Talks from 16 December

David…..

We have just sung our advent hymn – three verses for the third Sunday in Advent.     You probably noticed, and possibly puzzled over the fact we sang these three verses last week as well.   That was because last week James in his sermon touched on the theme of John the Baptist, so we thought it relevant to include the verse that celebrates his ministry.

John the Baptiser – he is a key figure in the Gospel – preaching “Prepare the Way”

A strange character – dressed eccentrically in camel’s hair, a diet – obscure and challenging to even the most fervent dietician, and a message to challenge all levels of society – from local workers – to the religious leaders, the politicians right up, or some might say down to, the scandalous immorality of the court of Herod, the King.    A fierce man – Not a man who minced his words.

Repent, repent and repent, turn back from your sin and rebellion – that is his message – get ready, for God is coming – He is about to do something radical, amazing and life changing, world changing – revolutionary.

John was the bridge for the Jews – he lived and acted and spoke like an old testament prophet – he was likened to Elijah – but he was there to herald the arrival of a new way – a new way of God speaking to his people, a new way of God relating to his creation, a new way of God forgiving his people.

John links all the history of the Hebrews – from Abraham through to Jesus – and proclaims – Now is the time – the Messiah is come – and I am not worthy to untie his sandals.

Prepare yourselves, for the Saviour of the world is coming. Prepare yourselves, for the Saviour of the world is coming…

And how does He come – in the most unthreatening form possible – a baby in a cot of hay.   You could pick Him up and hold him, you could dandle him on your Knee, you could make funny faces to him – a baby.

A baby – a vulnerable child in a strange country, born to a young mother far from home with her new husband.

That is our God.    A baby  – open, unthreatening, vulnerable – Waiting for us to accept him this Christmas  – waiting for us to take him in our arms and love Him. – 

Amen.

Nick Smith…

Good morning, David asked the congregation a while back if anyone would be willing to make a Sunday address. Eager to give a little back after receiving so much from the church I agreed. This was about 5 weeks ago.
We have my Mother in Law… Cheryl Howlett in the pews today all the way from Kiama, Australia. Courtney & I have been counting down the days to her arrival. But somehow I overlooked the fact that she would be here during my address today so I’ve got a little extra encouragement /
pressure to do a good job today.

Today I want to talk about my journey to faith. Now the bible is a pretty big book, the writing is so small and there are so many pages to choose from plus everyone here knows so much more about it than I do, so
I thought it probably best to just talk about what I know.

I spent 12 years living in London prior to coming up to Argyll… My senses to the natural world were dulled & censored.

In a metropolis like London the natural world is all but hidden

Where there is…

·      Sunrise and sunset – Office walls and packed tubes

·      Seasonal weather on the skin – Consistent temperatures from Air conditioning

·      Where you guys saw the night skys with stars and scale of the heavens above – Light pollution and planes thundering overhead

·      Horizons are hidden by Skyscrapers and blocks of flats

·      Where you look down to see plants growing – filthy concrete pavements

·      Cooking with seasonal ingredients locally grown & foraged – I ate premade food out of packets – No understanding of seasonal growth in nature

·      Where you saw the changing seasons in nature – I saw changing seasons in TV & Advertising – Manmade constructs, always with something better to have or to do

Nothing is natural in London. This leads to a perpetual state of censorship of the natural world & general feeling of inadequacy & lack of purpose.

I had to get out.

So Courtney & I moved up to Crinan where I had spent my childhood holidays, settled in and got a wee dog called Ralph.

We walked through the surrounding hills daily and my senses began to realign with the natural world the passing seasons. I watched the colours of the trees on the horizon behind Crinan basin change out of my studio window. I began to feel more connected, calm and with purpose in
life.

I could see that everything in nature worked beautifully as intended.

There was vastly superior intelligence in it’s design in comparison to urban environments, something way beyond mans capabilities.

It was so compelling for me that I saw evidence of a higher power. Evidence of a creator / Evidence of a god

It was late October 2017, I was chatting with Courtney about this new found wonder in the natural world around us. I’m not sure who came up with the idea – but with a basic understanding of Christianity we discussed giving this Church thing a go.

After all it’s the Christians who talk about a God who is a Creator.

