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!