Posted by: Ed | December 9, 2009

HELLO, GOD – LIGHT & The Weekend that Was

This last weekend we kicked off “HELLO, GOD” series. It is the series that is leading us to the Christmas celebration.

While I was putting this series the question came to me, “why do we do this every year?” I know that most, not all, churches do series in December that leads up to Christmas. It’s not mandatory; it’s not like Jesus Himself or any New Testament writer prescribed it.

In churches that are a more traditional or liturgical, they follow the part of the church calendar called “Advent”. For a pretty thorough explanation see this article. click here.

Here’s the answer I came up with. Not exactly erudite, but it works for me: remember the eating an elephant joke?
“How do you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time”

I think that’s why they came up with advent. That’s why it seems obvious to churches like ours, at least to me, that we should do a Christmas series. This event, this movement of God in history is BIG, it’s an elephant. For it to become more than a sentimental season, for it to become real in lives, for us to wrap our minds, hearts & souls around this elephant, it’s going to take several bites. That’s why it never gets old. That was I think the practical pastoral impulse that led the early church fathers to institute holy days & seasons. So we could get our heads around the elephants.

This series will be out of John 1:1-18, commonly called “The Prologue.” It’s where John introduces some of the themes of his gospel. Nancy Regas did a great job of interpretive reading. I love it when we just read the scripture together.


WORSHIP – I love the way our team gradually weaves in some very hip sounding Christmas music without turning it into a “sing along” kind of feel. It’s hard for churches with our musical style to do Christmas music, but our people are nailing it.

MY JOURNEY INTERVIEW – One of the best things about the services was Karen Olson’s my journey. She became a Christ follower while working at one of grocery stores when they were on strike. A couple people from Journey were walking the picket lines with her and the rest of the workers &felt prompted to invite her. Becky Toth began to give her CDs of the messages to listen to & Lauren Fai’ai got the whole picket line to come to a Friday service one weekend. Karen eventually gave her life to Christ, was baptized along with her daughters that she brought. I love the way she described becoming a Christ follower. Something like this: “I grew up believing in A GOD, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Then I realized that God UNDERSTOOD ME!” What a great lead into Christmas, to incarnation! Hopefully we’ll all make the asks that God puts in front of us.

SELAH – We had an amazing Selah (our about 1x / month worship & prayer night) this weekend. Right before it started someone we prayed with last month said the lesions on her liver had prayed for at the last Selah had totally vanished & that the Dr said she was good to go. So after a few songs of worship that seemed to focus on giving God glory, we asked people to just stand up & report on how the glory of God was manifesting in their lives. There were so many stories of God’s miraculous intervention
– Deliverance from heroin
– Deliverance from Alcohol addiction
– Healings in addition to the one I mentioned
– Peace restored between Ex-spouses
– Stories of transformation
– A high school guy reported that his fam (his mom & siblings) were about to have to move when her mom got a call that afternoon (Sunday, SUNDAY) from a place she applied to offering her a job that would meet their needs.
– Then tons of people (yes, I weighed them) were prayed over by our prayer team.

THWARTED DESERT TIME – On Monday I planned to head out to the desert for my monthly solitude retreat. I got about half way there in the mountains that are east of San Diego (around Golden Acorn for those of you that are local) and the storm that had moved in made me think I should have turned around an hour ago. I was blowing all over the road & could hardly see. I have never seen as many wrecks on the side of the road. I turned back pretty bummed out.

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Responses

  1. Ed,

    Steve and I were not at the service on Sunday due to his company Christmas Party in OC. My parents were there and my mom quoted you (elephant) this week to her friends ( and herself) struggling with various issues! That was a huge statement! It is amazing the way God speaks! Thank you! I will take that thought with me through all of my trials and good times!

  2. I really enjoyed the service, and the Selah was beautiful.

  3. I’ve been thinking about John’s comment that “sin management is an oxymoron – the biggest one there is” (as if we can control anything in life…). What a wonderful comment. I was so struck by it because in psychology, we talk about embracing the shadow because otherwise, the darkness comes back to bite us in the butt even more (and we’re not integrated, if we split off from it). But where psychology sometimes fails is how to transform the shadow. John hit the hammer on the nail. Through grace. I was so moved by his comment and that “the unresolved issues begin to melt away.” Praise be to God.

  4. PS – Question here. John also talked about coming to church with authenticity and in our brokenness, which JCC also stresses. I’m all for that. But how do we come in our strength? As I heal spiritually, I want to come in my health yet still have my needs met even when I’m not dripping with pain. How do I realize I can need prayer and contact even when dealing with the day to day? Does this make sense? I always run between two poles – broken wounded girl or wise woman who everyone else seeks counsel from. I don’t know who I am in the middle or how God meets me there. Just being me without an attachment to identity as wounded person or strong, competent person.

  5. Ed, You have NO idea how impacting last week’s message was to me. ZOE!!! Yes!!! it is, after 30 years of being in Love with the Lord that I can finally put a face to ! ZOE removes church labels and titles and erases the ick people feel when they ask someone “what church they go to?” and get a response that was slightly less than what they hoped for. ZOE begs us to ask the question “So, when did the Lord meet you? ” Or “How did you come to know Jesus?” AWESOME MESSAGE!!!!!AMEN and AMEN (so much more I could write. May the Lord bless you this week as you preach the word. And yes, I am” inviting my head off!”


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