We are taught in Genesis Chapter 1 many great truths but the one that stuck with me is that we are made in God’s image.

_Verse 27 “__So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”_

_ _So he made us creators too…

He gave us the ingredients on earth to go forth and create.

We are all creators. I’d say that we’ve done a mixed job there…
some awful, some brilliant.

We create through necessity and through love. Paid and unpaid.I was paid for 11 years working as an Interior concept designer –
Mainly on cruise ships. Huge scale projects lasting for 3-4 years, 150,000 tonnes, over 300 m long. Macro to the micro details, floating cities being created.

I felt a bit like a god at the time, but unlike God, I made mistakes.

I remember towards the beginning of my career I was asked to design a kids water park on the open deck of a cruise ship. The centre feature was going to be a giant 2.5 meter high glass fibre cartoon frog who squirted water from its mouth.

I duly did the drawings using a computer but made an oversight on the units of measurement. Thinking I was using metric cm, I sent the drawings off to be made in Germany mistakenly using imperial inches. The Metric loving Germans converted the inches back to cm resulting in a phone call upon delivery from the onsite project manager that a colossal 7meter high, glass fibre frog had arrived at the ship yard on the back of an articulated lorry. This was a 7 meter high mistake far to big for installation on deck.

But I was forgiven – the giant Frog found a home in a local primary school in Pappenburg. And I didn’t get fired.

Knowing God doesn’t make mistakes, he also doesn’t cut corners.

We’ve just moved into a new house – I’ve grown mindful of how I shouldn’t cut corners either.

I’m building a new studio to do my work in. With a friend, we have built my dream desk. It’s 16 feet long and has two working heights.
The framework is made beautifully out of timber and I’ve started to paint it.

I had to ask myself the question… do I paint the parts underneath that will never be seen? Do I cut a corner? What would god do?

You’ll be pleased to know that its all been painted underneath.

I’ve learnt that God calls on us to become our best selves, to make the best with what he has given us.

Even if we make mistakes or cut corners we are told that he still loves us.

Our value doesn’t come from our achievements or possessions.

Our value is given to us from above.

For the past few years I’ve made my living as an artist.

I was keen to bring some of my new found faith into my work.

I recently opened a show in London called Psalms.

London is full of false idols and I wanted my viewers to consider what it is they worship and why?

I’ve always found branded condiments – Ketchup / Marmite / HP sauce etc an interesting metaphor for bettering ones lot, their application to a dish is an element of creation in itself whether appropriate or not.

My show – Psalms, calls into question our misguided love, loyalty and worship of brands. I always have a text element within my works, so I took ten Psalms from the bible and replaced any references to God with ten different branded condiments.

Blasphemy you may say? But within our secular society I wanted to illustrate a point and I don’t think God would mind me using words from his book to ask us to question our values.

So here is Psalm 63 Ketchup –

_You, Heinz, are my love._
Earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you.
My whole being longs for you
on a dry and parched butty
where there is no ketchup.

_I have seen you in the pantry_
and beheld your flavour and consistency.
Because your taste is better than own brands,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I eat,
and in your name I will lift up my bottle.
I will be fully satisfied as you are the richest of sauces;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

_On my chip I will remember you;_
I think of you through the cravings of the night.
Because you are my only condiment,
I liberally apply you.

_Shook well before use,_
your non-Newtonian fluid flows.

_Those who choose own brand tomato sauce will be disappointed;_
they will go deep to the depths of the condiments aisle.
They will be given over to the flavourless,
and become food for jackals.

_But the discerning will rejoice in Heinz tomato ketchup;_
all who swear by Heinz will glory in it,
while the mouths of others will be salivating.

It reads as ridiculous, that’s why we laugh

There is only one place we will find the value and fulfilment we seek.

It’s not in a Condiments Jar, it’s not in a job, its not in a new
car or home. It’s not even in successfully delivering your first address in front of your mother in law.

Its knowing that we are created perfectly by god, that he has given us all that we need and that we are loved by him despite our mistakes and failings.

So I propose Having faith in him and love for him, is where we will find the true fulfilment and love we need in our lives.

Amen

Sermon 9 December 2018

Readings 

Malachi ch 2v17 to 3v4 

You have wearied the Lord with your words.
“How have we wearied him?” you ask.
By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice? ”
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

Luke ch3v1-14 

Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely —be content with your pay.”

