The Christmas Carols Week 3 (Sermon Preview)

At the church where I grew up, we had a number of traditions to help us celebrate the Advent season.  One tradition was the “Hanging of the Greens” service, held early every December.  This Sunday evening service featured a number of Christmas musical presentations on the night when we decorated the church for the holiday. Our church was really blessed by a Music Director (Lauren and his wife Juanita) who did a fantastic job leading the choir and musicians for this special night.

On this night each year, Lauren would make the same joke . . . and it would make me laugh every time.  Lauren would make sure we understood the true meaning of the name of that service.  “Hanging of the Greens” referred to the placement of the holly, not an execution of the Music Leader – Lauren GREENE and his wife Juanita (the featured vocalist).  Worship wars are real inside churches (i.e. “sing more hymns” vs. “sing more current songs”) but at Christmas time it was “Peace on earth” and goodwill toward the greens AND the GREENES!

While no one at East Cross United Methodist Church ever REALLY made that mistake, it was funny to joke about.  In church circles, we do use a lot of jargon and terminology that can be misunderstood.  Take the word “Christ” for example.  What does it mean?  Is it Jesus last name?  Is it something else?  Does it matter?

Well, it does matter what that word means, and at CHRIST-mas time, it is especially important for us to know its definition.  This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be continuing our “The Christmas Carols” series by looking at the song “What Child is This?”  This song asks a question and provides an answer.


Q:  What child is this?


A:  This, this is CHRIST the King!

So, what is the “Christ” that this song sings about?  Sunday, December 16 we will see.  Hint – it is NOT Jesus’ last name, but a title full of rich significance.  Join us as we look at that together this Sunday in our 9:45 and 11:00 services.  Also, make sure you stay to the end of the services, as our worship team will be performing their special rendition of “Carol of the Bells” this weekend.  Make plans to be with us Sunday . . . and bring your friends!

“O Come All Ye Faithful” Sermon Audio

On Sunday, December 9, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on John 1:1-5, 9-14.  This message was part 2 in “The Christmas Carols” series and helped further our understanding of the song “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share with others.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

The Christmas Carols #2 12.09.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the worship service, use the Facebook live stream:

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“O Come All Ye Faithful” – Sermon Questions

This morning, December 9, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on John 1:1-5, 9-14 and the words of the Christmas hymn “O Come all Ye Faithful.”  This message was part 2 in “The Christmas Carols” series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read John 1:1-5, 9-14
  3. Jesus birth in Bethlehem was not His “beginning.”  Have you ever considered this before today?  What thoughts do you have about the Eternal nature of Jesus Christ?
  4. Have you ever imagined Jesus to be different in attitude from God the Father?  If so, in what way?  How does this passage address that idea?
  5. What are some of the reasons why you think people reject Jesus?
  6. Have you received Jesus in faith?  If so, what does this passage tell us is true about you?
  7. What would it look like for you to come in faith and adore Jesus this Christmas season?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

“The Christmas Carols” Part 2 – Sermon Preview

Later today, I will have the distinct privilege of leading the Memorial service of my friend Mike Hargis.  Mike lived his life well, as evidenced by the obvious influence he has had in his family, community, and church.  We also know that Mike is experiencing eternal life today in heaven.  However, Mike is not present in heaven today because he lived his life well . . . He is in heaven today because of the grace of a loving God who sent Jesus to die in His place to take the penalty for his sins, and to forever reconcile Mike to God.  Mike received that gift from Jesus by faith, and as a result, He is now alive forevermore — though his earthly life failed, his eternal life in Jesus continues.

As I prepare for this Memorial service, and reflect on the life of my friend, because of the truths stated above, I also cannot help but reflect upon the life of Jesus Christ . . . who came to us full of grace and truth in Bethlehem and beyond, giving us the chance to become sons and daughters of God.  John 1 states, “For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believed in His name.”  This verse is an invitation to “Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!  Come and adore Him!”  If we embrace by faith what Jesus has done for us (like Mike did) we can approach death triumphantly and adore Jesus, not just for the season but for all eternity.

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be continuing our “The Christmas Carols” series by looking at the song “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  We will specifically be looking at John 1:1-14 as an anchor for the truth that this song proclaims.  We also will welcome all the kids into a portion of the worship services to sing some carols to us this weekend.  Should be a great Sunday!  Join us in our 9:45 or 11:00 service . . . and bring friends!

