Monthly Archives

November 2018

Christmas- The Gift That Keeps Us Growing

By Intersections

Once you open Christmas, God’s Gift, nothing remains the same.

 

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son. Generous inside and out, true from start to finish(John 1:14).

 

Hello friends,

Every day of the year is special. To someone. Yourbirthday is special, for example! In fact, every single day of the year has been co-opted to celebrate or commemorate one thing or another. Did you know that January is “National Bath Safety Month” and “Penguin Awareness Day” is January 20? The list is endless! Among thousands of personal, regional, national, and religious special days, Christmas, December 25, is unique. It’s the day we have chosen to especially celebrate God’s Gift when long ago, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood”(John 1:14). What a day!

No doubt your memories of Christmas’ past are expressed through today’s traditions and customs. They help you unpack Christmas’ meaning. Seasonal food favorites. Special ornaments and events. Christmas movies and holiday music. Gatherings and gift-exchanges. Christmas Eve candlelight worship. The traditions go on and on. Sometimes the pastfamiliar traditions can overwhelm us as we miss loved ones, reminisce about by-gone days, or just feel a bit lonely during Christmas. Now is a great time to remember that from that First Noel, Christmas was always about the futureinvading our present.

Those former memories may be little more than nostalgic, but the real gift of Christmas is anything but! All things can become new…again. Once you open Christmas, God’s Gift, nothing remains the same.

We can incorporate and build upon Christmas memories when we invest time to learn and grow. We can create new memories, making this Christmas, and every Christmas to come, vitally different, better.

Can you imagine a thriving Christmas, not merely surviving it?! This year, let’s take all the best of Christmas’ pastand open our arms and spirits to new ways to receive God’s gift of Christmas now? And help others do the same. Our greater Cape May community needs to experience Christmas anew this year, and you can be a part of that experience.

And what is that Gift ready to be opened this year? Jesus. Jesus is the Gift. The Gift that keeps on giving. It’s Jesus moving into our neighborhood, now. Today. Sure, he was born in the pastto Mary and Joseph among the animals in crowded Bethlehem. But it’s (also) todaythat God is with us. Today, God can blossom afresh into our lives.

This week, all month, and as the new year unfolds, make time to talk with God. Pause long enough to listen, too. (Check out our online resources for your very own 30-Day Challenge.) Let God know you are grateful as you recall the best of your Christmas’ past, but that you want the Spirit to energize your life this Christmas!

God wants to inspire your thoughts. (Pick up the Bible and take fifteen minutes to read Nehemiah, chapter 1 and Romans, chapter 12. Consider how Nehemiah responded to the cries of his community and how the Apostle Paul urged the house churches to renew their minds for action.) Once you open Christmas, God’s Gift, nothing remains the same.

This Christmas, God can empower us to live our very best selves. Or, sure, we can remain stuck in Christmas’ past, repeating fine traditions but not learning or growing into God’s preferred future. Overhearing the Greatest Story Ever Told is O.K., but not letting the radical Good News transform our life is just a missed opportunity. God Is With Us, Emmanuel(Isaiah 7:14, 8:8; Matthew 1:23), as God’s emerging future unfolds with our every step. How exciting this Christmas could be!

The first New Testament letter was sent to the house churches in the city of Thessalonica, in modern-day Turkey. Paul begins his letter thanking God for the way their lives were changing. He praised them for how they let the Good News shape their community. Each believer responded to God’s invitation to faithfulness in their own, unique way. It was all good. And different. Their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” empowered them to revolutionize their neighborhoods, improve people’s lives, and it elicited some of Paul’s strongest affirmations and expressions of gratitude.

Be a Part of the Advent Adventure. It All Begins December 2

Cold Spring Presbyterian Church enjoys many wonderful traditions during Advent and Christmas that will provide a foundation for experiencing the presence of God in our lives today. Everyone is welcome to come and worship with us every Sunday in December. Enjoy special music, an interactive and inspiring message from God’s word, and a joyful community of faith! This year’s Advent Message Series is titled The All-Inclusive Storyfeaturing the animals of Christmas. Animals, you ask? Yes!

The pastor, Jerome (347-420 AD), helped early believers learn the four gospels using familiar creatures, each representing Mark (the Lion, 12/2), Luke (the Ox, 12/9), John (the Eagle, 12/16), and Matthew (men and women, 12/23). Let’s open God’s Gift of Christmas together using these traditional illustrations.

Melissa and I wish you a very merry Christmas. Remember: Once you open Christmas, God’s Gift, nothing remains the same.

2018-11-18 Message- Ropes Of Living Hope

By Sermons

Have you ever felt at the End of your rope?! Sure, we all have. The rope is a familiar metaphor for many of life’s experiences and activities. Sometimes we can feel like we’re getting all Tied Up, or walking a Tightrope just to get through our day, or wistfully longing for the simple joy of Jumping Rope as a child in the neighborhood. Remember playing Tug-of-war on the field? It may have Ben a while since you enjoyed the Rope Swing in your backyard. Ropes can also keep us on the path and guide us in the best direction. 