Prayer Isaiah 55:

10 & 11 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is the word that goes out from my [God’s] mouth.

It will not return to me [Him]empty, but will accomplish what I  [He]desires and achieve the purpose for which I [He] sent it.

Amen

As you well know, the season of Advent in the life of the Christian faith is a time of waiting, a time of reflection, a time of expectation, a time of preparation……..but maybe increasingly a time of competition…….when the essence/the heart of the significance of the birth of Christ is challenged more and more on a  non stop 24/7 basis by the other worldly voices and enticements clamouring for our attention.

For me, one wee girl’s observation captured this juxtaposition – in our house we celebrate the birth of Jesus by eating a turkey!

But that ongoing challenge of what we render unto Caesar and what we give to God is not confined to this time of year alone. It is a daily choice within an eternal time frame.

And in Advent we “juggle” – as it were – with these three time frames

  • firstly – pondering and celebrating the breathtaking, awesome wonder that Christ should come to earth for our sake; and in awe and humility reflect on how we might praise and serve him – and our neighbour – in response to his love.
  • Secondly – Advent also points us toward the second coming of Christ on a day and hour only his Father knows – how are we preparing for that day, are we primed and ready?
  • Thirdly – Advent is, in many senses, with us on a daily basis – Christ is always present – he comes to us/he accompanies us. As the apostle Peter puts it –  Life is a journey we must undertake with a deep sense of the presence of God. How do we cultivate that deep sense on an ongoing daily basis?

Our two readings were both rooted in their times – addressing the needs, the issues, the problems of their day and looking to the future.

The prophet Malachi had a challenge to the people of his time. They were hard times. The people were poor. They were ground down by foreign powers. They had not seen the prosperity they were promised by Haggai and Zechariah come to fruition –  and so they began to feel God had forgotten them and had let them down. Disillusion set in and this manifested itself in their increasingly casual attitude to worship and to the standards God had set them. The priests’ poor leadership  compounded the situation with their own contemptuous attitude to worship. A sorry state of affairs.

Malachi confronts the situation but, significantly, his message from God begins with a reassurance of God’s constant and continuing love for his people. [ Should  this not also be the same starting point for us when we have an opportunity to talk to our contemporaries about God.] That reassurance by Malachi then sets the context for the rebuke that follows ending with that great timeless and universal invitation to return to the Lord.

Malachi also looked ahead in the passage we read to the messenger who would prepare the way of the Lord.

In his time John carried that thread on – challenging the people of his time, calling them to repentance and pointing towards Christ and his ministry.

And Christ’s ministry, as recorded by Mark, started on that same note of a call to repentance – The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.

This Sunday – in the Advent scripture – what can we learn from John the Baptist?

Luke, the historian, places him historically with a number of points of reference – in relation to the occupation of his country by the Roman Empire – in the reign of Tiberius Caesar when Pontius Pilate was Governor of Judea; in relation to his own race – the split of Herod the Great’s kingdom among his 3 sons after his death; and in relation to the religious situation – during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas.

I always struggled in history – I knew Henry 2nd came after Henry 1st ! But these these reference points of Luke’s made an impact, not just in terms of a historical authentication, but it struck me quite forcibly – and I know this is self evident – that John’s ministry and  our ministry are rooted in the times we live in.

Malachi and John looked at their society – as it was – compared to what God was seeking and desiring – and challenged the people to return to a relationship with God and walk with him on the path he charts.

If we take three reference points for our time and our place – you can choose your own – but for starters – in the years of Brexit; in the years when scientists issued an  even starker warning about our climate and our environment; in the year you moved in to a new place of worship [in the year your minster went to the States] – the church here took this message to the community…….it is for you to fill this in…….what is it you are doing and saying….as we think of Peter’s words to be prepared in season and out of season to give a reason for the hope that we have.

This time is both a thanksgiving and celebration of the work and witness already in place and, in this time of vacancy, your sense of where God might be leading in the future.

