Advent

  • A Pregnant Pause

    The four Sundays of Advent, Advent being our season of preparation for the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus, Immanuel; the four Sundays of Advent have taken us time traveling. In week one, to the end of all time, reminding us that the Christ upon whose birth we wait is also the Christ upon whom we wait at the end of all time - the Christ who will make all things new and reconcile and redeem this broken world and our broken lives. Then, in weeks two and three we jumped from the end of time back to nearly two thousand years ago to meet John the Baptist, crying out for us to prepare for the way of the Messiah; to get our hearts and lives in order. And here in week four, we jump still further back in time, to when John the Baptist was but a babe in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth’s sister Mary, pregnant with Jesus, comes to visit.

    This was an auspicious visit, this meeting of sisters: Mary and Elizabeth.

  • Ancient Roots, New Beginnings

    The apostle Paul, writing to the fledgling Philippian Christian community from where he was in jail, sent these beautiful words that we heard this morning:

    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:4-7)
  • Christmas with Redeemer

    "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." -- Isaiah 9:6

    This year continues to bring us face to face with things we will miss and opportunities to build new traditions. We will miss being in person for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. Yet in the midst of the grief and challenges of this pandemic, God’s grace with it’s persistent nature of blessings, is doing new things.

    We hope that you are able to gather with us for Christmas Worship.  Our Christmas Worship opportunities are:

    • 7:00pm Christmas Eve - This festival Service of Holy Communion will include a re-telling of the Christmas Story by our youth, all recorded and edited remotely. And we are inviting everyone who can to have at least one candle (or one for everyone in your household) ready to light when we sing Silent Night together on Christmas Eve. We may not be able to hear each other sing, but if we all turn our video on for at least that portion of worship, we can be joined in a tangible sign of togetherness and a sea of beautiful light.
    • 10:30am Christmas Day - We'll gather for a service of the Word with more Christmas Carol singing, and our wonderful family musicians.

    The irrepressible nature of God’s blessings spills over into this world through our Savior’s birth and remains a constant inviting us to constant praise as we remember that Jesus, Emmanuel, is indeed “God with us.”

    Greening of Sanctuary

    With the season of Advent upon us, we begin preparations for Christmas and the celebration of Christ's birth and these preparations include the greeening of the sanctuary. If you wish to help beautify the sanctuary and offset the cost of Christmas flowers, you can do so by purchasing poinsettias or submitting a donation toward Christmas wreaths. 

  • Getting Ready for Joy

    We shall “come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon (our) heads; (we) shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

    There shall be “everlasting joy upon our heads!” Joy, I tell you, is what we are getting ready for. Did you ever notice that the hymn “Joy to the World” is placed right on the dividing line between the Advent and Christmas sections of the hymns in our hymnals? To me, this hymn sounds like pure Christmas. Yet, I suppose that even when we come to Christmas, we are celebrating that God has already granted the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ for the redemption of the world, even as we look with expectancy – expectation – for the second coming of our Savior and the time when all the hard work of redemption being sorted out through time and the universe will be complete. The haunt of the jackal will be no more, and we will travel a simpler road, praising God in song and with safety. Yet for now, we live an existence in life and soul that resides in the dividing line – the place between getting ready for the ultimate joy that has been completed by God’s great love and the Advent time of this world’s current existence, before God’s redeeming work is seen and known in its completeness.

  • God is a Whole Picture God

    There’s a story in this month’s Living Lutheran online and print magazine that tells about how Lim Forgey, the music minister at Christ Lutheran Church, Visalia, California, noticed children playing outside the dumpster by the church. Lim noticed that one of the children wasn’t even wearing shoes. (Living Lutheran, Nov. 2018)

    Now there are many stories in the news about children in need in this country and around the world, stories of families stuck in hard times because of job loss or illness, because they’ve had to flee violence and are stuck in refugee camps or at borders. It can be easy to lose heart when we read or hear or watch about such stories day after day.

  • Identity Matters. Names Matter.

