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Welcome to First Christian Church of Orange Come Worship: December 6, 2015, 10 AM
Second Sunday of Advent
Sermon: Prepare the Way!
Scripture: Isaiah 40:3-5, Mark 1:1-3, Luke 3:1-9
Led By: Pastor Dayna Kinkade

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Tuesday, December 1
Scrooge’s nephew debating with Scrooge about keeping Christmas.
"Uncle!" pleaded the nephew.

"Nephew!" returned the uncle, sternly, "keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."

"Keep it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew. "But you don't keep it."

"Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge. "Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!"

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew: "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round-apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!" (402)

Luke 7:43-45
‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

“Okay sweetheart, ready to make some candy cane cookies?” I asked my daughter. “Yes, mama,” she replied. As we made the dough, adding each ingredient slowly so that she could learn to measure and mix to ensure good tasting cookies, she asked, “Why do we add the things we do? I want to pour the ‘nilla and peppermint.” Ah smart girl, she knows, based on smell, what ingredients will make her cookies taste the way she remembers them from the previous year. She also just wants to pour – a favorite activity lately. I remind her that the vanilla evaporates quickly (I’m reaching here as she won’t understand the concept of evaporation for a few more years), and that we should add it last to help our cookies taste their best. Although, truth be told, I’m not really sure that vanilla evaporates more quickly and should be added towards the end of making the cookie dough.

This bit of wisdom was handed down to me from my grandmother to my aunt to me. Since this grandmother passed before I was born it has always helped me feel more connected to a woman I never knew, but heard many wonderful stories about. Yet, as I write this, I wonder if I am being too much like Scrooge? Am I, in my quest to stay connected with my past, not opening myself up to my future? Is my insistence in adding the cookie ingredients in the same order year after year teaching my daughter to not experiment? Or that one day she shouldn’t tinker with the recipe if she thinks she can improve it? I think this year that we might try adding the vanilla and peppermint first…. Or we might change the flavor all together.

In the verse for today, from Luke, Jesus is recognized and worshiped by a stranger in a way that those who travel with Him and presumably know Him best do not. I invite you to see Jesus in new ways this advent season. Maybe not as just celebrating the birth of the savior or celebrating a man who challenged each of us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but to celebrate Jesus for taking us out of our comfort zone and challenging us to view the world differently from our previous views.

Please pray with me. Oh Lord, as we move through the season of advent, please help me to remember that each moment is special. Each moment leads to the birth of Jesus, whether I experience and celebrate it the way I always have, or whether I experience and celebrate it in a new way, or from someone else’s perspective. Amen.

-Erin Cooper
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7 hours ago  ·  

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Advent 2015-Preparing the Heart

Monday, November 30
Scrooge’s employee, Bob Cratchit
The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed. (400)

Luke 18:10-14
10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The passage and the story from A Christmas Carol bring to light the trap of being judgmental that so many modern day Christians, and in fact, a great deal of traditional American culture falls into - those who are doing well financially themselves, crediting this success to their own hard work, while looking upon the poor as being in that state because they are lazy, immoral, or undisciplined, and hence undeserving of help. This causes people to become callous and cold hearted and reject giving to the poor or treating those less well off unjustly; it could be a waitress not receiving a fair tip, an employee not getting a deserved raise, bonus, or time off, a young person being exploited for a low wage, and of course the poor and homeless not being fed, sheltered and clothed. If we are doing well and hold ourselves up to be better than those around us, crediting only our work or character and not giving God credit for his blessings, we become self-righteous like the Pharisee, we then believe others are undeserving, and we turn our backs on them. We must remember our own luck and fortune, the difficulties and misfortunes others face, we must we remember that we all are sinners, and all imperfect, and that whatever the reason a person might be poor or homeless, whether it be tragedy coming upon them or their own weakness, they are always deserving of help from those better off. Let us not be self-righteous and prideful of our own accomplishment and financial success and use that to turn our backs on others. Instead, let us give generously to all those who have less than us, for God says we should even give to our enemies, Proverbs 25:21 "If your enemy is hungry, give him some food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him some water to drink".

Lord, during this season of Advent, let us remember that all blessings and riches flow from you and not from our own righteousness, and that you love all creation and all are your children, and all our own brothers and sisters, and let us not be high minded in judgement of who may be deserving, let us give generously to all who are in need" Amen.

-Charles G. Geller
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1st Sunday of Advent – November 29
Ebenezer Scrooge described
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner. Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. (398)

Matthew 13:15-16
15For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’ 16But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Now that is quite a description of Scrooge. Even if you haven’t seen “A Christmas Carol” I think you can now visualize the man. Some might say he was a heartless hardened man, indifferent to all. Take a few minutes and put Ebenezer in your life today. Have you ever met a person like him? Do you have any of his characteristics? How do you treat the homeless? These are just a few questions I am asking myself today. Often we get caught up in the retail hype and forget the true meaning of Christmas. Let us make it a goal to not forget this year. Did you know that Ebenezer means “The Lord is my help”? Remember the Lord is with you always! Let us open our eyes, ears and heart to all the possibilities of Christmas! Peace be with you.

Lord, Let us be open to Your Word as we begin this Advent Season. Amen

-Vickie Burch
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2 days ago  ·  

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