 

“Joy to the World” Sermon Audio

On Sunday, December 2, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Psalm 98.  This message was part one in “The Christmas Carols” series and focused on the meaning of the song “Joy to the World.”  Below is the sermon audio from the message to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click on the link below to download audio:

The Christmas Carols #1 12.02.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

“Joy to the World” Sermon Questions

On Sunday, December 2, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Psalm 98 and the song “Joy to the World”.  This message was part 1 in “The Christmas Carols” series.  Below are a set of questions related to this message for further reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Psalm 98
  3. In your opinion, when is it too early to begin to celebrate Christmas?
  4. “Joy to the World” was written by Isaac Watts and is based on Psalm 98.  This Psalm (and Watts song) reflect on the past, present, and future of God’s people.  Take a moment to list out some of the things people can learn about God regardless of where they live in the world.
  5. Why do you think we are commanded to sing to the Lord concerning His salvation with our voices and with instruments, etc.  In other words, what do these elements ADD to our experience of relating to God?
  6. What are some ways you can “fill your home with the songs of the Lord” this Christmas?
  7. What are some evidences you see in the world today of the “curse” mentioned in Genesis 3 and “Joy to the World’s” third verse?
  8. What are you looking forward to most about the return of Jesus to the earth one day?
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Previewing “The Christmas Carols” . . .

I love Christmas time.  Yes, the schedule is busy.  Yes, the weather is unpredictable.  Yes, we spend more money than normal.  BUT . . . I love the confluence of our spiritual lives and our everyday lives.  Music about Jesus is playing at the mall.  It is normal and natural to invite friends to church with you for a special holiday service.  Worshipping with your local church is normal on the weekends . . . and families even build worship into their times of celebration.  People are more generous with their time and money.  For these reasons (and many more), “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

I think it is especially appropriate this time of year for the Sacred and the secular to blend . . .  after all, at Christmas time we remember that the SON OF GOD, the Creator of all things, the all powerful, all knowing One . . . He humbled Himself and was born as a BABY and laid in a MANGER!  If this is not a mashup of all facets of life, I don’t know what is.  And He did it to identify with us, to show us the way, and to BE the Way so that we might be reconciled to God.

In the midst of this season, we can get moving so fast that we never stop to reflect on the words of the songs that surround us.  We may hear “Joy to the World” sung 1,000 times this month . . . but what does that song mean?  What does it point to?

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will begin our new sermon series, “The Christmas Carols” by looking at “Joy to the World” together.  We will find this song’s roots in Psalm 98, Genesis 3, and Revelation 21-22 . . . and in the midst of this, we will come to know the HOPE of Christmas past, present, and future.

Make plans to join us Sunday (and bring friends!) at Wildwood in our 9:45 and 11:00 worship service.

 

P.S.  All December long, I will be posting a devotional each day reflecting on the meaning of a different Christmas Carol.  You can find these posts daily beginning Saturday, December 1, 2018 . . . or download the entire devotional now by clicking here.

Baptism Sunday November 2018 Sermon Audio

On Sunday, November 18, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon before 17 people were baptized.  This message was based on Acts 8:26-40.  Below you will find the sermon audio to watch or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download the audio:

Baptism Sunday

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To view the testimonies of those baptized, click here.

 

To watch the 9:45 Service Livestream on Facebook live, click here.

 

To watch the 11:00 Service Livestream on Facebook Live, click here.

Reveal (part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, November 4, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 16:21-28. This message was part 2 in the “Reveal” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from the sermon to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download the file:

Reveal #2 11.04.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the worship service, view the Facebook Livestream:

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Reveal (part 2) Sermon Questions

On November 4, 2018 I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church based on Matthew 16:21-28, 17:22-23, 20:17-19.  This message was part 2 in the “Reveal” sermon series.  Below are a series of  questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 16:21-28, 17:22-23, 20:17-19
  3. What are some common misconceptions people have about God?  (In other words, are there things that many ASSUME are true about God, but may not be true?)
  4. In all the Scripture passages read above, Jesus prophecied about His death long before it happened.  This means that Jesus KNEW what was awaiting Him in Jerusalem and yet He proceeded to walk straight there!  What does this tell you about Jesus?
  5. What are some ways that you are tempted to discard REVELATION from God in Scripture in favor of your personal REASON or intuition? 
  6. Discipleship is about following Jesus.  As we follow Him, Jesus calls us to deny ourselves by making Jesus the center of our lives (not ourselves at the center of our lives.)  Have you made this decision?  Are you continuing to make this decision in all areas of your life today?  If not, where do you need to practice “self-denial” today?
  7. As we follow Jesus, we also must take up a cross.  Taking up a cross is not a generic sense of hardship, but specific opposition and ridicule that we will experience because of our connection to Jesus.  Have you experienced this kind of opposition before?  If so, what was it?
  8. Jesus promises us that following Him is worth it, as He will reward us in the end.  In what ways is it “worth it” to follow Jesus . . . even if it means denying yourself today and experiencing ridicule and persecution?
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.