    When the angel appears to Joseph in a dream, the angel calls him by his name, “Joseph,” and also, “son of David.” The “son of David” portion of this naming reminds us – maybe Joseph, too - that Joseph is of the house of King David, of royal lineage. Joseph is a famous heritage lineage of the King David. David, who was the youngest of eight sons of a sheep farmer, Jesse. David, who was summoned from the fields one day by the prophet Samuel that he might be anointed and made king. David, the littlest and not strongest of the brothers. David, who as a boy would slay Goliath, that great giant of a warrior, with a single pebble from his sling, and then go on to grow into one of the most famous kings of Israel and of all time.

    Joseph is descended from this David. Furthermore, the prophets had foretold that the Messiah, the Savior promised of old, would come of the house of David and – cue our first reading from Isaiah – be named “Emmanuel,” “God with us.”

  • Not Just Surface Cleaning

    The story goes like this: when I was about three years old, I was, apparently, not a very tidy little fellow. Toys and clothes, I am told, tended to be strewn about my room in no particular order. Apparently, things got so messy that my mom once told me that my room was a disaster and that unless I cleaned up, she wouldn’t be able to come to my bed to tuck me in and kiss me good night at all. Apparently, this threat of not getting a good night kiss was a strong motivator for me as a child to do something, but I’m not sure that I got the real gist of my mom’s intended message to me because when she came to check on me and how I had done with cleaning my room, I had, apparently, not put toys or clothes back on shelves or in drawers, but only carefully pushed everything back just enough to create a clear path from the hallway to the side of my bed.

    My mom did tuck me in and kissed me good night, but we had to keep working on what it meant to clean my room!

  • Our Calling

    I am thinking about how, some years ago, a group of us from Redeemer – organized by one of our confirmation youth – joined in an Anti-Racism event here in New Paltz; proclaiming that Black Lives Matter and God’s righteousness calls for things to continue to change in this world, so as to bring justice and equality for all people.

    I am thinking about how, in the years before the pandemic, we had begun to have a church picnic and training event that led us down the street and into the world to march in the Hudson Valley Pride Parade, proclaiming that the Christ through the Church welcomes and loves all people and repents of the ways that human sin has gotten in the way of that clear message in the past.

    I am thinking about how we are gathering in food and Christmas presents today and blessing them, then sending them to help three families in need, proclaiming that all people deserve to live with dignity and plenty.

  • Preparing through Advent

    As we move through this season of Advent, this season of preparation for the Festival arrival of our Savior the Christ child, we Prepare to welcome Joy incarnate.

    But what does this Preparation look like, and what does this Joy mean?

    I imagine that many of us have heard and are familiar with the words from Isaiah, associated with John the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Yet We may be less familiar with another portion of this same passage, in which the prophet Isaiah says that this preparation is so that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

  • Rise Up With Hope at the Ready

    Who, when things are at their worst, thinks to rise up and stand ready for all the good that is to come? To rise up with hope?

    Yet that is precisely what the writer of the gospel of Luke suggests in this passage. Famine, war, trials and travails? Fear not, my fellow people. Instead rise up and get ready. “wake, awake for night is flying!” Get ready for the arrival of newness, the arrival of Hope, the arrival of the wellspring of all things.

    Wait now…just a second. How can we be hopeful when, as my great-hearted but somewhat foul-mouthed great aunt used to say, “the world is going to hell in a hand basket?”

  • Scrambled

    I love a good, simple scrambled egg. If one can get the balance of eggs and milk just right…and beat the eggs just enough before cooking… and then cook them thoroughly but not overcook them… and then add just the right amount of salt and pepper… and then if one has a good cinnamon raisin bagel or piece of toast made from fresh, homemade bread…and then maybe a small glass of orange juice, not too big and not too small…and a good place to sit and see the sun begin to peek it’s light over the horizon as a new day begins…

    Wow, suddenly, my good, simple scrambled egg isn’t sounding so simple anymore, is it?