Why Do we Have an Advent Wreath?

With the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season already buzzing in stores and on our televisions, I invite you to sit back, breathe, and soak in the beauty of Advent.  The Advent Wreath is a simple, liturgical reminder to us during the Advent season, a season of preparation and waiting for the coming of the Christ-Child.    

Four royal blue or purple candles remind us of the royalty of Christ, who is the King of Kings.   A candle is lit for each Sunday in Advent, the four Sundays prior to Christmas Eve.

The evergreen wreath, shaped in a circle, is a sign of life without end.

The Christ Candle, the tall white candle in the center, represents the light of Christ.  We light the Christ-Candle on Christmas Eve.   

After Christmas Eve, Advent wreaths are tucked away, but the Christmas crèche remains, for Christ, the Savior is born among us.

Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year.  We remember, in sequence, the story of God’s love and interaction with us with the two great cycles of the life of Christ:  Advent/Christmas/Epiphany and Lent/Easter/Pentecost.   The word “Advent” finds its roots in the Latin word adventus, or coming.

Norm Shawchuck and Reuben Job unpack Advent beautifully:

“This season proclaims the coming of Christ in the birth of Jesus, in the Word and Spirit, and in the final victory when God’s kingdom shall be complete.  Our privilege as Christians is to receive the gracious gifts of God’s presence in Christ.  Our task is to prepare for his coming so that we will not miss life’s greatest gifts.”

May your Advent season be a beautiful time of wonder, love, and praise.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Abundant Living

Jesus states his purpose saying, “I came so that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  As partners with God, in God’s acts of new creation, abundant life is experienced through how we give ourselves away; and both we and those we serve experience abundant living!

Michael Josephson in a piece titled, “Live A Life That Matters” writes:

“Ready or not, someday life will all come to an end.  There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.  Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.  It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.  So what will matter?  How will the value of your days be measured?  What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built, not what you got, but what you gave!  What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encourage others.  Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident, it’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.  Choose to live a life that matters.”

Abundant living becomes a reality as we “live a life that matters”. In this season of Thanks-Giving we express gratitude for our blessings; may we become a blessing to the world through our investment in God’s acts of new creation.

The finance team is in the final stages of putting together our 2019 budget.  Thank you to all of you who have made an investment in the mission and ministry of HPCUMC/OTRCC through your 2019 commitment.  To date we have received 253 commitments totaling $1,214,491.  For those of you who are still praying about your 2019 commitment, I am in prayer with you.  I encourage you to either go to our website and make your commitment online, or return a commitment card to the Church office (there are commitment cards in the literature racks around the church and in the church office).

I thank God daily for you, and count it a privilege to serve in ministry with you!  This Thanksgiving I praise God for the abundant living that is mine through Christ Jesus, and the abundant living we are able to offer others through our investment in God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Update from OTRCC

Greetings, Hyde Park family, from your brothers and sisters at Over-the-Rhine Community Church! It feels very good to be able to say that we are family. It is a blessing being a part of such a vibrant, vital, loving church as we live out the idea of being a church in two locations! This week will mark the completion of my first full quarter with you, and it has been an amazing first three months in ministry with you!

As we rush headlong toward the holidays, the idea of family is heavy on my mind. For some of us, we are excited about the opportunity to get together with our loved ones. For others, planning for these get-togethers is more like preparing ourselves for battle. Many of us fall somewhere in the middle. The truth is, family can be hard. It can also bring us much joy. Both of these are true because family is people and, as we learn in life, people are complicated. Relationships are complicated. I say all of that to say this: these dynamics are true in the church as well. That’s why loving each other well is primary in scripture and also why we have so much work yet to do! But while I have your attention, family, let me update you on what is going on at OTRCC.

At Over-the-Rhine Community Church, we are heading into the holidays with a renewed since of passion and purpose for our calling. We have been busy being the hands and feet of Jesus to our wonderfully diverse community. We continue to feed dozens of our friends in need each Sunday morning with a hearty, healthy breakfast while providing a loving, safe atmosphere and a sincere invitation to join us for deeper community in worship and beyond. We recently sent a dozen of our leaders, both new and long-time, to a conference to soak up some knowledge about how to be a church that lives into its context well and makes a true difference for Jesus in the community. We continue to see new faces each and every week and are seeing new folks begin to plug-in and lead in exciting ways. This week, we started our second round of intentional leadership development that we call Huddles. All of this is possible because you at Hyde Park and we at Over-the-Rhine believe that we are family and we try to live into that reality together. Great things are happening!

This Sunday, I’m excited to get to see the faces again of all of those worshipping at Hyde Park and meet some new ones. We will be in the third part of our sermon series on Four Things Jesus Did Not Say, and this week’s topic is “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”. I know, easy right? Not so much. As people who worship a God who is said to BE love, is hate even a weapon we have in our arsenal? Can we hate something about others and not step over the line of hating them? These are the kinds of things we will wrestle with together. I can’t wait to see you there on Sunday. It’ll be like seeing family.

Pastor Zak McIntyre

Over-the-Rhine Community Church

Bible “truisms”…

The Bible is one of the most popular and beloved books in the whole world. At least I hope you agree! It is also one of the most complicated to understand. There are stories with plot twists we could never conceive of, teachings that are hard to accept, and characters who have become heroes as well as cautionary tales.

Scriptures must be interpreted. Sometimes their meanings seem to conflict, or a particular message given in one context appears to be contradicted in another context. We must ask ourselves “what is the broader message or theme of the whole of scripture?” It is not enough to find a passage or two or three which supports our particular view. This is known as proof texting your point.

Here is what I think works best–We interpret all of scripture in the light of Jesus’ life and his teachings, as well as with the help of tradition, reason and our life experiences.

Our sermon series “Four Things Jesus Never Said” continues this week. Adam Hamilton’s book, Half-Truths, helps us examine a few sayings that may or may not appear in the Bible. Jesus certainly never said any of these sayings. A number of these sayings are misused and can actually hurt people.

Have you ever heard or said the phrase “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves?”

When saying this-What do we mean? Does it help others? Is it biblical? Is it not?

You are invited to be in worship as I attempt to make some sense of this most popular saying. See you on Sunday morning!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave