The Annunciation, Rossetti (1850)

Greetings, favored one!  -Luke 1:28

The words of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary at the announcement (the annunciation) to Mary that she would bear a child and his name would be Jesus, son of the most high. Mary was favored by God to create in her womb a place for the creator of the world’s only Son; favored by God to create a nurturing home for an infant, favored by God to create a home life suitable for God himself. Stories in the New Testament show Jesus pointing to you and me over and over again and in essence saying, you too are favored ones! In John 15 Jesus says, “You did not choose me, I first chose you.” That sounds like being favored to me! What does being favored mean to you? Can it create a stir within us to prepare a place in our hearts for the Christ child? Are we moved by our favored status to prepare our lives suitable for Jesus to live within them? Can Jesus live and grow with us in our households as he did in the home of Mary and Joseph? Then the angel Gabriel said, “The Lord is with you.” And I say, “Also with you.”

Christmas in Nairobi

I found this to be the most touching devotional article, especially in light of the fact that our Childrens’ Christmas Program is tomorrow (December 11, 10:30 am).

Even halfway around the world, we aren’t so different…are we?

Holy God, congreations have many ways of telling your story at Christmas. May every people in your world join voices and hearts together in this holy time of year.  Amen.


When we start something new we usually begin by counting our resources.  Do you recall the line in the movie The Princess Bride when Inigo Montoya, Westley and Vizzini had to reassess their plans to save the princess because of Inigo’s paralyzed condition?    Facing huge odds and in need a new rescue plan Inigo said to Vizzini, “We must first list our resources, my brains, your brawn, and his wit.”

This is typical for any new beginning, to start by listing the resources we have to work with.

St. Mark’s claim to the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ begins differently, however.  St. Mark’s view of this new beginning calls for a coming to repentance.  To turn from our old ways, as if to say don’t rely on your known resources, this is something very new.  So new, that when you come you must turn away from all you have and know with a willingness to follow “the one who is more powerful than I who is coming after me… and he will baptize (begin anew for you) with the Holy Spirit.”

This new beginning is a call to turn away from our known resources and trust in different resources that come from God by the Holy Spirit.

In many ways we are a paralyzed people; paralyzed by fear, hopelessness, poverty, and injustice.  But this is nothing new, the people from all of Judea and Jerusalem were similarly paralyzed and yet when they heard this crazy word of a new beginning coming from the wilderness, they ALL went with a willingness to turn away from their known resources toward a faith in something unseen.

How are we blinded by our dependence on the resources we have?

How might we turn away from things we depend upon to rely (instead) on a renewed faith?

December 2011 Calendar Posted

[Forgot to tell you I scanned this in–and it was ahead of time for once!]
See green tab listed “calendar” to view and/or print.

Even though it is a busy month for many families and individuals, we as a church staff pray that worship and church events are a source of renewal and joy. -pastorhh & pastorcl