November 29 Devotional

Let’s begin this morning with our first Christmas song of the year…

Hark The Herald with King of Heaven Come Down

Scripture Memory Verse – Throughout advent, we are going to be working to learn John 1:14. I’m going to give you the whole verse, but the plan is to learn the first half over the next two weeks and then add the second half to it. However you want to go about this, I invite you to learn this verse with us.

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Question/Discussion

  1. What are some things you are hopeful for this Christmas?
  2. What makes these important to you?

Intro to Advent:

The message translation of John 1:14 starts by saying “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.” It is this idea of Jesus moving “into the neighborhood that has been motivating us in our plans for the advent season.

Into the neighborhood is the reason for the “Neighborhood Christmas Cheer Drive.” Not only does it bless those who will receive the food and blessing bags collected, it is also meant to connect us with the neighborhood around the church (apartments and businesses) and also the neighborhood around your homes.

Our outdoor Christmas Eve Service is meant to connect us with those living in the apartment to the North of the church as we invite them to join us from their balconies on Christmas Eve.

Even our sermon series for advent will land under the title “Into the Neighborhood.”

But when Jesus moved into the neighborhood it was not just to befriend people, it was to bring hope to the world. Isaiah 61:1-3 says…

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

This is the same portion Jesus would read in the synagogue in Nazareth as recorded in Luke 4: 18-21 when he says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus says it with even more clarity…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

As we celebrate the first week in Advent we acknowledge Jesus as not just a messenger of hope, for he is the hope that has moved into the neighbourhood.

Let’s sing as we celebrate Jesus our hope…

What A Beautiful Name with O Come Let Us Adore Him

Message (sorry, no recording this week)

Every time I have moved I can remember having help from other. Whether they helped carry boxes, drive a truck, supply a meal, clean a house, there have always been others involved. When Jesus moved into the neighbourhood, he needed a bit more help than your standard move, he needed a mom!

Let’s start this series by reading from Luke 2:26-38 to see how Mary was invited to be part of Jesus’ move into the neighborhood.

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Before we look at Mary’s involvement in this move, let’s remind ourselves the central figure of this story is still Jesus. Verse 32-33 says about Jesus that He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Jesus is not merely our hope for a season, he is our eternal hope as we are told that his kingdom will never end. Things will come and go in our lifetime, but Jesus is a guarantee of hope for eternity. We may hope for a lot of things during this season, but our ultimate hope is found in the person of Jesus.

But, just because he is our hope, doesn’t mean he doesn’t invite others into bringing this hope into the neighbourhood. In Mary’s case, God spoke through the angel Gabriel inviting her to be the mother of the coming Messiah. To be chosen by God to play any part in his plans is significant and we read that Mary had found favour with God.

It isn’t that she applied for this opportunity, God didn’t do an open call for volunteers, he simply chose a young God-fearing girl and invited her to be a part of the plan for the Word to become flesh and blood and move into the neighbourhood.

There is no way she fully understand how this was all going to work, but there was a willingness on her part to be used by him to bring Jesus into the world. What was key though, was her willingness to trust God and partner with him in this.

Luke 1:38 says, “I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

This is what God asks of us, to be willing participants in bringing the hope of Jesus into the neighborhoods we find ourselves living. I think we want to do this, but I think it is a challenge right now as the temptation is to be very inward focussed. We’ve experienced a lot of change and disappointment over the past 9 months. I’m concerned that it is taking our focus off of our hope in Jesus as I see signs of bitterness setting in for many.

But church, we need to remember our hope in Jesus. The good news, the life, the hope, that he has brought us is not lost in all of this. In fact, I would argue that the hope of Jesus  shines brighter in times like these.

The world is looking for hope in anything that will return things to normal, and by normal, I mean what was known to be comfortable. What if God wants to use the discomfort of these days to bring the hope of Jesus to those who so desperately need it?

Here’s the thing though, he is inviting us, much like he invited Mary, to be an active participant as messengers of this hope to our neighbours. Are we confident enough in Jesus? Is our hope secure enough in him that we will respond to him as willing participants in something we don’t understand, but we trust in him and are confident that the hope our world needs is the person of Jesus?

Before singing the next song, take some time to pray. Take a step in this prayer to say yes to God’s invitation and ask him how to take him into your neighbourhood this week.

Joy to the World with Our God Saves

Before we close, I just want to share a few announcements:

  1. Christmas Cheer Drive

On December 5, we’re going to have a “Christmas Cheer Drive”, collecting food and Blessing Bags for distribution in our community. If you’re familiar with our Cart to Cupboard basket we’ve had in the foyer, this year it’s more of a Car to Cupboard. No matter your current situation, we’re going to have a way for you to participate – from us coming to you, to you collecting throughout your neighbourhood.

  1. Jaffray Missions Offering

November 29th – December 13th we will be collecting a special offering for missions. This offering will be distributed to our local and global ministry partners before the end of December. This is a great way to be generous during advent. If you are able to give over and above your regular offering, we invite you to do so by indicating “Missions” through your preferred giving option (E transfer, Canada Helps, Envelope). Thank you in advance for your generosity.

  1. Christmas Eve

We are planning two services for Christmas Eve. The first will be at 6:30pm and will be an outdoor service. This will allow us to have up to 100 people gathered together AND we will be inviting our neighbours in the apartment to join us from their balconies.

The second service will be a ZOOM service starting at 8pm. This will allow those who are not able to join us in person a way to gather and worship together on Christmas Eve too.

  1. Kids Zoom – a reminder that Zoom Kids Church is this Wednesday, 4:15-5:15 PM for those Preschool to Grade 3, and from 7-8 PM for those Grades 4-8. Keep an eye out for the link that will be sent out from the church office.
  2. Youth – Youth continues Friday at 7pm. Watch for an email to RSVP your attendance. Our primary youth leaders this year will be Amy & Cam Golberg and Josh and Charline Cleaver.
  3. Prayer Meeting – This Tuesday night at 7 pm will be our BACLife focussed prayer meeting. This will be a hybrid format meeting – both in person at the church, and online via Zoom. (link will be emailed on Tuesday)
  4. Office schedule – The Office is open Monday to Thursday. Visits continue to be by appointment only at this time, so be sure to call ahead or email. Katie can be reached at production@bayridgealliance.org, Pastor Greg can be reached at groberts@bayridgealliance.org, Pastor Dave can be reached at dbrown@bayridgealliance.org, and Pastor Cam can be reached at cgolberg@bayridgealliance.org

Offering:

I encourage you to do two things with your giving that may help a little.

  1. Do your giving each week as part of this devotional/worship time. I know it is not exactly the same thing, but it does help us view our giving as worship rather than simply a financial transaction
  2. Take time to pray as you give. Thank God for what he has given to you, acknowledge your trust in him for tomorrow, and tell him why you give to him and the work of his church.

Offering Options

  • Best – E-Transfer (no fees)
    • finance@bayridgealliance.org is the email address you will need to make an e-transfer
    • Please include your first and last name in the memo box
    • If you know your envelope number please include it in the memo box (*Do not include the # sign as it will not accept that)
  • Still good, but with fees – Canada Helps

Thank you for honouring God by supporting the Church.

Benediction

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’