Christmas: Yes, but… do I KNOW him?

Hey, all – as if you didn’t know – the freight train of busyness called “The Holiday Season” is coming at us fast and hard. And everyone’s calendar will fill up to overflowing.  Peace? Yeah, hardly.  Filled season and stress?  Maybe that’s more like it.

Which begs the seasonal question – so how much room is there in this season, and in our lives, to get more connected with the person whose birthday we celebrate?  Luke 2:7 tells us that Jesus was born in a stable because the hubbub of that particular season in downtown Bethlehem had squeezed his family to the margins.

So, we don’t want to rag on anyone for hosting a party or buying gifts.
No getting all “Grinchy” at KCRC.
Our hearts are NOT three sizes too small.

But we are wondering – Christmas (and think here all the hoopla and stuff of December), it’s all good and everything.
BUT…. what might we be missing in the process?  How does all this affect (or not) our connection to the Christ of Christ-mas?

Welcome to the Pre-Christmas teaching series here at Kemptville Christian Reformed Church.
Where you are invited to join us in doing some digging into our festive celebrations and their spiritual health (or not).

This week’s session:  “Christmas:  Yes, but…. Do I KNOW him?”
We’re exploring the teaching of Philippians 3:1-11.

Go ahead and find a bible, either print version or online or app.
Then download the podcast and the study guide.

Please note – those of you using a mobile device may have to set your browser to “desktop mode” to access the download button (a glitch with our site – sorry about that).

Here’s the podcast……..

Christmas: Yes, but… do I KNOW him?

And here’s the study guide:

Christmas: Yes, but… do I KNOW him? – The Study Guide

As always, feel free to pass this stuff around.  You can also find this, and other messages online at the KCRC website under the tab “Sermons And Stuff.”

We’d also love to have you join us live for worship.
We gather each Sunday at 10am.
Don’t worry about getting all gussied up.  Just come as you are – we’re a church full of imperfect people.
And we’d be glad to have other imperfect people, like you, along for the ride!

2017 Christmas Eve Service – the podcast

Due to popular demand here’s the podcast of the 2017 Christmas Eve service – the whole thing.  Not just a snippet or two.

It was titled “A Puzzling Blue Christmas” – and, as you’ll hear, we wanted to make space for people who were struggling, puzzled over what to do with all the jolly and holly, when life had been hard and they weren’t feeling so merry;  when they were experiencing hard emotions and memories.  What to do with Christmas?  Would there be anything in it for them?  Or best to just run and hide.  Whether that be you, or someone you love – if you weren’t able to be with us, please join in via the podcast.  There’s a message of real hope waiting for you!

You can follow along with the message via the online audio player – or download it to your favourite device to catch again later.
Please note – those of you using a mobile device may have to set your browser to “desktop mode” to access the download button (a glitch with our site – sorry about that).

A Puzzling, Blue Christmas?

May you be blessed as you listen.
And, hey – please know that we’d love to have you join us live for worship in 2018.
We gather each Sunday at 10am.
Don’t worry about getting all gussied up.  Just come as you are – we’re a church full of imperfect people.
And we’d be glad to have other imperfect people, like you, along for the ride!

And if you can’t join us live, keep an eye on the website for future podcasts.  Better yet, subscribe, and you’ll be automatically kept up to date.

God bless!!

 

 

The Peacemaker: Peace In Community

Want some peace in your life?
Maybe, especially, the sort of peace that Jesus came to bring?
Which, as we learned last week, is that sense of life being whole, complete, rolling out the way God intended it to be for you…. or me.
If you do – where is the best place that you might find it?  Be able to test drive it, check it out, and then fill your life with it?

Welcome to the Christmas season teaching series at Kemptville Christian Reformed Church.
It’s titled “The Peacemaker” – and here at KCRC we truly believe that the absolute BEST way to experience peace is through getting connected to Jesus.  We believe that the Bible promises Jesus to be the link to peace – for us, for our community, for the world.

