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Author: Jim Howard

Advent 2016 – Christmas Day

“We are creatures made for heaven; but we are born of this earth. We love the beauty of this world; but we sense there is something more behind that beauty. Our longing for that ‘something’ pulls us outside of ourselves. Striving for ‘something more’ is a part of the greatness of the human spirit, even when it involves our failure and suffering. In the words of St. John Paul II, something in the artist, and by extension in all human beings, ‘mirrors the image of God as Creator.’ We have an instinct to create beauty and new life that comes from our own Creator.” (Robert Barron)

As our time for celebrating Advent comes to a close with the beautiful majesty of Christmas day, let us ever be mindful for the reason that Christ came… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

Dear Lord, help us to mirror your beauty to a culture around us that desperately needs to see and experience that beauty. Help us to glorify you among our friends. Use us to help them understand the true reason that Jesus came. Amen.

Merry Christmas!
Jim Howard, pastor

Advent 2016 – Christmas Eve

Over fall break this year, our family (and my dad!) traveled to the Grand Canyon to hike down to Phantom Ranch… Yes, the bottom of the Canyon. The Colorado River. This has been on Jon’s bucket list for several years. It was NOT on mine.

Jon gave me the out, but in the end two things caused me to agree. First, Jon was SO excited about it and, second, I was not about to send my family off and not accompany them. At this point I am hoping that I’ve painted a pretty clear picture!

Anyway, finally a couple of weeks in advance of our trip, things became real. At one point I told my friends the hymns I wanted at my funeral. (I was only half joking by the way.) Through my panic, friends were calling me and texting me to tell me that they were praying. Hmmmm… In my panic, I realized that I had not given this trip to God. I was just doing what I needed to do to get this trip checked off the list. I started praying. Every time I worried, I prayed. When I was packing, I prayed. When we were driving to school and talking about our trip, we prayed.

The trip was the trip of a lifetime for our family. A little hike for some. A major accomplishment for others, but we did it… TOGETHER. At one point, while I am just simply trying to breathe, Mary Grace started singing “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord!” Jac (the pack mule) decided to complete the last mile and a half behind me. (The rest of the trip he was a mile ahead of me. Truth!)

This trip was a gift. It was a brilliant reminder to me that God’s got it all figured out. The easy stuff. The hard stuff. The fun stuff. The tough stuff. I have to choose to rest in his peace.

As we enter this Advent season, I pray that you can rest in the peace that only God can provide.

Anneke Crowe, children’s ministry director

Advent 2016 Day 27

The one tradition that has developed for our family during the Christmas season balances around two birthdays.

The first is Sandy’s on December 5th when we get our tree and decorate it, which for our family basically begins the Christmas season. The second is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th when we take down the tree and the Christmas season winds down.

I have not really figured out any definite spiritual significance for the first birthday, other that it just seems to be about the maximum time a tree will last without disintegrating. But the second, for any believer has great significance. For without the birth of Jesus, our belief in the one true God is not possible. 

As Isaiah 9:6 foretold: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I am in awe that we serve a living God. One who fulfilled every prophecy, who loved us so much, that he became flesh so that we might live. So, during this Advent season, whatever your family tradition may be, remember that our God lives and he loves every single one of us.
 
Brett Confer, elder

Advent 2016 Day 25

Do you get stressed at Christmas time? What is the cause of this stress? Is it the expectation of finding that perfect gift for a friend or loved one? Is it the number of people that will descend on our communities during the season? Is it loneliness, depression, or a sense of loss that you may have experienced in your life? Some of us love the advent season, yet for others it can be a very challenging time.

One thing that can help you, regardless of the source of your stress is to worship and praise God for the precious gift of Jesus. Just as the angels praised God at Jesus’ birth in the lowly manger. Luke 2: 13-14 says: Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

Remember during this season that you are one of those on whom his favor rests. Take comfort in knowing that God loves you and you are one of his creations. Praise him for the gift of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.

Lord,
All praise is given to you! Please help us remember that your favor rests on us just as it did on Jesus on the night he was born in that manger in Bethlehem. We are grateful that you created us and praise you for your plan for our eternal life.

In Jesus name,
Amen.

Rich Ferris, elder secretary

Advent 2016 Day 24

As we prepare for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our lives can be very busy, not only with the holiday, but with our day-to-day lives.

One of the things I look forward to is spending some time with my family and friends. It is easy to get caught up in all we have, and how blessed we are that we tend to lose focus on others that are around us who may not be enjoying the time of year or are alone. Not only is it the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but also to remember there are others who may not have family close by with whom to celebrate the holidays.

We all need to remember to reach out to others who may be alone during this time. Whether it be a coworker, friend, neighbor or one of our DCC family members. Find someone to invite over for a meal, invite to Christmas Eve services, or just to spend time with and visit to see how they are doing. It is great to spend time with our own family, but just as important to love on others who may need it and not have family close by.

