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Hillyard Weekly

December 5, 2018

Early Christmas

I was once asked a question that required a bit of reading in order to find an answer. I was trying to research the correct answer to the question of whether Mary, the mother of Jesus, told her mother about the visit of the angel and her life-changing decision to follow the wishes of God. As I was reading several things came across my mind that made the story once again come to life for me. What an opportunity this was for a young girl who thought her life was all laid out for her in a normal, somewhat mundane way. She would grow up to be a mature and chased woman, then be joined in marriage to a mature and chased man, have a family and live happily ever after. All of this was falling into place for Mary and literally out of the blue comes this message from God Who addresses her as “favored one” that has found special recognition with Him. Such a greeting would be used only for someone of high social standing and not a simple, young (but mature) woman! After all, who would she be to the God of the universe? He goes on to calm her fears with the standard line, “Do not be afraid,” which probably would not have eased the tenseness of the moment, especially when it is followed by the reason for Him coming and the real message He had for Her. “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son; and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father, David; He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Talk about Christmas coming early! Mary got the news months before the black Friday sales or the countdown specials. Just think of how such news would come to anyone of us at that age with the plans she had set in motion for her life. In that brief span of time she was contemplating whether to follow what seemed to be the will of God or go through with the commitments she had already made to those closet to her. Some Christmas present!

Pastor Ron

 

December 12, 2018

Noteworthy

As we approach Christmas we tend to think in “Christmas mode.” What can I get for…? How should we plan all the activities…Why are Christmas such a popular cross-culture event? Well, the last one may not be on your thought list but it is on mine. It is recognition of the birth of Christ, but people have made it other things to try and reduce the sting of just how magnanimous it would be if God’s Son was really born as a baby human. What is intriguing is that gifts are exchanged. Why gifts if it were not to recognize the gift given us by God? John tells us, “And the Word became flesh,” and also, “In the fullness of time God brought forth His Son.” Are the gifts of Christmas a reminder to us? God does one better in bringing to us our salvation in Christ. He was born of “lowly estate.” He was poor. The first to hear the news were card-carrying “lowly estaters,” as well. Christ was born poor, lived a life of hard work, never amassing much of this world’s goods, died on a convicts cross and counted it all as a worthwhile success. While you are giving those gifts and singing the carols be excited as a believer that you understand their significance in history and to our future.

Pastor Ron

 

December 19, 2018

It’s That Time of Year Again

It’s that time of year once again, Christmas. The arguments over how we can express our faith publicly, where we can voice what the whole celebration is about. It is the season, more than others, when the politically correct folks are stressed more than the eighteen hour sale shoppers. Overlooking such mundane things one can feel a sort of excitement that comes with being with family and friends. Time spent visiting, caroling, eating, and above all, remembering Christmas’ past. These times together are extended by those who are not close in proximity but send the wishes in cards and those “family letters.” As we received and read these greetings one thought has come home to me-the tremendous blessing God gives us in family, both natural and church and friends. This was born out in the many cards we have received. Here are a few of the lines: “One of the pleasures of Christmas is remembering you and wishing you all the best at this wonderful season. And know that you’re kept in the warmest of our prayers for His blessings for you.” “Celebrating with you at Christmas, knowing how very special you are and always will be to Him.” To truly realize what God has given us in each other is to believe that God is truly interested in providing our needs. From this season where we celebrate the birth of the One Who is the picture of the Father, the definition of love itself, let’s renew our commitment to Him as our Lord and Savior and to each other to support, love and cherish. “I will sing of the loving-kindness of the Lord forever,” Psalm 89:1. Thank You, Lord for helping us remember You, and those You have placed around us at this season of hope.

Pastor Ron