Our energizing message this week is from Mark 13 and Hebrews 4 and you are invited to consider Jesus’ promise to be with us in our present and our future. While visions of the “end times” may result in some anxieties, the end times is not at the end of our rope. Rather, Jesus promises to be faithful to us… “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). Even when Jesus envisioned the future destruction of Herod’s Great Temple, do not fear. Even the uncertainties ahead can result in normal fears, God promises to stand with us in our fear, to tie us as with a safe and secure rope, not only to himself, but to one another. Sure, we may not immediately correlate encouragement and safety to former church experiences, but at Cold Spring Church, we not only stand on the promises of God, we stand on the promises of God together.

Did you know that the The Latin root of the word “religion” is re-ligare, which means to be tied to a yoke? Many monastic orders still require the monk to tie a rope around his waist. It’s not a rope that keeps the cassock from falling. It was a symbol of God’s promises. The rope symbolized that we are all bound together in ropes of hope and faith and love.

Find Ropes of Living Hope this week at Cold Spring Presbyterian Church.

2018-11-18 Message for Kids- Roped In For Thanksgiving

By Sermons

What holiday do we celebrate on Thursday? Sure, Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for? Lots of things. And lots of people, like our family and friends, too, right? We are thankful because God has given us reasons to give thanks because in Jesus Christ we are tied to God. See this rope? What kinds of knots would hold us tight to God? Here, let me know you as I tie this knot. (Disappearing knot rope demonstration.) Wow. That kind of loose knot is not secure. No! The kind of knot you are tied to God with is like this. (Demonstrate a tight knot.) When Melissa and I were married, the minister used the illustration of a knot to show how we are tied together in marriage. Held by God. Held to each other in love. Let’s celebrate God’s connection as we trust in Jesus. Remember to give thanks. And every time you see a rope, a cord, over the holiday, remember how you are always tied to Jesus! And give thanks!

2011-11-11 Message- Why the Widow Only Had Two Coins (and what we can do about it)

By Sermons

It’s veteran’s day. Did you know that there is an historic high in veteran suicides? It’s time to pay better attention to all sectors of our society; to take another look at the social services and technology that can help address this important issue. Our veterans are at risk.

Veterans today are like the widows in Jesus’ day. They give sacrificially, and we want to celebrate their sacrifice and even model it in our own lives. But their sacrifice is needed because of the untenable, unacceptable, situation they are in due to injustice, inattention, because we as a community, as a state, or nation, have not adequately provided for them.

Historic voter turnout in this week’s midterm elections is a positive sign of civic engagement. Along with the political analysts and pundits, in the coming months the nation will realize the hope of Election Day outcomes. But as citizens, we “vote” and make “decisions” every day on what matters most to us and what we care about. In a way, Election Day is every day, especially for followers of Jesus Christ. Throughout Scripture, the litmus test for loyalty as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ is this: How do we treat the poor and vulnerable? How do we care for the least of these? On Sunday we will meet a widow described in our Gospel text from Mark 12 who dropped two small coins in the offering box. Jesus said she gave more than the larger amounts from more affluent worshippers. We will discover WHY this woman was poor and vulnerable how God calls us to make decisions rooted in grace and gratitude as engaged people of faith.

 

2018-11-11 Message for Kids- Priceless Kids Are God’s Workmanship

By Sermons

You are priceless! God created you as his workmanship. At each stage of our life we find ways to showing evidence of God’s work in us through Jesus Christ! You have ideas? Doing homework? Cleaning your room? Helping a neighbor of grandparent to the car? Taking the dog out! Saying kind things to others. Each of us can show God’s workmanship, its like he has signed you as an original! And that’s what you are! Now, this week, let’s show what God can do!

2018-11-04 Message- Embracing An Olive Tree Faith

By Sermons

This week we are departing from the lectionary readings to talk about the roots of faith and how our faith can be rebooted for the future as we build on the promises of God. The theme is the Olive Tree. From Genesis to Revelation and everywhere in between, the olive tree is a metaphor for our faith. From the olive branch returned by the dove to Noah to the great olive tree in the new heaven and earth of Revelation, anointing oil inaugurated kings, blessed believers, and it was on the Mt. of Olives that Jesus wept over Jerusalem. You will never look at the olive the same way again!

2018-11-04 Message for Kids- Promises and the Olive tree

By Sermons

Our faith is rooted in God’s promises and the saving work of Jesus Christ. What is the last promise you made? How did it go? Sure, sometimes we make promises and don’t keep them. When that happens what do we do? That’s right. We apologize and ask forgiveness. Figure out what may have interfered with keeping those promises and keep them next time! Promises are the roots of faith. From Genesis to Revelation and everywhere in between, the olive tree in the Bible is a metaphor for our faith. Taste these amazing olives. The Olive Tree has deep roots. Try one. Next time you see an olive, remember God’s promises for you in Jesus Christ! God loves you!