Category: Christmas (Page 1 of 2)

Candles, Carols, and… Snow!

Christmas Eve in Midland this year means clear skies, sunshine, and a forecasted high temperature in the mid 80s. And snow!

It’s become a GCR tradition to provide man-made synthetic¬† snow to add to the atmosphere surrounding our Christmas Eve service. Brandon and Tim have been putting everything together this week and made a bucketful of the white stuff for us to sample. It’s room temperature, it won’t stick or make snowballs, but it does look and feel like snow. Add it to the brass quartet in the courtyard and the carriage rides around the building, and it makes for a really special setting for a really special evening.

I’m personally excited for this Christmas Eve service. We always had one while I was preaching at Legacy, but we didn’t do it the ten years we were at Central. I’ve missed it. The candles, the Christmas hymns, the Advent wreath, the little kids, the special videos and communion meal, seeing everybody’s families and meeting new folks – all in celebration of the coming into this world of the light of Christ, the eternal light that gives life to all people!

If you’re anywhere in West Texas on Friday, I invite you to join us for this special Christmas Eve blessing at Golf Course Road Church. You can play in the snow and enjoy the family-friendly activities outdoors beginning at 3pm and then come inside for the worship service that starts at 4pm. And when you leave, be sure to take one of the free books we’re giving away to every family who attends.

By the way, we made the decision on Monday to switch from serving hot chocolate to serving a cold punch. Good call.

Merry Christmas!


Fifth Candle – CHRIST

This is the liturgy we’re using during our Christmas Eve service at GCR this Friday when we light the final candle of the Advent wreath. The candlelight service begins at 4:00 Friday afternoon.

Today we light the center candle of Advent, the candle that symbolizes the coming into this world of Jesus Christ.
This candle is white, to represent purity and the light that now shines into the darkness.
Jesus is born. Jesus has come. Jesus is God with us.
Jesus is our eternal hope. Our surpassing peace. Our everlasting joy. And the unequaled source of all love.
Christ reigns at the center of God’s salvation history. And he reigns at the center of our redeemed lives and of this community of faith.

Colossians 1:12-14



Christmas Revolution

As children of God, we know we’re called to imitate God and join him in doing the kind of work he is doing. Jesus came to this earth to show us the Father, to reveal to us God’s will and God’s ways. We look to Jesus to know how to think and act, how to believe and behave. We know how to do this – in theory anyway. We do it all the time.

We look at Jesus’ life and we say, “Yeah, we need to serve others. We need to feed the hungry and heal the sick and comfort the suffering.”

We study Jesus’ death and we decide, “Yes, we need to be sacrificial. We need to bear the burdens of those around us. We need to forgive others unconditionally.”

We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and we say, “Yes, we, too, are living a brand new life in Christ. Everything’s changed now. We see the whole world differently now and we leave our sins behind and take bold risks for the Kingdom because we know we’ll never die.”

You know, the birth of Jesus also reveals God to us. We know much more about the will and the ways of our Father when we consider carefully the birth of his Son. The Incarnation of our Lord Jesus shows us what God is doing and how he’s doing it. And it teaches us, it trains us, to join him in that work.

Mary’s song in Luke 1 tells us that the birth of Jesus is radical. Her Christmas song is a song about revolution. The coming of the Christ is about wrecking the structures and systems of this world and restoring an all-new Kingdom of God.

Her song claims that Jesus’ birth scatters the proud, brings down rulers, lifts up the humble, feeds the hungry, and heals the sick. When Almighty God comes to us as a baby in a barn, he is overthrowing the world’s order and society’s hierarchies and chains of command. He’s destroying the gap between the rich and the poor and breaking down all the barriers between us.

Jesus is born in Bethlehem to show us that we all belong to the same family. We’re all equally lacking and equally blessed. Together. Look at the manger scene in the Gospels. Young and old, rich and poor, male and female, blue collar shepherds and professional scholars, Jews and Gentiles – when Jesus is born, everybody’s in the picture! The angels announce that the good news of great joy is for all the people! God with us means God with all of us!