As an aside – in a way – Mark records people going out to John the Baptist who wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

Jesus alludes to people being attracted to go and see John because of his distinctive – his odd lifestyle even for these times – his diet, his fashion sense! I think that John’s choices, which began with giving up a priviledged position in the priesthood, have a resonance today with all the analysis and discussion around the cumulative global impact of what we eat – what some waste; the materials our clothes are made of – how much we buy and so on. I’m not suggesting a Scottish parallel with John whereby we don wool coats and live outside off nuts and  berries but I do believe that in our time – as we regard the earth as a gift from God – that the church has something important to say, from the example of John, about needs versus desires; sufficiency contrasted with excess where, again, these tensions are heightened in the Christmas season.

In terms of the questions that came his way as to how people should respond to his repentance  call there were two broad categorieses – people with more than they needed – with two coats and with food in their cupboards – should share with people in need; and those in positions of authority were not to abuse their positions but to carry out their duties diligently and honestly.

John, in his time and place, was clear about the core purpose he was to fulfill and the message he had to deliver. I think one of the prophetic voices of our time is Pope Francis. He has done a lot of reflection on the role of the Catholic church – its decline and its declining influence  – and what its message and place is in this day and age. His analysis could apply across the board to the Prebyterian churches as well. In one of his articles he speaks about this picture he has in his head of the church. He says  – in my picture I don’t see Christ knocking on the door outside to come in BUT knocking on the door inside to get out!

What needs to get out? Martin Luther King Junior made the observation – our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.

Malachi wasn’t silent about the things that mattered; John wasn’t silent about the things that mattered; Christ certainly wasn’t silent about the things that mattered – and likewise the church today shouldn’t be silent about the things that matter – it needs to exercise its prophetic voice.

To do that, as a subscriber wrote recently in Life and Work, we need to regain our confidence – not in ourselves – but in our God.

Perhaps, like John, this is our wilderness experience with declining membership and a need to focus on what is our key/our collective core ministry at this time. In the wilderness John – and indeed Jesus – when all else was stripped away, John came out with a clarity of who he was in relation to Christ and what his message was to his generation. That, I believe, is one of the main challenges – if not the main challenge facing the Church and each of us individually today – to relate the Good News of Christ to the times we live in.

A story is told – probably apochryphal – as I’ve heard a number of variations of it.

It tells of the time John F Kennedy was visiting the NASA space station in the early 1960s. As well as meeting the top brass he also wanted to meet the blue collar workers. On meeting the guy who swept and kept the grounds tidy he asked what his role was to be met with the answer – Mr President, I’m helping to put a man on the moon!

Apocryphal or not it contains a truth about how we view our role – do we talk it down – he could have said “I’m only a cleaner” – or do we see our own calling/our own witnessing as part of God’s great plan – what do you do in the church – “I’m helping to bring about God’s kingdom!”

The Christian writer Adrian Plass wrote a number of short stories – which he called his parables.

One of them was entitled The Visit and it begins

Our church used to be very okay. We did all the things that churches do just about as well as they could be done, and we talked about our founder with reverence and proper gratitude. We said how much we would have liked to meet him when he was around and how much we look forward to seeing him at some remote time in the future.

The unexpected news that he was going to pay us an extended  visit now, in the present, was, to say the least, very disturbing.

All confident statements about the “faith” tended to dry up. People who had always seemed reasonably cheerful looked rather worried. Those who had been troubled appeared to brighten up considerably.

Each of us, I suppose, reacted to the news in our own way, but I think the thing we had in common was a feeling that the “game” was over. No more pretending when he came. He would know.

Among all the games the world would have us play as we wait for the “visit” – Christ’s birth; Christ’s daily presence; Christ’s coming again – and like John as we withdraw to a quiet time and place, what is our sense of God’s call to us in our time of waiting, our time of reflection, our time of expectation, our time of preparation ?
AMEN

Notes from Kirk Session 5 December 2018

  1. This was our first Session Meeting with our Interim Moderator  Rev. Hilda Smith, Also present were Mr David Logue, Mrs Libby MacDonald, Miss Ealasaid Mackay, Mrs Catherine Paterson, Mrs Louise Logue and apologies were received from Mrs Norma Kelly
  1. Items from Minute of 12th October 2018
    1. Audio visual technical equipment :

It was agreed that a group of people from the congregation be asked  to look into this and prepare a proposal for a suitable installation. 

