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Christmas

Hearing God.

Hearing God.

The word “Listening” in Latin is ‘obedire'. 'Audire' means “listening with great attention”.

That’s where the word “obedience” comes from.  Jesus is called the obedient one, that means listener. 

The Latin word for not listening, being deaf, is “surdus”. If you are absolutely not listening, that is where the word “absurd” comes from. 

So it might be interesting to note that somebody who is not listening is leading an absurd life.

This insight comes from Henri Nouwen’s Advent Book, which offers really helpful guidance as we move through this sacred but Oh-So-Hectic Season. If this month feels more emotional, it’s because we all carry with us particular longings. Some are shaped by God, some not. But all of us long for EXACTLY what Christmas represents – God’s peace, hope, love, and Joy. And while Christ has come, the world – & all of us in it — are left longing for more. The Good News is that Hope has come. The more Good News is that we get to participate with God as agents of justice & mercy, compassion, generosity, & hope.

This month, we’re celebrating the anticipation of Christ’s coming with a series entitled, December Longings. Chances are the people closest to you are also longing for something more, different, and better. BE. LIGHT. Offer Hope, help, healing. Invite them into faith and community

Speaking of Heaven on Earth, in the last two months, Mission Hills has been able to leverage almost $3000 from the Good Neighbor Fund!! All people in significant need. Your attendance ($1 set aside for every person in worship attendance) and your attention to the needs in our city MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE! 

  • A single mom who’s husband is incarcerated, driving for Lift, needed car repair

  • Dental care for immigrant friend

  • Rental assistance for hospitalized & out of work burmese family 

  • Grandparents left to raise 9 grandkids that two drug-dependent daughters abandoned, 

  • ESL books for 10 students taught by our own people

Hope has come. You’re part of it. We all still carry longings but, when we bind together to practice and share a living faith, Christ Reigns!

Longing for...Something

Longing for...Something

There’s a question that comes up a lot in my dealing with people from all walks of life. It’s the same question asked in so many different ways. Some struggle to find the words to ask directly, perhaps unsure of what they’re longing for. Others are more direct. Some people need reassurance while others are simply curious. 

The question is this, “Why do you believe?”

It’s a worthy question. And here’s my answer: I don’t simply believe because I am afraid of going to hell and being separated from the Light & Love of God when I die. I don’t believe because of the evidence of the factual and extra biblical support of the resurrection.  And, I don’t merely believe because the evidence of the Gospel is logically superior (to me) to all other religions. Those are all really significant and legitimate reasons to believe that have led countless people to personal allegiance with Christ.

Ultimately, I believe is because…in a world full of greed & corruption, excess & scarcity…in a world full of cancer, abuse, wildfires, racism, flooding & famine…in a world full of broken relationships & loss of loved ones, Christ comes to me as says, “you never have to be alone”.

This is the priceless gift of the gospel. Jesus is saying, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. No matter your doubts, fears, mis-steps OR your strength, wit, & smarts...It doesn’t matter how alone you are, what decision you’re facing, or what you’re going to have face in the coming days…He promises, “I am with you.” That’s why I believe. The option to live alone is always on the table. But, I choose infinite companionship with Christ.

I think we all long to find meaning, if not the sacred, at Christmas. To that end, I want to guide us this month through Advent by addressing some of our universal longings. Longings for Peace…for Joy…for Hope…for Love. All of these came in the form of a Christ child 2000 years ago but the promise of Christmas is that God’s with us and he will return.

Visit our Resource Page for explanation and Advent resources to guide your home and hearts through your Christmas longings.

Something About Mary

Something About Mary

Every year, we re-read the Christmas story…shepherds, wise men, angels, Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. It’s beautiful but it’s more than historical, especially when it comes to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She is unique in that, while a virgin, conceived and gave birth to the Christ child. It’s also tempting to think of Mary as unique simply because God chose her and not me. Yet, if we allow the Mary's story to end there, we miss the greater significance. Maybe a better way to view Mary is a prototype of God’s plan for every person in the world!  More than “just” the virgin birth, she represents the hope of Gospel: Christ In Us!    

Paul writes to the Galatians the point of the Christian life, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”  Paul’s singular desire is that we become people who bear and express the life of Christ. Like a mother with labor pains, I don’t want you to just look/sound/act like Jesus but to be the actual presence of the resurrected Christ. 

That’s the Gospel! Christ formed in you. Jesus paints a picture of vine and branches and invites us to “abide in me” (John 15).  He’s saying, allow your life to be filled with mine. This is the goal of Christian life! We do that that and we bear much fruit!

WHAT IF…this were your starting point? Everyday you know that Christ lives in you. What if…you went into each day with the hope, power and confidence of the resurrected Christ? Mary made Jesus’ arrival possible some 2000 years ago. But, we can hasten Christ’s return as we live into the God’s invitation of Christ in us.  Welcome to Advent!