Have you ever rented a movie because you heard that one particular scene was incredible? When you sat down to watch it, did you fast-forward through everything that occurs prior to the amazing scene, and then shut it off right after you’d watched it? I doubt it...who does that? You’d miss out on so much! You’d have no context for anything that happened in the scene, and would not have any understanding of the depth and complexity behind the events. We don’t do this because we understand that the writers, producers, directors, and actors have carefully prepared the entire movie for their audience. They have thought through every detail, planning the perfect presentation of that amazing scene as well as a resolution that brings everything together in the end. So, could you say that you’d seen the movie if you’d only watched one scene? No...no you couldn’t.
Now, with this in mind, let’s talk about Christmas. With the hustle and bustle of the season...which is really only four weeks long...it is easy to end up experiencing the holiday much the same way as the movie experience described above. We do think about Jesus’ birth, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, the inn. However, as we stroll (or run frantically) through stores and wrap gifts and deck the halls, our thoughts rarely turn to to Noah...or David...or Rahab...or Joseph. Christmas zooms by, and we collapse on December 26, wondering, “was that IT? Christmas is...just OVER?” And maybe there’s a bit of a let-down...like you’d just watched a thrilling scene...and now it’s done. Maybe it feels like there should’ve been more to it...a lot more.
The thing is...there is.
This story, the story of a good Father who sends His only Son to get His precious ones back, it’s been carefully prepared for you. It is a story that was written long before you or I existed, but with you and I in mind. Every detail on every page has been purposefully crafted. Is it any wonder, then, that if we skip or skim most of it and only jump in at the part where the baby is laid in the manger, we end up feeling like we’ve missed something?
The advent season, the four weeks before Christmas, was always a time of spiritual preparation for my family.
Why would we need to spiritually prepare for Christmas? Simply put: so that we wouldn’t spiritually miss out on the whole thing.
When we’ve spent 4 weeks leading up to Christmas contemplating God’s amazing plan to rescue us, the celebration of the “advent”, or arrival, of the Rescuer Himself is unbelievably rich. There are many wonderful ways to do this. Our family has a “Jesse Tree” that we put up on December 1. The tree is named after David’s father, Jesse...and the name “Jesse” means “man”. As you know, Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man”, which harkens back to prophecy concerning the Messiah...who would be one of David’s descendants (Daniel 7:13-14, Jeremiah 23:5-6).
We read a chunk of scripture each day and hang an ornament that depicts something from that day’s passage. The passages span much of the Bible, so that we get to experience the entire story. The passages also reveal what Jesus’ family was like.
We are reminded of the joy that is ours in being grafted into this family of redeemed sinners; and as we hang the ornaments on the tree, we remember that our adoption into His family was accomplished by Jesus hanging on a tree.
If you’d like to give this a try, here’s a suggested daily reading plan. The passages are suggestions on specific events upon which to meditate for the day. If you find yourself unfamiliar with them or simply wanting more, please read further as your time allows.
The more you read, the greater your experience of Christmas will be. (Order of passages taken from Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift):
December 1: Isaiah 11:1-2, 10
December 2: Genesis 1:1-5, 26-27
December 3: Genesis 3:1-24
December 4: Genesis 6:5-22
December 5: Genesis 12: 1-7
December 6: Genesis 21: 1-7
December 7: Genesis 22:1-2, 6-14
December 8: Genesis 28:10-16
December 9: Genesis 37:3-4, 31-33, 50:15-20
December 10: Deuteronomy 5:1, 5-22, 29
December 11: Joshua 2:1-21
December 12: Ruth 1:1-17
December 13: 1 Samuel 16:1-12
December 14: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
December 15: 1 Kings 18:18-24
December 16: Jonah 1:1-3, 17; 2:10; 3:1-5
December 17: Micah 5:2-5
December 18: Esther 4:10-17
December 19: Habakkuk 2:1; 3:16-19
December 20: Luke 1:6-17
December 21: Matthew 3:1-3
December 22: Luke 1:26-38
December 23: Matthew 1:18-23
December 24: Luke 2:1-7
December 25: Luke 2:11-19
Now, after Christmas is over, I’d invite you to continue reading through to Revelation, and begin your New Year with new perspective on this great big story...because it isn’t over yet. There’s much to look forward to as yearn for the day when our Lord who came back to get us makes all things new.
December 26: Matthew 3:13-17 December 27: Luke 8:1-2, 22-56
December 28: John 19:1-30 December 29: Mark 16
December 30: 1 John (Yes—read the whole book. Take a couple chapters in the morning and a couple at night.)
December 31: Revelation 1:1-3, 5:11-14, 21:1-7
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Men’s Bible Study Fellowship starts THIS Tuesday, September 10 at 6:30pm in the MCC Library. This year they will be studying “Acts and Letters of the Apostles”. BSF provides an in-depth, international Bible study that helps people know God and equips them to effectively serve the Church. Contact Tom Young.
Women’s Community Bible Study begins this week; September 10th and 11th! The evening group meets Tuesdays at 6:30pm in the Fellowship Hall beginning September 10 and the morning group meets Wednesdays at 9:15am beginning September 11! Childcare is provided for the Wednesday study only. Contact Pam Cravens.
The Women’s Peacemaking Study is Thursdays at 10:00am in the Conference Room beginning September 19. This study offers a meaningful, lasting message to lead you out of conflict and into a state of peace where you can live as a representative of Christ to other women and unbelievers. Contact Christine Leggett.
MCC Elders are hosting a 4-week Foundations Class starting September 15. This class is designed to better help you get to know MCC - who we are, what we believe and why, and how to get connected. Please sign up with Sarah.
With winter coming the Wood Ministry is already getting calls requesting wood but we need men, women, and couples to serve as sponsors! For those interested in learning about Wood Ministry sponsorship, there is a training Saturday, October 12th at 9:00am in the conference room. We would love to share what it means to be a sponsor and how sponsorship through the wood ministry changes lives by helping people see their own value and build their own support systems by sharing our time and a few cords of wood. Contact Sarah at the church office.
"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Are you interested in being a witness for Christ in a remote part of the world? Have you wondered if a short-term mission trip is right for you? If so, join us for an informational meeting to discuss our Spring 2020 Bolivia Mission trip with Food for the Hungry next Sunday, September 8th after 2nd service in the Youth Hall. Contact Jennifer Ward.
Sisters in Stitches is meeting Wednesday, September 11 from 1:00 - 3:00 pm in the Fellowship Halll. All SIS and interested women are encouraged to join us to fellowship and discuss on-going plans for this ministry. Snacks will be provided. Contact Davra Clayton for more information and to RSVP .
ABQ Biblical Counseling is hosting "A Biblical Response to Mental Health Conference” September 13-15 at Desert Springs Church. Registrations will be accepted until September 12th! Visit abqbcc.com for more information.