From the Pastor's Pen
December 3, 2017
Few challenges arise this time of the year that surpass the challenge of finding and taking joy from the real meaning of the season. Conspiring aggressively, many forces have set about like the Grinch to steal Christmas out of the national-perhaps global-experience. So, we have X mas and holidays, but we have but little of the Christmas that God intended to lie the best and fullest blessing of the world.
I suppose it has always been that way. From the very beginning, the one thing wanted by the powers around was to hide the Christmas Child, keep secret what he was in the world to do, and obscure the truth concerning the eternal need the Child had come to address. The noise in Bethlehem, the fury in Herod’s palace, and the indifference of the masses joined with the malaise of the spiritual leaders to essentially criminalize the claims of the birth of Jesus.
Isn’t that happening still Our celebrations of Halloween equal or surpass our actual Christmas celebrations. Oh, we spend some more at this season than we do on ghosts and goblins, but we are more comfortable tricking and treating than in the necessary adoration of the Baby of the holy stable. In both cases, we teach our children that its all about getting.
So, that challenge is both sobering and difficult. How do we find the truth of the season and lay hold of what God is offering the world in that little lean-to shed? We’ve got a few busy weeks to think of it and search. A people who really want to know and will seriously seek it, can surely find the real meaning of the season.
Call to Worship
December 3, 2017
Come now, let us quietly and thankfully enter upon the sacred ground of God’s holy presence. Let us Worship God.
December 3, 2017
The truth is-there are no gains without pains.
Grace Covenant Ministries
“We are a Covenant people, impacting a broken and hurting world with the Christ of redeeming love”
From a Biblical perspective the statement above identifies “who we are,” “the work we are called to do,” and “the means by which the work will be accomplished.” In stating these three areas, the Collegiate Consistory has created a mental picture or vision of what the work of Grace Covenant Ministries is all about. A brief explanation of each area follows.
“We are a Covenant people”
A covenant is an agreement/promise between two parties. Generally, these are bilateral agreements which are binding on both parties. There are, however, promises God made with His people that are unilateral—binding only on Himself. History reveals that God is a covenant making God, but also a covenant keeping God. He never breaks his promises. A few examples follow:
- To Noah He promised never again to destroy the world by flood (Gen. 9:12-17)
- To Abraham He promised to bless his descendants and make them His own special people (Gen. 12: 1-3)
- To Moses He promised “--out of all nations you will be my treasured possession--a kingdom of priest and a holy nation” (Ex. 19: 5-6)
- To David He promised that he and his descendant would be the royal heirs to the throne of the nation of Israel (2 Sam. 7: 12-16)
- To us He promises a “new covenant” under which we are justified by God’s grace and mercy because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Hebr.8: 8-12 and Acts 2:29-39
Jesus said when eating the Passover meal at the Last Supper with His disciples, “this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). This covenant is intended for all mankind--every man, woman and child, regardless of race. As believers in Christ we are redeemed “children of promise” (Gal. 4: 28 & Rom. 9:8. We are heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). We are a Covenant people.
“--Impacting a broken and hurting world”
The word “impacting” means leaving a deep impression or having a compelling effect on something or someone. Impacting causes change to occur. It leaves the target of its focus different than it was before. As covenant people we are called to impact a broken and hurting world. It requires us to be catalysts of change, instruments used by God to make a difference in the world. Impacting implies that differences come when connections are made. We are called to be imitators of Christ (Eph. 5:1) with a goal of pleasing Him. Compelled by His love we are to care about those He cares about, and to love those He loves. We have been reconciled to God through Christ who has extended to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5: 18-20). As His ambassadors we are, through word and deed, to make a difference in our lost and need world. There must remain, in the wake of our presence and efforts, a positive impression and a compelling difference. Christ is the answer. It is He who redeems, it is He who brings new life, and it is He in whose name we serve.
“--with the Christ of redeeming love.”
Scripture records various names and/or titles used in reference to Christ. Each name, with its special meaning, helps us answer the question, “Who is ‘the Christ’?” A few references follow:
- In the prophecy of Isaiah (7: 14) he is called Immanuel, meaning “God with us.”
- The Gospel of Matthew (1:21) records that Mary was to give her new born son the name Jesus, meaning “Savior.”
- Matthew (16:16) also records that during his public ministry Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ (meaning Immanuel) the Son of the Living God.
- In the Gospel of John (4: 25-26) Jesus tells a Samaritan woman the he is the Messiah, meaning “The Anointed One.”
The names help us understand that Christ is The Anointed One who is with us always. He is Jesus, our Savior who seeks and saves those who are lost. His love led him to Calvary’s cross to purchase our salvation. It is He who we must make known. It is His story of redeeming love that we are to tell.