North Side Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
“A Church Without Walls”
“An Oasis for the Spiritually Thirsty”
“NEW LOCATION “
275 N 115th Street
Join us at 10:00 AM
ALL are WELCOME – no matter where you are on your spiritual journey —
North Side Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a safe place to question, examine, and study ones spiritual journey. All paths to the Creator are welcome, celebrated, shared and included.
December 22, 2019 ADVENT 4
Gift of LOVE
DECEMBER 24, 2019 6:30 pm
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE –
The A B Cs of Christmas
WHEN IS ADVENT? Something that many people do not know is that technically, the beginning of Advent is the beginning of the liturgical New Year.
Advent starts on Advent Sunday, which is always the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. Depending on which day of the week Christmas falls on, Advent Sunday falls either at the beginning of December or in late November.
WHAT DO YOU DO DURING ADVENT?
In the medieval era, Advent was celebrated very much like the season of Lent: with fasting, and then a huge feast and celebration at the end.
It was considered to be a very serious time of year, and the first two weeks were almost like mourning. By the third week, Gaudete (which means “rejoice” in Latin) Sunday was celebrated, and Christians could begin to be more cheerful with the expectation of Christmas.
One of Advent’s most prominent symbols is the candles lit at the beginning of each week. There are 3 purple or blue candles and one pink or rose candle – four total with one for each week.
A fifth white candle may be added to be lit on Christmas day. Purple is a color often used in Christian traditions to emphasize penitence, fasting, and preparation. It is also used during the season of Lent. The pink candle is most often used on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday; although, some traditions light it on the final Sunday of Advent.
During the service at the beginning –a special ceremony is performed to light that week’s candle. The candles’ fires burn during each service so that by the end of Advent, all of the candles’ lights shines.
Read more at World Religion News: “What is Advent and What Does it Mean to Christmas?” https://www.worldreligionnews.com
The first week of Advent is all about hope.
Think about hope as you hear Lamentations 3: 21-24:
“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in the Lord.”
One purple candle is lit.
Gracious God, As the Advent season begins, we cry out to you. We come to you looking for hope. When everything else we rely on fails us, our only hope is in you. When we do not understand what has happened, we hope in you. We can hope for better days because we trust you. We know you and we know you are here with us no matter what we are facing. Some of us see only darkness this time of year. Some of us find life overwhelming. Some of us are filled with Advent joy. Wherever we find ourselves today, Loving God, remind us that our hope is in you. Be with us on this journey. Amen.
For the second week in Advent, we focus on peace.
In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Two purple candles are lit.
Prince of Peace, reveal yourself to us today. We need peace in our lives, our homes, our families, our church, and our whole world. Help us to slow down and seek out the peace you provide, so we may become peacemakers for ourselves and others. In your name, Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen.
During the third week in Advent, we spend time thinking about joy.
From Psalm 5:11, we hear these words,
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you.”
Two purple candles and one pink candle are lit.
Too often, we think joy is something big, O God. A brass band or a parade can certainly bring us joy. Just as easily and far more often, we can feel joy in a hug or the squeeze of hand, we can see joy in a smile or hear it in laughter. Help us to not overlook the simple joys that peak into our lives daily. This week in our Advent journey, open our eyes to the joy that surrounds us. Amen.
In this final week of Advent, our attention is on love. The following Scripture verses may sound very familiar, so we will hear them twice. The first time is in the New Revised Standard Version. The second time you’ll be reading from the Message. Listen for the call to love in these words.
Matthew 22:36-40 says, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
”Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Three purple candles and one pink candle are lit.
God, we have learned to love from being loved by you. And so today, let us enact that love. Let us live that love. We know that what the world needs now is more love. We need to remember how much you love each one of us and we must share that love with others. Amen.
Merry Christmas! Today is the day we have been preparing for throughout Advent. Jesus is born. Here is the story as recorded in Luke’s Gospel.
“ In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.”
All five candles are lit.
