Living Expectantly: Expecting Tomorrow

Isaiah 40:1-11

Expecting the Unexpected Future
We’re looking into a new year that, as always, is full of unknowns. Politics, war, revolution, science, medicine, culture, economy, creativity, racial tensions, justice, decline, renewal.
A basic challenge of life is dealing with time. Our faith is very present-oriented. We are called to love and serve here and now. “I was hungry and you fed me...” (Mt 25:35) “Do not be anxious about tomorrow...” (Mt 6:34). I want to live this moment as a child of God, a follower of Jesus, and trust God for the future. Leave it in his capable hands.

Living Expectantly: Christ’s Birth & Grown-ups

Isaiah 11:1-9

A Branch from a Stump
We’re reflecting on some important passages in Isaiah’s prophecies that resonate powerfully in the birth and life of Jesus. We began with the sign of the birth of a child: “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (7:14); “to us a child is born, to us a son is given (9:6). God’s unique creative power breaking in to begin new life: Sarah & Isaac...Mary & Jesus. 
But in Isaiah’s day, with faithless king Ahaz, it wasn’t enough. He wanted military help now, not God’s promises with whatever signs. It was the superpower Assyria who could bring in the god of war. Ahaz sold his nation and religion to Assyria for immediate war help.

Learning Expectation: Christ's Birth & Children

Isaiah 9:1-7

Did you grow up as a kid looking forward to Christmas?
Different cultures have different expectations. I did. Not too much religious stuff. But the tree and the gifts? Yes! We like to give and receive gifts. It's easily distorted, commercialized, but a good instinct. (Think about giving: Google "Advent Conspiracy" for a wider vision of giving gifts.)
Part of what we love in the holiday as children is the thrill of expectation. Part of what we love as parents is watching and fostering our children's expectation. Yes, it's a rather artificial ritual, but it can point to a deep truth, rich and complex: learning to live life expectantly -- in hope. Helping a child to live expectantly, creatively, in hope is a great gift. The gifts the Wise Men bring symbolize the hope and expectation that they believe are embodied in that unknown child, without status, but marked by signs for the future.

The Candle of Hope: God's Surprising Sizzle Reel

John 1:1-14

This week, Jeff Walling is our guest speaker for this week.
Jeff is from Pepperdine University in California, where he directs the Youth Leadership Initiative. He is an outstanding preacher who has led congregations on both the east coast and west and is widely called on to speak at conferences and lectures. Jeff delivers the message on HOPE for the first week of Advent. Download the message above, and listen to Jeff as he illuminates the HOPE found in the story of God coming to be with us in Jesus.