2017: A Year in Review

The year is almost over, and 2018 will be here on Monday! It's hard to believe another year has flown by -- but, as they say, time flies when you're having fun. We've certainly been busy this year at RSCC, and today I want to offer a recap of some of what we've accomplished this year. Family Game Nights Youth Mission Trip Ordination of new deacons and a new elder Testimony Month Steps to the Cross (Easter program) Trips to the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter Mother's Day Picnic Vacation Bible School Homecoming and a car and motorcycle show The Community Harvest Walk Thanksgiving meal boxes The Christmas play A new Sunday school class Two baptisms! And on and on and on! Once again we've

Endings

Christmas is over, and the year swiftly draws to a close. Many of you are still recovering from -- or celebrating -- the holiday, but I think we can all agree we have been blessed beyond all imagination this week. Even if we didn't receive a single gift from under the tree, even if our family avoided us, we nevertheless observed the day our Savior was born -- the greatest blessing of all. Now, then, we mark the end of our Christmas parties, pageants, and programs. The season itself may last another nine days after today, but the festivities are now over. Just as Christmas ends, so, too, does our new year. The year 2017 will be over in less than a week; I don't know how to feel about that, ho

Christmas Lists

As a final blog post before Christmas, I present a few things to keep in mind this holiday. Don'ts: don't forget what Christmas is all about don't fling your mashed potatoes at Uncle Bob at dinner don't tell your family's token member of the opposite political party he/she is going to hell; in fact, don't mention anything political at all don't complain about the gift you receive (even if it's socks) don't do your best Grinch impersonation don't sing off-key don't make it about anything or anyone other than Jesus Dos: do eat that second piece of cake do spend time with loved ones do laugh at all the bad jokes do sing carols do read the Christmas story do help someone in need do worship and t

Linus

On Sunday morning, predictably I'll be preaching from Luke 2 -- the Christmas story. I know, I know; you've all heard it read at least once every year of your life. I have, too, but ever since I first saw the Charlie Brown Christmas special years ago, it's always read in Linus' voice in my head. I've always liked Linus. Comics of all sorts have been part of my daily reading as far back as I can remember. My grandparents got me hooked on Peanuts anthologies, and I read every one they had. Linus and I got along instantly, but I think I appreciate him even more as an adult. What other mainstream comic/cartoon character would remind us of the comfort of sound theology, engage in a biblical debat

The Summer of the Soul

Christmas is one week from today. You'll probably have one of three reactions to that news: panic ("I haven't finished my shopping yet!"), relief ("It's almost over!"), or genuine joy ("It's the most wonderful time of the year!"). Different people fall into different categories, but it's difficult to remain truly neutral about Christmas Day. Most of us, I believe and would hope, fall more into the joy response (admittedly after a month or so of panic). We recognize this is a day, a season, to celebrate. Here is something special. Granted, we mark it in not-exactly-biblical ways -- I'm sure even the Wise Men would cringe at the mockery we've made of their gift-giving -- but we still see joy a

Here We Go A-Caroling

Tonight is our church Christmas caroling excursion, and I'm excited. Even if you can't carry a tune in a bucket, it's fun to go around in our community singing Christmas songs. The songs themselves often go unnoticed, so I wanted to give a few of them time to shine today. A quick glance in your hymnal will tell you most of our traditional carols date from 1700 on; they're all fairly new as far as the Church goes. One of the oldest dates to the 1100s: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." Strictly speaking, it's an Advent, not a Christmas, song, but "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel" (its original Latin title) is still a Christmas favorite. (The same "out of season" comment goes for "We Three Kings," except it's m

Peace on Earth

The theme for the second week of Advent is peace, and peace is a wonderful thing. It might be argued we have more peace this week at RSCC than last week -- after all, now the hanging of the greens and the Christmas play are finished, and we can relax a bit. Both events were fantastic, don't get me wrong, but it takes a lot of hard work to put events like those together, and if our musicians and actors are like me, they're ready for a break -- ready for some peace and rest before finishing up our Christmas season. Peace is one of life's necessities. Sure, we talk about the basic physical needs we all have -- food, water, clothing, and shelter -- but rarely do we discuss the mental, emotional,

Mother of God

Since this is one of the few times Protestants will actively discuss Mary, I'm going to take full advantage of it and post about her again today. After all, as a Roman Catholic priest once told me, every statement about Mary is a statement about Christ. Today, then, let's look at one of those statements which can make Protestants, especially evangelicals like us, uncomfortable: the simple phrase "Mary, Mother of God." When the Early Church was discussing such things as the nature of Jesus, they came to understand he was both fully human and fully divine -- and if fully divine, then fully God. That affirmation led to Trinitarianism, our belief God exists eternally as three Persons, Father, So

Blessed Virgin Mary

One of the hardest things for the nonbeliever to accept about Christmas is the virgin birth, that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to the Christ Child. To be fair, many liberal theologians abandoned that belief long ago, too, to the point it became a dividing line in the faith. The Fundamentalist movement of the early twentieth-century listed the virgin birth as one of the "fundamentals" of the faith; if you didn't believe it, you couldn't properly be considered a Christian. Is it really as important as all that? Short answer: yes. Long answer: From Old Testament prophecies to the New Testament gospels, the virgin birth is a crucial piece of doctrine. If Mary were not a virgin, Joseph w

Season of Mercy

With December finally here and Christmas now mere weeks away, I want to talk about some the trappings surrounding our celebration of Nativity. Perhaps the most obvious is the "giving" aspect. Yes, we give Christmas presents to one another, but this is also the time of the year we see the highest levels of charitable giving. My cynical side is sure part of that is for tax purposes, but most of it comes in "the spirit of Christmas." I can think of few better ways to worship than to give to others. As Zechariah says, "This is what the LORD Almighty said: administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do n

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