Our theme bible passage for the series is Isaiah 9:6.  And this week we also checked into Mark 3:13-35.
We’d love to have you track with us for this, and others, in our series.  All of which will show up here on the KCRC.CA website.

So, download the study guide, and grab a bible.
Then follow along with the message via the online audio player – or download it to your favorite device to catch again later.
Please note – those of you using a mobile device may have to set your browser to “desktop mode” to access the download button (a glitch with our site – sorry about that).

 

The Peacemaker (3): Peace In Community

You are also invited to download the study guide…..

Peace In Community – Study Guide

As always, feel free to pass this stuff around.  You can also find this, and other messages online at the KCRC website under the tab “Sermons And Stuff.”

We’d also love to have you join us live for worship.
We gather each Sunday at 10am.
Don’t worry about getting all gussied up.  Just come as you are – we’re a church full of imperfect people.
And we’d be glad to have other imperfect people, like you, along for the ride!

 

 

The Peacemaker: The Peace Jesus Brings

Miss it?
Wish you had it – at least a bit of it?
Peace, that is.

I suppose “peace” could mean a whole bunch of different things to different people. We’re talking here about that sense of life being whole, complete, rolling out the way God intended it to be for you…. or me.
Here at KCRC we truly believe that the absolute BEST way to experience a peace like that is through getting connected to Jesus.  We believe that the Bible promises Jesus to be the link to peace – for us, for our community, for the world.

The second message in our Christmas teaching series for 2017 explores that idea.
What inner peace looks like for us.
How we come to connect with it.
Our theme bible passage for the series is Isaiah 9:6.

So, download the study guide, and grab a bible.
Then follow along with the message via the online audio player – or download it to your favorite device to catch again later.
Please note – those of you using a mobile device may have to set your browser to “desktop mode” to access the download button (a glitch with our site – sorry about that).

 

The Peacemaker (2): The Peace Jesus Brings

You are also invited to download the study guide…..

 

The Peace Jesus Brings – Study Guide

As always, feel free to pass this stuff around.  You can also find this, and other messages online at the KCRC website under the tab “Sermons And Stuff.”

We’d also love to have you join us live for worship.
We gather each Sunday at 10am.
Don’t worry about getting all gussied up.  Just come as you are – we’re a church full of imperfect people.
And we’d be glad to have other imperfect people, like you, along for the ride!

 

 

When Less Is More

LESS IS MORE.
We’ve all heard the saying.
Maybe even said it.
It’s a pretty hard one to accept, though – at least when it applies to stuff that we collect for ourselves.  Or opportunities for pleasure for ourselves.  Then we’re maybe not so interested in “Less.”  Then maybe we’d really like to focus on “More.”
The trouble with “More” is that when is it enough?
And could “More” ever become “Too Much”?
I know that’s true for diet.  I happen to love the taste of salt.  Especially on a greasy french fry.  YUM!!
My (not-so) friendly family Dr has kindly informed me, though, that if I don’t get my blood pressure down IMMEDIATELY she has a bunch of pills she’d like to introduce to me.
Hmmmm.
Could that also be true for others parts of my life?  Where wanting “more” has slipped into “too much” and is causing health concerns for me?  Perhaps for my spiritual and emotional health?
In Matthew 6:19-20 Jesus warns against “more.”  And in the verses that follow he explains why.
More stuff tends to clog up our time and attention and interest and energy.
We get the stuff.
We take care of the stuff.
We protect the stuff.
We try to figure out how to pay for the stuff.
We replace the stuff with newer stuff (and bigger loans).
        Etc.
And two things, crucial parts of healthy living, get pushed to the sidelines in the process.
Not always.
But they easily can get pushed to the sidelines.
Anybody remember what Jesus named as the two most important priorities in life?
        1. Love the Lord your God with all you’ve got.
        2. Ditto for your neighbor.
How can either of those happen when our lives are full of concern for stuff?
This coming Sunday, the last one before Advent and the arrival of the Christmas season, we’re going to wonder about that.
We’ll also be reading a warning that Moses gave to his people way back in Deuteronomy 8:1-18, thousands of years ago.  It would seem they also faced the temptation of stuff.
I guess things don’t change much over time, do they?
In this season when the glossy flyers come into my mailbox by the dozens, and slick ads fill up my TV and computer screens, Dear Lord please help me to keep my head screwed on straight.
        Maybe to want a little less.
        And share a little more with someone who has less than me.
        All in honor of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate, and who gave up EVERYTHING so that we could gain a rich eternity.
Oh yes – one way I’m doing that is with a gift list that contains this “want”:
                    World Renew Gift