So what does this mean for disciples of Jesus right now?

It means we don’t play into the world’s games of dividing people according to gender or race or national politics or who somebody voted for or whatever else divides people today. We don’t get sucked into the name-calling and self-righteous judging of others. That is decidedly un-Christlike behavior. It’s un-Godly.

We concentrate on bringing into the Kingdom the outsiders, the foreigners, the poor, the sick, even our enemies. Enemies of our comfort zones. Enemies of our decency and order. Enemies of our property values. Enemies of our traditions. Why? Because when we were God’s enemies he sent his holy Son to this earth as a human baby in order to save us.

God with us means us with God. And that means we don’t strive for anything less.



Fourth Candle – LOVE

Each Tuesday in this space I am posting the coming Sunday’s Advent liturgy we’ll be using here at GCR.

Today we light the fourth candle of Advent, the candle that represents love.
This candle is purple, to remind us of the royalty of our coming King; it symbolizes the eternal power and authority of Jesus. But this week of Advent is about love.
The eternal love of our heavenly Father who sent his Son to restore us and all of creation.
The sacrificial love of Christ Jesus who left his home in glory to save us from our sins.
And the selfless love we share with one another as a result of the redeeming work of Christ.

John 3:16-17


Don’t Skip the Family Line

In reading the birth stories of Jesus during this Advent season, it’s important to not skip over the genealogies. I know your eyes glaze over at all the names in Matthew 1 and Luke 3; we tend to skip those lists of fathers and sons, who begat whom, and so on. These passages don’t make the program at the kids’ Christmas pageant.

But we need to pay attention to the names. We need to read the names out loud and consider the relatives of our Lord. We should reflect on their meaning for us as children of God and followers of the Christ.

Tamar and Judah, father and daughter-in-law; yuk. Rahab – you know her better by her last name: “The Harlot.” Ruth the Moabitess; in other words, the pagan, idol-worshiping Canaanite. David, Solomon, and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. Manasseh – the Bible says he did more evil than all the bad kings before him combined. This list is full of lying and murder, adultery and idol-worship. One of the lists traces Jesus’ line all the way back to Adam, the OG of all sinners! This is not a fitting genealogy for the Holy Son of God.

Actually, for the Holy Son of God, this is the perfect back story. For the promised Savior of the World, this is the perfect list of relatives. Almighty God sees this mess and he decides he’s going to join it. He’s going to become a part of it. Joseph and Mary fit right into this. Their situation was so awkward and messy, remember? Joseph was trying to figure out how to divorce Mary even as they were on their way to Bethlehem.

God through Christ sees this whole mess and he decides to belong to it. God does not distance from the messes in our lives. He does not withdraw from the mess in your life. He willingly steps into it. He joins us, he becomes us. He jumps right into the middle of the sin and pain and grief in order to redeem it.

That’s the really good news of great joy. No one is so lost and so broken. You are not so far gone or so messed up that you’re somehow beyond God’s reach. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone or how far away you are, how dark it might be or how bad it’s gotten. Our God specializes in the mess. I don’t care how messy your mess is, it doesn’t even phase our Lord Jesus! He’s in! He’s in with you. And for you.

Don’t skip over the genealogies. Those are real names of real people with really messy stories. You’re in there, too. And so is our Lord Jesus.



Third Candle – JOY

This is the liturgy we’ll be using at GCR this Sunday:

Today we light the third candle of Advent, the candle that symbolizes joy.
This candle is pink in color, which represents joy and marks a shift during the Advent season from an attitude of repentance to one of rejoicing and celebration.
The joy of the Lord builds within us as the coming of the Savior draws near.
We rejoice together in the gift of salvation through the birth of Jesus Christ.
And we joyfully praise God for the coming fulfillment of his promises.

Luke 2:7-14


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