It’s Christmas Week! And I want to actually encourage you to have TWO Christmas experiences this year. And no, I don’t mean wake up in your home and open gifts Monday morning and then head to grandmas to open gifts Monday night. You can do that if you want but that’s not what I mean.
Christmas 1) Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm....I love Christmas for a variety of reasons, and the music, movies, decorations, traditions, worship, candles...are all a part of that. So please make it a point to take in the tranquility, have some calm and holy moments, come to the SPV Sunday morning for our regular worship service and then at 6pm for Carols & Candles, and then sit next to your fake Florida fireplace with a cup of coffee or tea... giving yourself time to think, meditate, read the story, worship, and give thanks.
Christmas 2) Give yourself some time to consider the implications of this revolutionary baby being born to turn the world upside down: “...he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things...” Christmas might have a lot to do with tradition but the Incarnation (Immanuel, God With Us) is definitely not about the status quo but rather about shaking things up, righting wrongs, and enacting justice. Consider how the Lord might want to “fill you with the spirit of Christmas” to address some wrongs or injustices around you, or to topple systems of oppression. And if your response is “who me?” then consider the 13 year old Jewish girl given a similar invitation and responded with: “sure God, all things are possible with you, whatever you want, I’ll do it!”
Merry Christmas (both ways),
This weeks email is written by SPV staff member, Stacy Henderlong.
Hello SPV Family!
Back in the late 80's Nike coined the "Just Do It" slogan. And in the last several years we've seen a lot of "Be the change you want to see" often attributed to Ghandi. And in our own Vineyard movement, we tote the phrase "Everybody gets to play" as being a key part of how we do church.
During Advent we take the time to reflect on the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love that Jesus brings to the world. However, I feel like sometimes we get caught up in the waiting and the longing for the return of Jesus that we forget that he showed us how and called us to be like him NOW. That we need to BE THE HOPE to a world that is hurting - right now. To BRING PEACE to a world that is full of war - right now. To SPREAD JOY when our world is sad - right now. And to BE LOVE to a world full of hate - right now. It's all fine & good to "wait & pray" or send good thoughts, but don't just wait for Jesus to do it because he has called & equipped YOU to be the change. There is plenty for us to do - to BE Jesus - RIGHT NOW!
Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love to you all,
Hello SPVers and Happy December!
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, am I right? Well for all of you Christmas junkies out there, how well do you think you’d do with a Christmas quiz? Are you able to keep straight in your mind what the scriptures say from some of the songs/carols we sing or does it get all mixed together? For example, how many shepherds were there? Were the shepherds following the star as well or just the Magi? Was it really a “cold and winter’s night” in December? And do we really believe the lyric “no crying he makes” from the popular Christmas Carol “Away in a Manger”? And I’m more than a little disappointed in Bono for participating in a song that implies Africans don’t know about Christmas or that it doesn’t snow or rain in Africa. He should know better.
So if you’re like me, resist the urge in becoming a Christmas version of a “get off my lawn guy” where you nitpick every last detail. Being a critic is awesome if you get paid to tell people your opinion about movies and restaurants, but it’s hard to worship and think about Jesus if we overly obsessed with every detail. But by all means, have some friendly banter about what is the best Christmas movie or song and if Die Hard is or isn’t a Christmas movie. Just don’t let it get in the way of enjoying the richness and wonder of what Immanuel, God With Us, is all about.
And one way to maximize that experience is to join us each week for our Inbreaking Christmas series each Sunday morning and to lock 6pm on December 24th into your calendar for our Carols and Candles Christmas Eve Service.
Looking forward to experiencing the season with you all,
This weeks SPV email is written by Kid City Children's Pastor Amy Coyle.
"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." - The Man In Black (Princess Bride, 1987)
As we grew, most of our parents did their best to shield us from the harshness of the world. They made us wear knee pads and helmets, had us call "when we got there", and implemented curfews. They also told us not to talk to strangers and encouraged us to make good friends.