Finding God – In Jesus

Over the recent Advent season we’ve looked at a number of ways that God can be found in our lives.

All of them were relevant to our situations (I hope!).
But NONE of them can begin to hold a candle to the most central, important, beautiful and clear way that God reveals himself…… and that is through the person of Jesus.
The Scripture guiding our meditation was John 1:1-14.

You are invited to listen in  by right-clicking on the sermon title, and choose “save link as”  to download the podcast to your mp3 player or ipod.  Please also feel free to share the podcast with anyone:

Finding God…. In Jesus

Or use the built-in web audio player below:

 

You may also download the study guide as a pdf:

Find God… In Jesus – the Study Guide

Finding God… In Affliction

This past Sunday we discussed how we can possibly find God in the midst of our personal suffering, and the suffering we witness around the world.  Are we supposed to express our suffering, or suppress it?  Is feeling angry or frustrated by suffering a sign that we lack faith?

Unfortunately, recording equipment decided to have a holiday.  So no podcast.
But we DO have the manuscript of the sermon where we wondered about these questions, and more.
You can download it here:
Finding God… In Affliction – KCRC sermon from Dec 14, 2014

And the study guide:
Finding God… In Affliction – Study Guide

Feel free to share these with anyone.

Finding God… In You

So, this Advent season we’re thinking about ways that God shows up in our lives.
And – if we’re even bothering to look for him… which is what Pastor Brian will be thinking about this week.

We’ve considered how God shows up to ordinary people in the very ordinary places and spaces of their lives.
We’re looking forward to exploring how God shows up in times of sorrow.
As well as in the moments of devotion and worship.
And, of course, we’ll see the miracle of God’s presence in the person of Jesus.

One more, that we won’t have time to consider during Sunday worship, at least not this season…..
Have you ever thought that perhaps God shows up to other people through you?
Yes, through little ol’ not-quite-perfect, not-overly-talented, can’t-walk-on-water you.
And me.
Really – I mean it. God reveals his stubbornly determined care and love and grace and mercy very often through those who are his followers, his disciples, his apprentices.
You and me.
And he can, as one person put it, shoot straight with a crooked stick.
In his sovereign grace, he can get through to people even with imperfect messengers like us.
Amazing!! And true.

That’s why 1 Corinthians speaks of the community of believers in Jesus as the “Body of Christ.”
A body that needs to be very careful to remain together around the Lord’s Table (ch.11).
And celebrate the variety of gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes (ch.12).
And love each other (ch.13).
And make gracious space for each other in worship (ch.14).

That’s why Jesus prays for the unity of believers in John 17.
So that their witness of love and unity in action will point straight to heaven’s throne.

And why James 1:27 reminds us to make sure that our faith is not just talk and hot air, but actually shows itself in tangible care for those in need.

Steve Green put this idea into music. He wrote:
                 You’re the only Jesus some will ever see.
                 You’re the only words of life some will ever hear.

I wonder how that plays out during this Christmas season?
I wonder if we’ll allow the whole thing of gifts and parties and family gatherings to so clog our minds and schedules that there’s no space left to be aware of the ones whose hearts are aching this time of year.

