Advent – Candle of Love

Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY. Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.

Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us. The bible says that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Jesus shows us God’s perfect love. As God is love, let us also be love. Love is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at this candle we celebrate the love we find in Jesus Christ.

From the Gospel of John we hear: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love never ends.
We light the candle of love to remind us that Jesus brings us God’s love and shows us how to love others.

Advent – Candle of Peace

Last Sunday, we lit the first candle in our Advent wreath, the candle of hope. Let us light it again, remembering that the light of hope shines for us in the darkness.

Peace. It is a word we hear a lot right now. Peace is one of God’s gifts to us. John the Baptist was a prophet calling the people of Israel to repent, to find peace with God. John also declared that it is in our actions of love and justice that God’s peace is shown.

May we by our actions help to prepare the way for the coming of Peace that Isaiah talked about: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

We light the candle of peace to remind us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that through him peace is found.

Advent – Candle of Joy

We have lit the first two candles, one for hope and one for peace. Today we light the third candle, the candle of joy. As the coming of Jesus, our Savior, draws nearer, our joy builds with our anticipation of his birth and His future return. 

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the angels brought good news of a great joy, which shall be to all people.The good news of Jesus’ birth is still tidings of great joy for us today.

The Christmas season is one of Joy. But in the midst of gifts, lights, and celebration we can easily forget the source of our Joy, the Joy that Isaiah prophesied when he said:

But be glad and rejoice for ever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.

And because God revealed His salvation through Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, we look forward with joy to that day when our faith shall be sight, that time when we will gaze upon His face, the One who saved us by His grace.

We light this candle to remind us of the Joy we have in our Savior.

Advent – Candle of Hope

Advent marks the start of the Christmas season, a season that celebrates the birth of our Savior. The word advent is derived from the Latin word meaning “the coming.” It is in the coming of the child Christ and the returning of our risen King that gives us hope for a brighter tomorrow. The Prophet Isaiah reminds us of this when he writes:

The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness, But God rises on you, and His sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness.

We live in a dark time, a tough economic situation where people are losing hope and losing faith. But it is God’s radiant light that shines in these dark places and gives us hope where there once was no hope.

We light this candle as a reminder of the hope we have in the coming King.

Unconventional Dinner Theater

This November the Creative Arts Department at Grace Church is putting on a dinner theater. But here is the catch – the dinner is not for you. You will be fed but it will be more of a coffee house setting in order to put all our efforts into providing dinner for 200 families in out community. So here is how it is going to work. When you purchase a ticket for $5 you will be given a reusable shopping bag and a shopping list of non-perishable items. The night of the performance you bring your ticket and your bag of groceries to gain admission to the event. The whole of the $5 will go to providing the meat of the dinner for these families. There will also be a wonderful visual of hundreds of reusable shopping bags filled with food to feed needy families. We have had generous donations from Publix, Wal-Mart, JJ’s Barbecue and more to come to help make this evening and goal possible. Let’s face it there are needy and hungry people that need to be shown the love of God. I mean a lot of us are blessed and have more than we really need. It seems that during this time of family and thanksgiving we should use our resources to share with those in need (personally I believe it needs to be more than just at a certain time of year or when the end of the taxable season is ending and we need those write-offs – we are called to feed the hungry and give drink to those who thirst – lets pull together and help). Of Course there are many other ways to help if you can’t make the either of the performances – donate money, food from the shopping list, desserts for the events, and many other ways; have your small group also gather a bag or two and donate it or bake desserts to share. We had no idea when we first planned this event that it would end up looking anything like this but we are so excited to see how God can move through a little event like a dinner theater. The biggest thing you can do is to pray for the evening and everything leading up to it – we still are unsure of how some details will work out but God does.

Tickets go on sale November 1 – 15 and are $5 in advance, $15 at the door
Performances are Friday November 20 @ 7:00PM and Saturday November 21 @ 7:00PM

Celebration Sunday

What an amazing service we had.  Close to 800 people showed up to celebrate the culmination of our 40 Days of Community Campaign.  I know personally my small group grew together through our outreach project.  We were able to built a new staircase for a family that had to jump off an onto their porch each day.

The day was full of great music, great fellowship, a great sermon, and a phenomenal finish – cardboard testimonies.  I have to admit that it wasn’t an original idea.  We found a video on YouTube displaying this very idea from another church.  But we made it our own.  Every story you saw was true.  Every moment shared was personal to that person holding the cardboard.  I did not see too many dry eyes in the congregation.  What was it that was represented there that made this day so powerful.  It wasn’t the song choices behind it.  It wasn’t the emotion displayed by those holding the cardboard, probably the person sitting next to you, and the pastoral staff.  It was God moving through our people.  It was seeing how people like you and me are able to claim victory through Christ.  That’s what made it connect.  There was nothing separating those pieces of cardboard from our own stories of pain and suffering.  There was nothing separating those holding the cardboard from each of us flipping them over to reveal how God has moved in our lives and rescued us.  I can’t wait to finish up the video of the day and share it with anyone who is willing to watch, anyone who is looking for how God is still working today.
The creative team at GraceChurch is working on how we can continue to present you with engaging and entertaining  events and services that share hope.