As I get older I find I get more out of giving to others versus getting caught up in all the commercial aspects of Christmas. After all, what is a better gift than spending time with someone who may be alone during this season, and give them the gift of love and time. If you are not able to be close to your family this Christmas, remember all of us are a big family in Christ’s eyes.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Rick Nelson, elder

Advent 2016 Day 22

It is apparent, that by definition, the word “ADVENT” refers to the season observed in many western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus. So with this picture in mind I look at my own life knowing for sure that Jesus Christ is coming soon.

As I walk with the Lord daily this holiday season, I am reminded that I am loved unconditionally and I can rely on Jesus to fill all my needs through him. I am truly blessed and grateful for a great living situation, an appreciative employer, a very loving and supportive wife, and a brother and mother who live close by.

A verse that is one of my favorites and meaningful this advent season is Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

May the grace of the Lord be with you this Christmas.

Mark Williams, elder

Advent 2016 Day 21

READING: Psalm 119:12-16, 22-24, 33-40, 92-94, 111-112, 171-176

It seems appropriate this winter to study some from the OT since these ideas would have found their deepest cultural meanings in the Hebrew language of the story of the Jewish people.

Their common words for “joy” came from the consonantal root “Sh-M-Kh” which meant gladness, blessedness, and merriness of heart. While it could be a momentary or passing feeling, it was often used of events or states of being resulting from ceremonial celebration and thanksgiving in their festivals of worship, the divine gifts of children or crops, victory over enemies, etc.

In other words, the emotional experience resulted from realized forms of blessing given by God as a reward or positive consequence of faithful effort by the people involved. If the happiness came following unfaithfulness or laziness, the “joy” was spoken of negatively as if stolen in arrogance or maliciousness.

What does that mean to you? As you imagine relating to the “joy” of Joseph and Mary during the First Advent, think more of the appropriate pride with humility and thankfulness that comes from a mission accomplished. While circumstances remained difficult and contrary, they could rejoice with each other and a few close family members in their sustained obedience to the prophetic words from the angels. If no one else had confidence in their calling, they held tight to their charge and to each other.

Receive confidence from them, and be JOYFUL in your mission while awaiting his Second Advent!

Mark Hill, pastor

Advent 2016 Day 20

Looking for a way to spread holiday joy this year? Here’s a simple, and hopefully easy, way to bring a little joy and maybe a smile to someone’s face.

When we were younger, we went back to New Jersey every Christmas to be with our families. I was always busy with work, and assuming I would have time after arriving, I would put off much of my shopping until we arrived. While this is the absolutely worst time to shop, what I realized is that it’s also the worst time for the employees at just about every kind of store. As if the people in New Jersey were not already pushy and impatient, it was far worse as Christmas approached. I’m not sure how it started, but I made it my mission to go shopping on these most crowded days and be kind to everyone, especially the clerks and other store employees.

Sometimes it would as simple as letting someone have that parking space, or just offering to help find something in the store when no employees were available (and the shopper assuming I was a store employee). Many times I was looked at skeptically, and was proud (and humbled) when someone would say “you’re not from around here, are you?” Of course, some of that may have been my Colorado-style outerwear.

The great part is that even though you may bring a little joy to them, you’ll be the one really blessed by it!

Rob Strode, elder

Advent 2016 Day 18

The beginning of this winter has been warm, to say the least. Usually Summit County has had a couple of months of cold temps and snow by Thanksgiving. While many people have really enjoyed the extended summer, it has surely been out of the norm.

What was really interesting was watching everyone’s reactions when the first real snowstorms made their way into the county in the last few weeks and the temperatures started to drop. Some folks were giddy and acted like it was their birthday. Many in the ski business expressed huge waves of relief that the weather seemed to be finally turning. Radio announcers talked about the coming snow between every song. It seemed to be the topic in almost every conversation at the checkout line at the grocery store.

This has me thinking about Advent. How much more should I be looking forward to the coming Christ. I want my excitement and desire for Christmas to be off the charts. I pray that in this often-times-too-busy holiday season, I really bring Jesus to the forefront of my daily thought. I want to be seeking him much more than the next powder day and feel the joy and confidence that the Savior came for me.

Jeff White, elder treasurer

Advent 2016 Day 17

The story of the birth of Jesus is an incredible story. It’s more than a story about Joseph and Mary, the manger, the Wise Men, shepherds, angels, and a star. It’s about hope, redemption, and promises. Why promises? The promise of redemption was made to Abraham (Gen 12:3).

Mary refers to the promise in Luke 1:54-55, He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.

The promise was fulfilled with the birth of Jesus. God sent his Son… 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 (John 3:16). Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for a broken world. The birth of Jesus was a guarantee of other promises.

He will never leave us… (Heb. 13:5). He is coming again! God keeps his promises.

Loren Vawser, elder