Perhaps they’ve lost someone this year, and there’s an empty chair in the room.
Perhaps in loneliness – no kids or significant other around.
Perhaps in poverty – can’t afford that little something special for their loved one.
Perhaps in age – old age has left them bewildered and tired.
Perhaps it’s just been a really tough year. And they are tired.

Will there be space in your schedule to take one such person out for a special coffee and give them the gift of your listening ear?

Or perhaps space at your table that they may join your family for the festive meal?

Or… well, you get the idea.

If not at this time of year, when WILL we be the presence of our Saviour into the lives of those God puts in path?

Will you join me in praying:
Holy Spirit of Jesus, help us to notice.
And to reach out a gentle hand when you cause us to notice.

Here’s a link to a cover of Green’s song done years ago by the Imperials:   You’re The Only Jesus

Finding God… In The Ordinary

It’s ADVENT – the beginning of a new church year.  A time for spiritual reflection and renewal of our devotion to the Lord Jesus.  A time for a new sermon series at Kemptville Christian Reformed Church.  We’ve titled it, “Finding God….”  and will explore some different ways that God shows up in our lives.

Today’s message was about him appearing to very ordinary people in some of the very ordinary corners of our lives.

Scripture was Genesis 28:10-22

You are invited to listen in  by right-clicking on the sermon title, and choose “save link as”  to download the podcast to your mp3 player or ipod.  Please also feel free to share the podcast with anyone:

Finding God…. In The Ordinary

Or use the built-in web audio player below:

 

You may also download the study guide as a pdf:

Find God… In The Ordinary – the Study Guide

Unexpected Generosity And Surprising Outcomes

Christmas – As we remember God’s great and eternal gift of gracious generosity in His Son, this time of year becomes a season where we can respond through giving to others.  Not just the little trinkets and junk to the usual suspects on our list, but some generous giving.  And maybe, just maybe… generosity to people that we can’t even name or visualize.
Many of you did that by participating in KCRC’s drive to fill boxes for Operation Christmas Child and for the Seafarers’ Mission.  People you’ll never meet will be blessed.  You gave WAY beyond your typical circle of friends and family – all in the name of Jesus.  Thank you!!
By the way, did you read the recent Banner  article about the blessing of precisely such giving?
So, when my Ontario-wide family gathered this past weekend in Haliburton we decided not to share gifts.  Instead we thought we’d do what some other clans are also doing as they share Christmas reunions: channel the money that would otherwise go to gifts towards an agency that ministers somewhere in this world in Jesus’ name.  Our family’s donations went to drill and rehabilitate wells for villages in Liberia, Nigeria and Haiti that have only polluted pools to drink from (through Lifewater.ca).
We’ve got no idea who will get the wells – their ages, or names or location.  But that doesn’t matter.  God knows.  And He will direct and bless.  And that’s all that counts.  What we do know, as we’ve done this for a bunch of years now, is that there is a growing legacy of people whose lives are safe and healthy because a few of us decided simply that we didn’t need more stuff.
Speaking of giving to those you don’t and won’t know – remember: you have no idea just how it will affect them.  It may be WAY bigger than you imagine.
Here’s an example.
Have you seen the recent viral West Jet christmas video?
The folks in blue decided to pull a fast one on passengers from Toronto and Hamilton heading out west. And…. well, watch the video:
Some blog grinches rag on them cynically.
I, though, am grateful….
One of the kids in that video was my great-nephew.
He was heading home out west after having to say goodbye to Grandpa here in Ontario.  The two of them had been together with the rest of us recently at Grandma’s (my sister) funeral.
Now, on the way home, a sad little boy got a wildly unexpected gift (he got hotwheels).
A little spark of joy in this lad’s life.
Thanks, West Jet!!
Wonderful, unexpected and undeserved generosity.
That’s called grace.
And that’s the Christmas spirit.
Remember: sometimes when you give, you have NO IDEA the impact.
Perhaps you and/or your family might also consider supplementing an exchange of gifts with a giving of a gift to a ministry that brings Christ’s presence somewhere in this world?