They wanted us to be safe; physically, as well as emotionally.
But for all of us, at one point or another, pain won and all the helmets and phone calls home couldn't undo what had happened.
I'm fully convinced that trauma and disappointment are unavoidable and inevitable. If you trust others, the potential for betrayal is there. If you open your heart, the risk of heartbreak is there. If you jump out of a plane...ok you get my point.
The strange thing is that without that possibility of danger or pain, the beauty of life would dull significantly. Trust is valuable because it's rare. Love is magical because heartbreak is all around us. And if skydiving were 100% safe, it would be just another way to work.
The even stranger thing is that in these moments of pain, we often turn to God; not for help, but for meaning. "Why did you let that happen, God?" "Why can't I find work?" "Why did they have to die?"
Each of us is the artist of our lives. Getting mad at God when life doesn't go as planned is a lot like yelling at the art supply store that your painting doesn't look right. It might feel good, but it doesn't change a whole lot. And complaining or continuing in unhealthy cycles is a lot like an artist blaming his paint and brush.
You've been given the tools (the skills, character, and opportunity), the knowledge (your past), and the blank canvas (your life). Yes, life is painful and messy and difficult sometimes, even a lot of the time. But it's worth it! And the messiness of life doesn't mean it's not beautiful.
If you don't believe me, just try comparing the value of one of those Paint-by-Numbers to a Jackson Pollock.
You are the artist. Go paint!
Happy Thanksgiving SPV family!
As I said a couple of weeks ago, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who get excited for Christmas prior to Thanksgiving and those who refuse to even acknowledge Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. I’m not here to choose sides, although I will admit to listening to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” in the car the other day. But for me it doesn’t matter whether you are an obnoxious Christmas junkie like Buddy the Elf or borderline Scrooge material leading up to Thanksgiving. The important thing is that you approach Christmas and Advent in particular with a sense of anticipation and excitement. So if you need to wait a couple more days, feel free to do so, just make sure that you allow yourself to genuinely take in the meaning and wonder of it all. And if you’re already “all in” on the decorations, music, tree, and ugly sweaters, just make sure you pull it back to let the story speak to you and capture your heart all over again.
I hope you’ll join us for our Advent series “Inbreaking” throughout the month of December and even invite some friends to get caught up in the wonder of it all as well.
Much love, Happy Thanksgiving (& Merry Christmas to those of you who have already started),
Hey there, SPV Family!
I used to be the anti-Halloween guy (think Scrooge making an appearance in late October). I think the two main reasons for that 20 years ago were 1) an overly heightened view of spirituality and thinking that demons existed in every corner and 2) I was just too dang serious.
And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.“ Matthew 18.3
I love that Jesus gives us a healthy reminder to “check ourselves” and to make sure our heart and attitude are consistent with the kingdom and what is it that brings us in line with the kingdom? Child-likeness. If we start to become so stinking spiritual that we can’t have a little bit of fun or celebrate creativity in costumes, or can’t relax long enough to indulge in a piece of candy, or are so skeptical and cynical we lack the ability to believe in mystery and miracles, then I think meditating on these words of Jesus would be a good idea.
Want some help in becoming like a child and getting closer to the kingdom? Write on your connect card this Sunday (or hit “reply” to this email right now and volunteer to serve in Kid City or the nursery once a month. Laugh a little (or a lot). Don’t be so easily offended. Share/be generous. Make friends easily (show up to church early and get to know someone)....
And while I’m at it, I want to give a huge thank you to Stacy Henderlong (& Brian) and all the volunteers who helped us as a church get a little taste of the kingdom via the block party last night, and I believe showed our neighbors a taste of it as well. Well done peeps, well done.