    1. Development of Tayvallich Church.

The session clerk to discuss this with the Building and Planning departments and to provide the Convenor of the Presbytery Property committee with more information on proposed uses.

    1. Christmas cards:

The Church Christmas cards had been distributed by hand throughout the Parish.

  1. Worship and Mission:
    1. List of Services – December 2018 to February 2019:

The Session discussed the list of proposed service cover for the period to March 2019.   The various merits of introducing pulpit supply ministers and readers, using trained Local Worship Leaders, and introducing members of the congregation into taking more active part in worship were discussed.   Local Worship leaders would not normally be expected to lead worship on more than two Sundays per month and these may often be planned collaboratively.

The moderator reported that she had made further enquiries for cover and had positive responses from two contacts and she would follow these up.   She also advised that wherever practicable the person leading the services should do so in both parishes.

    1. Messy Church:    

This was continuing well.   The Messy Church Christmas Party is to be held at Kilmartin on the 6th December.

    1. Tayvallich Primary School visits:    

Mrs Courtney Smith has taken up the invitation by the headmaster of Tayvallich Primary school for someone from the church to visit the school to talk to the pupils once a month.

    1. Local Worship Leader Training.   

Four members of the congregation have expressed interest in attending this training in January and February 2019.    Unfortunately  one person is unavailable for the first session and will require to await a later tranche of training.    The names of the remaining three will be forwarded to the moderator for submission to Presbytery

  1. Reports:
    1. Presbytery:

Dundee Presbytery have offered to “twin” with Argyll to assist in covering vacant charges.   One minister from Dundee is spending time on Islay to cover that vacancy for two months, and it is hoped that arrangements can be made for others to come to vacant Argyll parishes for various periods.   

Presbytery has suggested a retiring offering at Services on the 27th January 2019 to support Theology Students from Malawi to undertake distance learning through Aberdeen University.   This was agreed.

  1. Correspondence:
    1. Inverlussa Church Building;

Representatives from CARTA had visited Inverlussa Church and drawn up a schedule of items for removal from the church prior to sale of the building.   A group from Session would visit Inverlussa to consider the content of this 

The Session Clerk had been notified of three individuals requesting to visit the church in relation to the sale.

    1. Christmas advert in Paper:

It was agreed to include the church services over Christmas in the Full Page Guide in the Argyllshire advertiser over two weeks at a cost of £45.   

Local Church Review:

    1. Draft Report.

The report was reviewed for factual inaccuracies and the session clerk noted these to respond to the LCR committee.

  1. AOCB:

Three copies of the booklet on Pastoral Care had been received and the session clerk was asked to obtain copies for all the elders.

The retiring offering at the Christmas Day service will be for Mid Argyll Transport Volunteers

  1. Date of next meeting:

Tuesday 12th February 2019 at 2.30pm in Tayvallich Church

  1. The meeting was closed with Prayer

Sermon 2 December

The First Sunday in Advent, where did this year go?

The Christmas movies are on TV, the adverts have begun telling us what we need for a wonderful Christmas and the word bandied about most is JOY. In the 24 or so days of advent we will hear this  word used a lot.  Thousands of Hymns and popular songs are about JOY, and Joy is used 8 times in the Christmas story. 

What comes to mind when you think about Joy? Dont confuse JOY with happiness.

Happiness is transient, it depends on circumstances. I’m happy when my children come to visit me, but the feeling fades when they go again. Its temporary and external.

Joy,  on the other hand, is a CHOICE. It’s internal, you can have joy even in grief.  If you like definitions JOY is the settled assurance that God is in control of every aspect of my life.  We can choose to praise God in all things.  It comes with being committed to following Him.

Wouldn’t it be good if everyone had this? No bad things would happen, we would all be kind to one another. But we don’t always have it. Why ? Because it drains out of our lives. We don’t have it because we put up barriers, depleters.

I love Harry Potter books/ films. They show good triumphing over bad.  I know they are about magic, so is Cinderella.  Harry Potter stories remind us that there is evil in this world and to keep our joy, we have to fight for it. In Ephesians 6  Paul tells us that we are fighting “powers in this dark world and spiritual forces of evil..”

These are destroyers of faith.  In Harry Potter there are “death eaters” these shadowy creatures suck out the life essence of the good people.

