The Advent of Generation Next
In a cabinet at home is an old box of Kodachrome 8 mm movies. I let them sit for a long time on my desk. They’re silent films of family from long before I was in the world. I had them converted to DVD last year as a Christmas present for some of my relatives. I wanted them duplicated partly out of preservation. They were wearing out, and I didn’t want to lose them. Another motivation was identification. I wanted to know who some of the unknown people were. As you can imagine, there are some people who are no longer considered family, and others who I’m related to who died and are now with the Lord. But all of them remind me of what it means to have a home.
The Christian season of Advent dusts off the filmstrip of faith. We replay the events, characters and people that make it possible for us to be church. In the Gospel of Matthew, it marks the creation of a whole new generation of believers who redefine the household of God. The celebrations recount the birth of Christ that began long ago in the family of Abraham with scoundrels like Manasseh, Moabites like Ruth, and people like you and me God intervened through the Holy Spirit so that Mary could give birth to Jesus. God spoke to Joseph in a dream to make sure he would wake up and take care of Mary even though the baby wasn’t Joseph’s. A group of magi discover a rising star and ride into Jerusalem looking for a king. They find instead that he doesn’t reside in a palace but in a house in a backwater town unnoticed by the powerful and influential. All of this is possible because now, “God is with us,” through the same One who said, “Lo, I am with you always even until the end of the age.”
I want to invite you to participate as we replay the story again. This season of Advent is our first one together. Through Hanging of the Green, the Christmas Musical “The Other Wise Man,” Christmas Eve Services, and Sunday morning worship, you have a unique opportunity to introduce people from your household to Emmanuel again. They’re the people you have invested in all year through conversations about faith. Now invite them to worship the Christ child with you with your church family.
To help you along the way, I’ll be preaching through Matthew 1-3, focusing on the lives of the people who became the generation of obedient people who made it possible for the story of Christ to be told. They were the first faith family, united not biologically but spiritually through their obedience to follow God’s leadership. We are GeneratioNext, the newest generation of followers to share and live out the Gospel in our community. The wonderful new beginning offered through the birth of Christ and the decisions of those first followers can be yours again this year.
To commemorate the season, we’re offering a limited edition ornament for $10 available for you to purchase at the welcome desk. These ornaments will be available at no charge to our guests this month. When you bring a guest with you, please ask them to fill out a connect form and bring them by the café in the welcome center following the services. I along with our pastoral staff will be there to greet them. We’ll have hot chocolate, cider, coffee, and Christmas goodies available, as well as the ornament.
Each generation of followers accepts the same responsibilities of Mary, Joseph, and the magi. We are the obedient ones who say yes to Christ’s direction in our lives. Guided by the Holy Spirit and confirmed through faithful reading and interpretation of scripture, we witness to the world that God is with us. Through the birth of this Child, this generation accepts the challenge of faith. Welcome home!