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Present in Bethlehem

This Sunday begins Advent. That word, advent word comes from the Latin verb “to come.” It’s church shorthand for Adventus Domini…the coming of the Lord. As a kid, I thought it was the name of a Christmas countdown calendar that had chocolate hidden in little secret doors.

But, it IS a type of countdown. In the church, we use advent to describe the Christmas season: the time of God drawing near at the nativity in Bethlehem.

But in our much too busy schedules, our time shopping (online and in malls), and our ever-increasing debt, it is easy to miss Him as he draws near. So, here’s my proposal. This year, instead of being bystanders to the nativity, what if we were present in the story?

My new sermon series, Present in Bethlehem, is an invitation for all of us to move from observer to participant this Christmas. Let’s let this beautiful Christmas story change us like it changed the characters in this story.

This week, we’ll start where the story starts, with Mary and Joseph.

Christmas changed Mary and the lesson she teaches us is to accept. It began with that first yes, that first Christmas…She accepted God’s plan. But really her life was one yes at a time. In fact, I think accepting God’s plan in our lives is like that – layered yeses. But it starts with the first yes – being present with God instead of a bystander.

That leads me to Joseph. Christmas changed Joseph, too. Like Mary teaches us to accept, Joseph teaches us to yield. Joseph’s plan and God’s plan were different. But Joseph yielded to God’s plan. He took Mary in…he loved and cared for her. He protected her. He adopted her son, Jesus, and reared him to be a man of God.

God has a plan for you and He is inviting you to join him in it. God wants to change the world…and He’s inviting you to join him. Mary shows us the power of acceptance. What is it that God is asking you to do? Like Mary, will you say yes?

Or maybe, like Joseph, you’re frustrated with the twists and turns life has brought – things haven’t quite turned out like you’ve planned. Like Joseph, are you willing to yield to God’s plan? Will you trust Him with your future?

Let’s ponder these big questions together Sunday!

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