This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent: the beginning of a new year on the Christian calendar. Advent and Christmas are two distinct seasons in the Christian Year, each with its own purpose.
By observing Advent, the church begins the Christian Year by focusing on the promises for the culmination of all things in Jesus Christ. During Christmas season (through the Feast of Epiphany), we join the shepherds in their adoration of the newborn Messiah and Mary and the magi in their contemplation and visceral experience of the implications of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
Advent and Christmas seasons, while distinct in both purpose and tone, function well as one coherent series with a turning point at Christmas Eve.
Each Sunday in our Advent-Christmas season series pursues a key theme identified in the gospel reading for each week. The themes, in order, are Watch, Turn, See, Dream, Peace, Word and Reveal.
Advent Week 1: Watch (Nov. 27 - Matthew 24:36-44) The series begins where Advent begins, with the call of Jesus to his disciples to stay on watch for the fulfillment of all things.
Advent Week 2: Turn (Dec. 4 - Matthew 3:1-12) Becoming aware of the end of the universe as we know it that Christ will bring about, we are invited to repent, to turn from our attachments to the powers of death and destruction in this age, and live out of the Spirit-led mission of the coming reign of God.
Advent Week 3: See (Dec. 11 - Matthew 11:2-11) Once we have turned toward the fulfillment God intends, we begin to be able to see the world and treat others in it in a new way.
Advent Week 4: Dream (Dec. 18 - Matthew 1:18-25) Even as we begin to see God’s way of compassion and mercy, we also– like Joseph – come to acknowledge our reliance on God communicating with us and transforming us, not just in our waking, conscious lives, but in our sleeping, unconscious lives as well.
Christmas Eve: Peace (Dec. 14 - Luke 2:1-20) Whether in dreams or visions of angels, we see and hear and join the chorus of the heavenly host announcing the birth of Jesus as a sign of peace to all people of good will.
Christmas Day: Word (Dec. 25 - John 1:1-14) In a ‘Service of the Word’ today, we contemplate the mystery of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.
Epiphany Sunday: Reveal (Jan. 1 - Matthew 2:1-12) The constellations reveal the birth of Messiah, and the powers of this world are revealed for their self-preservation and violent resistance to the saving work of God.
The promise of this series is to reorient us to our hope in Jesus Christ for the culmination of all things in the age to come, and now in this age to celebrate, contemplate, and join the heavens themselves in declaring Jesus Christ as the hope of the world.
This Thanksgiving, embrace gratefulness and celebrate blessings
Doesn't Thanksgiving lends itself to helping us name the many ways we are blessed? 'An attitude of gratitude' is what we seek to instill in ourselves and in our family members, especially this week.
The following suggestions may enable our families to focus not just on being thankful for the good food of the day, but to also show true gratefulness for the many blessings experienced by our families. Stopping to identify blessings doesn’t mean that life has been easy in the past year. Everyone experiences difficulties and hardships. We can’t ignore the fact that hardships are part of life.
In light of this, at Thanksgiving, reflect together on families all around the world who have left their homes to move to other countries because of war, because of economic issues, or because of instability in their home countries. Many may not have the opportunities that we have: enjoying a family meal, reflecting together on the year, or even having a safe place to live. Yet, they too may be looking at life with an 'attitude of gratitude' ... in spite of finding themselves in new places, with circumstances they didn’t anticipate, or with people they do not know.
This year, consider using one or more of the following suggestions when you observe Thanksgiving in your home or with others.
Happy Thanksgiving from Sealy's First United Methodist Church! May we observe this Thanksgiving, and every day, with open, loving and grateful hearts.
THIS SUNDAY: CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY
This Sunday's worship marks the last Sunday of the Christian year and centers around the theme of ‘Christ the King.’ With the passing of this day, our hearts and minds turn toward Advent, when the Christian worship year begins again. So what of this day we call ‘Christ the King?’ What is God’s good word for those of us who worship this, the last Sunday before we journey to Bethlehem?
Of the four Gospel writers, only Luke records the detailed conversations that took place between our Lord and the two thieves who died with him that day on Calvary. Through Luke, you hear the mocking of the crowd and the derision of the soldiers. But only Luke includes a verse not found in some of our oldest Bibles, the verse that records Jesus saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” At that time, and place, of horrific human suffering, where abandonment meets death, Jesus dies on a rough-hewn cross beneath a darkened sky.
It is here that our Lord, hoisted above the ground and pegged to a cross between two thieves, is enthroned as the forgiving King. It is here, that Jesus, if you please, holds court before a crowd of insulting bystanders and a corps of profane soldiers. Here, that Jesus hangs on a splintered throne, the instrument of his death, with two lost sons of God who stole and murdered their way to Calvary. It is here, that Jesus dies … not so much as ‘King of the Jews,’ ... but as ‘Christ the King,’ full of mercy and love.
As we honor Christ the King on this day, I invite you to remember again with me this: that God offers the power to changes lives and alter history through the power of forgiving love. So, no matter how insensitive another has treated you … or how cruelly you have treated yourself … you are given life in the midst of death … hope in the face of despair … all from our splintered King’s throne. And remember, as we journey through life’s difficulties and joys, we should live with an awareness that no matter what happens to you or others … we live with hope. And in living with hope, we live in Christ’s kingdom.
In matters of faith, we at First United Methodist Church, Sealy put primary reliance on the Bible. In scripture, we understand that we are all God’s children; therefore, we will be a church that cares for the needs of our church and local community through prayer, deeds, inspiration, and love in the spirit of Christ.
Caring for the needs of our church and community through prayer, deeds, inspiration and love in the Spirit of Christ.
Sunday Worship: 8 am & 10 am
Adult & Children & Youth Sunday School 9 am
First Kids Mother's Day Out
(Tuesday & Thursday; 8am to 2pm; Ages 1-3)
Rev Pat Bell, Pastor
First United Methodist Church Sealy
200 Atchison Street
Sealy, Texas 77474