Why Did The Angels Appear To The Shepherds?

Of all the kinds of people in the world why was it that shepherds were chosen as the ones to hear the message of Jesus’s birth directly from the angels?

There are qualities pictured by what a shepherd does that represent or symbolize the kinds of things that, if we can cultivate them in ourselves, make us capable of receiving and sharing “good tidings of great joy”. If we can be like a shepherd to others we may find that things shift in our perspective and sense of purpose and happiness in life.

This Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent. You are warmly welcome to worship with us this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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The Role of Joseph in the Story of Christmas

Jesus Christ was not the son of Joseph. The whole Christian religion revolves around the truth that Jesus was born of a virgin, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and therefore could be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

It seems that Joseph’s part in the Divine birth is a minor one. Yet he has qualities worth mentioning: justice, obedience, prudence, ability; and his role in this greatest of all stories is worth a second look.

Join us this Sunday as we take a look at the role of Joseph in the story of the Lord’s birth.

Worship 10:30 a.m.

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The Power Of Hope

This Sunday the subject will be Hope. Zacharias and Elizabeth were promised by an angel that they would have a baby who would be the one that would prepare the way for the Messiah. They were way past the age for having children but they still hoped and prayed and lived as commanded. At long last their hopes were fulfilled in a way greater than they could have hoped for.

How can we keep hope alive and not give up on our dreams? “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3)

We hope to see you Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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Giving Thanks For Divine Providence

This Sunday we will celebrate Thanksgiving. This year we will focus on gratitude for how we are led, no matter how things may appear, to states of greater and greater happiness. As the prophet Jeremiah writes: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

And as Emanuel Swedenborg wrote in the work Secrets of Heaven, “Those who trust in the Divine know that all things are moving towards an everlasting state of happiness, and that no matter what happens at any time to them, it contributes to that state. People in the stream of providence are being carried along constantly towards happier things, whatever appearance the means may present.”

Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving!

You are invited to worship together this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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Make A Gratitude Adjustment

As Thanksgiving gets near we begin to think about what we are grateful for. This is a good tradition. But what if we worked on developing a greater awareness around being grateful and opening our eyes everyday to the blessings that are all around us? Would we find life to be more enjoyable? As the saying goes, “It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude, but it’s gratitude that brings us happiness.”

You are warmly invited to worship this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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Love Over Ego, Part 6: Love Wins

In the next part of this story Daniel is raised to high office by the new king, Darius the Mede, but jealous rivals trick Darius into issuing a decree which condemns Daniel to death. Hoping for Daniel’s deliverance, but unable to save him, the king has him cast into the den of lions. Daniel is protected in the den of lions because he was “found innocent”. The next morning he is taken up out of the den and his accusers are thrown into the den in his place (they did not fare so well) The king makes a decree that Daniel’s God is to be respected and honored.
 
Even though our conscience, pictured by Daniel, gets more prominent and stronger, in order for it to strengthen further we will have to endure temptations. Temptations are combats within us between the Lord and the influences of the hells in an attempt to try and break the grip selfishness has on us.
 
When faced with the challenge before him Daniel doesn’t stop going the Lord in prayer, but continues his practice. When we can overcome in temptation, though it is a difficult struggle (Daniel in the den of lions) those hellish influences that had attacked us are removed (like the accusers in the story). Prayer helps in times like these – prayers asked to the Lord to help us to get through temptations. Not all struggles are bad. They can have the effect of strengthening us and building us up.
 
Like Daniel, don’t stop praying. 
 
You are welcome to worship with us Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
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Love Over Ego, Part 5: The Writing On The Wall

The story of Daniel continues now under a new king, Belshazzar. This new king hasn’t learned the lessons of his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar and acts recklessly and selfishly. He throws a decadent party in the palace during which a disembodied hand writes a message on the wall. Belshazzar is completely overcome with fear and calls for his counselors to give him the interpretation of the message, promising them wealth and honor. They cannot interpret the message, however his queen tells him about Daniel’s abilities. Daniel is called in and interprets the dream. The dream tells of Belshazzar, as to his character, being numbered, weighed and found wanting or lacking. He is killed that very evening.

We have all heard the saying, “The writing is on the wall.” This story is where that saying originates. It is a story for us to consider in the context of our spiritual development. Are we taking the messages from the Word, keeping them in our thoughts, taking them to heart and putting them into practice? That last one is the most difficult. This story reminds us  of the importance of moving the teachings past just our thinking and willing and into practice.

Please join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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Love Over Ego, Part 4: Humility Over Shame

In Daniel Chapter 4 Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a great tree that shelters the whole world, but in his dream an angelic “watcher” appears and decrees that the tree must be cut down and that for seven years he, Nebuchadnezzar, will have his human mind taken away and will eat grass like an ox. This comes to pass, and at the end of his punishment Nebuchadnezzar praises God.

There is a well know saying, “Pride goes before a fall.” We see this played out in the life of Nebuchadnezzar. He is warned in a dream of his fall from power but continues to see the strength and size of the kingdom of Babylon as a reflection of his own greatness and strength. It is all about him. He is driven from his kingdom and lives as an animal for seven years until he awakens from the drunkenness of his pride and recognizes God as the source of all that is good. The Lord’s goal is that we may live forever in a state of happiness. This can’t happen if we are full of ourselves. It may happen that difficult things happen to us (are permitted only because there is no other way) for the sake of the long view: our eternal happiness.

Join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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Love Over Ego, Part 3: Confidence Over Arrogance

In the book of Daniel, Chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar made a ninety foot tall gold image and compelled all to worship the image or be thrown into a burning fiery furnace. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, given the names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego by Nebuchadnezzar, refuse to worship any other God but Jehovah. Enraged by their refusal Nebuchadnezzar commanded that the furnace be heated seven times more than usual and that they be bound and thrown in. They were unharmed in any way.

Our ego (Nebuchadnezzaar) continues to try to turn everything and everyone toward itself and becomes infuriated when that doesn’t happen. One of the first temptations we face when we try to resist the promptings of our ego is the desire to turn the truths we know (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) into servants of our ego rather than allowing them to point us toward correcting our behaviors and a life of service toward others. Do we trust the Lord and His Word or do we trust ourselves and our own intelligence? Do we get angry when things don’t go our way and people don’t do what we want?

We will explore this story more fully on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. We hope to see you then!

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Love Over Ego, Part 2: Humility Heals

Do you ever feel like the person in this photo… working really hard on something but it isn’t making any difference? This is what it is like when our motivation is self or ego gratification. The result is frustration rather than gratification.

In the story of Daniel there is a part of us pictured by king Nebuchadnezzar – a tyrant that wants what he wants and threatens and acts out when he doesn’t get it and lives in a state of anxiety about the future. There is also a part of us pictured by Daniel – the part of us that is calm and trusting and can make wise and loving choices when given a chance and given a voice. There is a battle we are engaged in. The battle of which one we will act from and listen to.

Join us this week as we look into how to quiet the tyrant king and let the wise and loving Daniel guide who we are going to be.

See you Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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