We have been waiting for this day, Loving God. We have prepared ourselves for this special day. On this Christmas Day, let us live as those who let hope, peace, joy, and love reign in our lives. As the candles burn brightly and light our path, let us live as those who have the Christ’s light burning inside us today and everyday. Amen.
The Weight Of a Snowflake
A Spiritual Archives Story from All-Creatures.org
The Weight Of a Snowflake
By Joseph Jaworski
“Tell me the weight of a snowflake”, said the robin to the dove.
“Why, it weighs nothing at all,” replied the dove.
“In that case,” the robin went on, “I must tell you a marvelous story. I was sitting on a branch of a fir tree, close to its trunk,” the robin began, “when snow began to fall…not heavily, not in a raging blizzard, no just like a dream without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the needles and twigs of my branch. I reached the number 3,741,952. Then when the 3,741,953 snowflake dropped onto the branch weighing nothing as you say, the branch suddenly broke off.”
With that the robin flew away.
The dove thought about the story and said to herself, “I sometimes think that all my efforts and the little I can do make no difference. We might think they are nothing at all, but if we put all our efforts together, great things are possible.”
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“God is not a Christian,
God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.”
Bishop John Shelby Spong
Not only do the usual answers fail, they don’t support the truth God loves everyone all the time. God Can’t gives a believable answer to why a good and powerful God doesn’t prevent evil.
Author Thomas Jay Oord says God’s love is inherently uncontrolling. God loves everyone and everything, so God can’t control anyone or anything. This means God cannot prevent evil singlehandedly. God can’t stop evildoers, whether human, animal, organism, or inanimate objects and forces.
In God Can’t, Oord gives a plausible reason why some are healed but many others are not.
Mindful Christianity revels how mindfulness has manifested among Christians from the days of Jesus until now. It allures the reader to integrate it into every aspect of Christian living: prayer, worship, study, and service. And it shows how mindful Christian practice can lead to a humbler, kinder, livelier, more inclusive and common-sense form of the faith. It is structured for use as a program resource for churches, retreats, campus ministries, and other groups. Additional information can be found at MindfulChristianity.org
About the Author
Jim Burklo is the Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California. He is a cofounder of Mindful.USC.edu – a campus-wide initiative that trains over 800 students and staff annually in mindfulness practice. An ordained United Church of Christ pastor, he is the author of five books and writes for ProgressiveChristianity,org, Progressive Christians Uniting, Huffington Post, and many other websites. His weekly blog, Musings, is read by progressive Christians globally.
“Saving Jesus From the Church” by Robin R. Meyers
The marriage of bad theology and hypocritical behavior by the church has eroded our spiritual lives.
Taking the best of biblical scholarship, Meyers recasts core Christian concepts in an effort to save Christianity from its obsession with personal salvation.
Not a plea to try something brand new, but rather the recovery of something very old, Saving Jesus from the Church shows us what it means to follow Jesus’s teachings today. He eloquently points out that many of today’s Christians are silent on matters about which Jesus spoke, whereas on matters about which he was silent, they condemn (p.177).
“No Ordinary Time: the Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and Evolutionary Creativity” by Jan Phillips
“Eternal Life: a New Vision” by John Shelby Spong
Drawing on a lifetime of wisdom, New York Times bestselling author and controversial religious leader John Shelby Spong continues to challenge traditional Christian theology in Eternal Life: A New Vision. In this remarkable spiritual autobiography about his lifelong struggle with the questions of God and death, he reveals how he ultimately came to believe in eternal life.
“Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart. by Dr. Alan Wolfelt
—Prescription Medicine Bottles
The Nebraska Humane Society needs used prescription medicine bottles for animal prescription medicines.
NSCC is collecting these bottles and Jeff said he would remove the labels. If we want to remove the labels ourselves, just immerse the bottles in hot/warm water for thirty minutes and peel the printed portion of the label away. The paper/adhesive remaining will be covered with a new label at the Humane Society.
Minister – Rev. E. Susan Ellis, M.Div.
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