d love to find a particular item under the tree on Christmas morning, but there’s something very right about making sure that a gift that will honor the Messiah is given at this time of the year. There are countless charities and benevolent organizations that do remarkable things with seemingly modest gifts, so let us gently encourage you to add a gift (or two) to the charity(ies) of your choice this Christmas. You might be amazed at how marvelous you’ll feel!
in everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
Hello, my friends! I LOVE this season of the year spent in Advent and the preparation for Christmas; don’t you?!!! My house smells so good with treats being prepared; and sometimes I even get to take advantage of my families’ fumbles with food! Decorations are appearing; and being the careful, big boy that I am, I now know that those shiny balls hanging from the tree are not toys! I so love ripping open packages, but know that I must wait for Christmas morning, and open only my presents. And while these elements of the holidays are great fun, my heart knows the real joy of the season is found in the Christ child. Jesus changes everything for us with His example, His grace, and His eternal love.
This year I’ve noticed that both churches have wreathes filled with five candles: three blue, one pink, and one white. We light one new candle on each Sunday of Advent; the white one in the center, called the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas Eve representing the birth of Jesus. Each candle has a different meaning, and I’ve decided to use the theme of each Sunday help guide me in my Advent preparation. We remember Jesus’ birth on Christmas, but we also prepare to meet Christ when He comes again.
The First Sunday of Advent is Hope. This year my focus was on the things I hoped for. I hope for treats; I hope for cuddles; I hope for rides in the truck; and I hope for Mom to drop food when she is cooking, but these seem rather selfish hopes when examining my state of readiness for meeting my Savior. This year I focused, instead, on my hopes and good wishes for others—my prayers for them, really. You are in my prayers.
On the Second Sunday of Advent we will light The Candle of Peace. When I seek peace I usually wish to keep other dogs off my sidewalk, squirrels out of my yard, and my people to stop bothering me when I am napping. This year my focus on peace will begin with thanksgiving for how very much God loves and cares for me. I have His support all day, every day—with that kind of gift I can live with true peace.
The Third Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Joy and we light the pink candle. I think of this as my Advent Sunday because I am all about joy. In fact, I wear a joy-meter right where my tail rests! Sometimes it almost flies off from my body because my joy is so extreme! Seeing you, the people I love; going to work with my parents; licking fresh snow; napping by the fire; chasing blowing leaves; and so many other things bring me joy. But you know sometimes opportunities for joy come my way and I miss them. This year I am going to try to be more observant and not miss any joy God sends my way. I’m also going to try hard to bring more joy into the lives of others.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent is the Love Sunday. God’s love is everywhere we turn; especially during Advent and Christmas! Love came down at Christmas as the Baby Jesus. This is a love that gives abundantly on into eternity! Love is shared between us and between me and my family. I want to share love everywhere I go this season! I can share love with a tail wag or a lick or just by sitting near. I can share love by protecting and welcoming. I will even try to warmly greet and love those tall men wearing hats or glasses that so often frighten me! Everyone deserves to be loved.
Dear friends, I wish you buckets of hope, peace, joy and love during this Holy Season. May your Advent journey be meaningful. Know that God loves you, and I do too!
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Pastors will be back next week. The following message is another from Karen’s favorite devotional “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, October 12, 2022.”
October 12, 2022
Beware of seeing yourself through other people’s eyes. There are several dangers to this practice. First of all, it is nearly impossible to discern what others actually think of you. Moreover, their views of you are variable: subject to each viewer’s spiritual, emotional, and physical condition. The major problem with letting others define you is that it borders on idolatry. Your concern to please others dampens your desire to please Me, your Creator.
It is much more real to see yourself through My eyes. My gaze upon you is steady and sure, untainted by sin. Through My eyes you can see yourself as one who is deeply, eternally loved. Rest in My loving gaze, and you will receive deep Peace. Respond to My loving Presence by worshiping Me in spirit and in truth.
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
John 4:23-24 (NLT)23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Wishing you joy and peace in your day! Remember, God’s got this.