We have to fight the death eaters in our lives. What are they?

  1. Anxiety – we get stressed, nervous, scared ,worried. It might be an illness, a relationship, a job or lack of one.

You cannot be fearful and joyful at the same time.

In Luke 1 we read about the angel telling Mary she would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the son of God. If you were 14, wouldn’t that stress you out a bit? She’s engaged to be married – a legal contract in those days. How is she going to explain this to her parents or Joseph? Who is going to believe her story? An angel came Dad and told me I’d get pregnant and give birth to the son of God, imagine if your daughter said that.

There is going to be gossip! We cannot stop people talking about us. It’s a fact of life. Others are always sure that they can live your life better than you, and if you want to know whats going on around here, just pop into the Coop.

We know that the angel tells Mary not to be afraid., even though he just dropped a bombshell. She has every right to be concerned.

Mary makes a CHOICE and that word is important. When she is afraid she CHOSE to trust God and accept his plan.

We are adopted sons and daughters of God , each of us to take part in His plan. We need to CHOOSE to accept it. Whatever we are afraid of, whether its health, finances, job, moving house or even just a new  year!

We need to TRUST God and put whatever it is that is sapping our joy into his hands. Lk 1 .38 says that Mary tells the angel “ I am willing to accept whatever God wants”.

We may not understand what God is doing just now but GOD DOES, and if we trust him to take us through whatever  is causing our anxiety—- we will have JOY.

2nd death eater…. Resentment/ hurt.

We cannot be resentful and JOYFUL.

Everyone has been wounded by words and it hurts. The world is broken and our rebellion against God causes us to hurt each other. Some of us are deeply offended by betrayal, rejection or jealousy.

 Regardless of what it is, we have to deal with it. Bitterness stops our JOY.  We can carry a grudge for life, and some people don’t deserve forgiveness as we see it. They may not, but then neither do we. How can we pray “ Forgive us our sins as we forgive others?” If we are not forgiving others?

Matt 1 20-21

Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant- he is brokenhearted! Why did the angel only tell Mary what was going on? Why wasn’t Joseph in on it too? He goes through agony but God is testing his character, Is he going to be the kind of Father that can be trusted to bring up the Son of GOd?

When Joseph was hurting – he CHOSE to offer grace. 

Mary is struggling with fear

Joseph is struggling with anger… often the way relationships go.

He loves Mary though and here is a beautiful example of grace. He still takes her as his wife.

Who has hurt you deeply?

Are you still holding on to it?

That’s how we lose our JOY.

When God tells  Joseph whats going on, the bitterness fades and he is BLESSED. God gives him the job. We have a choice, bitterness or blessing? We don’t have the strength to do it alone, thats why Jesus came to save us. Accept Jesus —- Get JOY!

Third and final death eater — Confusion.

When we can’t figure out what we are supposed to be doing in life. We doubt ourselves and where we should be headed. Sometimes we are seduced by fear and lose our JOY.

The more we struggle to sort it ourselves the more we feel lost. We may have unattainable goals, unfinished projects, unfulfilled dreams. Our fears may be real or imagined, physical or emotional. An attitude, a habit, a belief or a memory. Anything standing in the way of JOY, and trusting God fully and relaxing into his control.

How do you know if you have personally encountered Jesus?

Because you feel humble gratitude- the more we get to know Him, the more we understand that He is in control, IF we CHOOSE to let Him. Then we can’t help but be thankful.

When we know what God’s plan is, and it is to send his son so that we can have a constant companion through his Holy Spirit, then we lose anxiety, stress , the wound we have been refusing to let go of, then we feel grateful and want to praise him.

We need help from Heaven, if we didn’t need a saviour, God wouldn’t have sent one and Christmas wouldn’t have happened.

“ I bring you tidings of great JOY that will be for ALL people” the angels told the shepherds.

Whether you consider yourself a Christian, an Atheist an Agnostic or anything else, you need to know that Jesus was born, died and raised to life for you. No matter what you’ve done, how you did it, how long for or with whom. You have a saviour  who is CHRIST THE LORD for eternity! Your past, present and future sins are forgiven.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ our Lord. He will never force himself on you. The choice is yours.