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Experience the Story from the original Christmas Storyteller
The Second Sunday of Advent invites us to prepare for something fantastic. News that’s worthy of being shouted from the mountaintops, or posted to your Instagram account, or texted to a friend. Yes. It’s that fantastic because there is nothing ordinary about the preparatory days that lead us to celebrating Christmas. We will flesh out God’s story as we hear the prophet Isaiah tell of a messenger to come. Five hundred years later, John the Baptizer fulfilled the prophecy and prepared the way for Jesus.
Christianity is a religion, but so much more. We don’t follow a religion. We follow Jesus, the Peace of God that forever connects divinity with humanity. God becoming human is in the Church’s (and our) spiritual DNA as we become transformed by the transcendent into the imminent. The Word and Spirit became flesh and blood. Christmas is the story of this peace connection of the divine and human.
This week we will connect with John the Baptizer who expressed empathy. Empathy is rooted deep within the DNA of our church, but it can be developed, and improved, through learning. Understanding and clarifying our own values, but also understanding others’ values, is essential to authentic living. Expressing empathy is essential for effective storytelling—storytelling that can transform lives. We too often tell a Christmas story about us. But its so much more. When the story is all about the storyteller, little empathy is expressed and impact on others is marginal. And stories rooted in ourselves alone are rarely interesting or effective. But when the storyteller internalizes the Story and pays attention to others, captures the experiences, emotions, and context of the listeners, empathy rises, which empowers life-changing behaviors.
Don’t talk to their minds, talk to their hearts. —Nelson Mandela
John the Baptist does just that in our Gospel reading and message this week, and we can too.
We begin with our Advent countdown that sets the theme for our worship experience. Jayne McDonough will accompany Beverly Mate singing. Our first hymn is Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The tune for this carol was composed by Mendelssohn, who himself was a Messianic Jew. It is from the second chorus of a cantata he wrote in 1840. The cantata commemorates Johann Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press. Mendelssohn strictly warned that his composition had a purely secular purpose. However, in 1856, long after both Wesley and Mendelssohn were dead, Dr. William Cummings ignored both of their wishes and joined the lyrics by Wesley with the music by Mendelssohn for the first time. As a result, the modern version of this beautiful, gospel-centered carol was born, and generations ever since have made this hymn a Christmas favorite.
We close with Go, Tell It On The Mountain. The refrain theme comes from Old Testament passages in which praise to God for his acts of deliverance. Acclamations are shouted, both literally and metaphorically, from the mountaintops (Isa. 42:11). While the three stanzas tell the essence of the Christmas story, the refrain underscores the missionary impetus of the Christian church: “As you go, make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The “Go, tell,” which initially applied to the singers caroling on the university campus, signals us to leave the comfortable confines of Christian worship and “Go, tell” the message of Christ’s redemption to the whole world.
Whatever your religious affiliation, or none at all, we all hear Jesus say, “Come to me all who are overburdened, and find rest for your soul!” Everyone is welcome at Cold Spring Church. Yes, everyone!
Enjoy sitting with others from greater Cape May as we worship together. We simplified our service and made participation even easier with our Worship Guide and lyric videos displayed on a large screen.
Physical distancing is recommended but not required!
You have found a place to encounter God and people who care about you – just as you are, right where you are, anytime. Subscribe to our weekly Connections email newsletter. Sign up here!
Energize your life and discover the amazing love of Jesus! This week is the perfect time to join us in person for worship. Enjoy live music, solo, lyric videos, and a message of hope from God’s word.
We are excited to welcome you to worship in our historic Red Brick Church that premiers on Sundays at 10:30 AM.