Much love to you all,
"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
That is one of my all-time favorite movie lines from The Shawshank Redemption. And no, we're not on the God in Film series any longer, but this Sunday we are starting our Hope in a House of Blues series and I "hope" (see what I did there?) you'll not only make it a point to be present for every service, but will make an extra effort to invite some friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to join you. Kelly and the team have been working overtime to bring some legit Blues elements to our music this month and my good friend Crispin Schroeder is joining us again next weekend. Can you recall a time when we were more in need of some HOPE than we are right now? So come for the Blues music or the messages of HOPE or even for the coffee and doughnuts, but come each week none the less and I fully believe it will be a very solid investment of your time. HOPE to see you all this Sunday.
Much love to you all,
If you are anything like me you get a little tired of the seemingly daily (even hourly) onslaught of bad/sad news. Between the politics, natural disasters, racism, protests, boycotts, corruption...it's enough sometimes to make me want to buy a small cabin off the grid, out in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes I think things just keep getting worse and worse and then I remember that Jesus entered a time far worse than this. Government corruption and totalitarianism was through the roof and crucifixion was a daily occurrence without any sort of trial or due process. And racism was rampant. The Romans hated the Jews and the Jews hated the Romans. The various Jewish sects fought and argued constantly, struggling to get along even though they were on the "same side", and Rome was still invading countries to conquer, killing anyone who would oppose them. And yet this is the very context and backdrop Jesus announced and demonstrated the good news of the kingdom. My point is this: if the good news of the Kingdom was relevant then, it's every bit as relevant now. This kingdom is a counter cultural movement calling people out from the hatred, bondage, gossip, slander, backbiting, violent, prejudice, self serving...ways of the world's system into something that is loving and beautiful and healing and kind and compassionate and welcoming and self sacrificial and...I think it's important to choose daily to be participants of this divine kingdom rather than follow the currents and drama of the world. Choose Jesus, choose the kingdom, choose love, choose joy, choose faith.
Much love to you all,
If you’ve been hanging around the Vineyard or reading the weekly emails for any length of time, you probably notice a recurring theme. It’s not about reading your bible more, praying longer, going to every small group we offer, managing sin in your life, or making sure not to miss Sunday morning service. It’s something much more simple, and can be one of the more difficult things to do, and that is
I know Pastor Chris gets asked a lot why he’s always preaching on love – but it really is the key to living a Christ-filled life. I touched on this briefly last Sunday during communion that Jesus came to show us the way of love. It was at the forefront of his message and calling. He showed us how to stand up to those oppressing others and to help and care for those who are being oppressed. He didn’t come inciting hate and violence. Instead, he came in peace and love – to all.
Before we come together this weekend, take some time to consider those of us in our own church family that might be different from you in some way. Maybe it’s their skin color or ethnicity, age, political leanings, how they dress, style of worship, what they do or don’t eat --- whatever it is --- we are all different. Let’s choose to celebrate our differences, stand against hate and oppression, and just
In peace & love,
Hola SPV family!
I hope you're all doing well in the midst of your trials and victories as you walk out this journey. Did you get easily offended this past week? I talk a lot about love but I never said I do it all that well! LOL. One thing I love about the Scriptures is that it never sugarcoats how difficult this journey of following Jesus can be. Even Paul, who is considered to be one of the "heroes" of our faith acknowledged his struggle in Romans 7.19: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing."
Paul admits that he is in a battle to do the very things that he knows he should do and I, for one appreciate that sort of honesty. But I also appreciate the fact that he gives us some encouragement to move forward and not just accept the discouragement and defeat, but that God has provided us with help and given us a remedy. “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 7:24-25, 8.2
We can have all the best of intentions and be super disciplined, but I personally believe that only the work of the Spirit can properly empower and sustain us on this journey. So if you're struggling to love others, the answer isn't to try to love more/better but to be filled with and led by the Spirit! I hope that is encouraging to you.
I hope to see you all this Sunday as we continue our God in Film series with the movie Hidden Figures.
Much love to you all,
Pastor Chris Cahall
Chris loves Jesus & despises religion. Journey with him to dig a little deeper into your faith.