Belonging to Love, Joy, Peace & Hope

Belonging to Love, Joy, Peace & Hope

Yesterday during worship, I asked our church family to consider how Christmas is about belonging. Immanuel – God With Us – is a message of belonging. As I said in a blog article last week, Immanuel is a phrase that connects God and us through the little word with (im in Hebrew). To summarize, the Hebrew word im can mean:

  1. Being by or beside someone (approaching)
  2. Dwelling in a place or with someone (inhabiting), or
  3. Being together with someone (belonging).

This third meaning is all about belonging. And when we look at Immanuel in this third way we see that belonging is what connects God and us. During the message on Sunday, I shared how belonging was not about possession but instead belonging is about family. We belong to God and God belongs to us because we are family. Through Jesus’ birth, God has come to be with us as family.

During the 4 Sundays of Advent, churches most often reflect on four themes: Love, Joy, Peace, and Hope. These four words are powerful themes that can be understood in many ways:

  • as ethics that represent the life and teaching of Jesus
  • as themes that help explain what Christ’s birth is all about
  • as goals undertaken by God through the birth of Christ
  • and there are certainly others.

Today, I encourage you to consider the theme of belonging in relation to the four words – love, joy, peace and hope. These words describe God’s family, the family to which we belong. And Jesus’ birth is an invitation for you to belong to this family of love, joy, peace and hope. It’s wonderful to reflect on these four words each season of Advent. But perhaps this year, you will consider how Immanuel – God With Us – means that you belong to a God who is love, joy, peace and hope. Or to say it another way:

You belong to Love. You belong to Joy. You belong to Peace. You belong to Hope.

Yes, you really do! Take me seriously here and spend a few moments soaking that truth in:

You belong to Love. You belong to Joy. You belong to Peace. You belong to Hope.

These are not just words or themes or ethical goals. They are divine realities to which we belong because of Christ’s birth, because of Immanuel.

So, no matter where you are right now, no matter how energized or tired you are, no matter how busy or relaxed you are, no matter how much you are struggling or how you may feel at peace, hear and know and breathe in the truth of Christmas: You belong to Love. You belong to Joy. You belong to Peace. You belong to Hope.


If You Missed Sunday’s Message…

Read or Listen to God With Us: Belong – John 1:9-14


God’s Word for This Week

John 1:6-8 – The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. (CEB v.9)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 – Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. (CEB, v.19-21)

Psalm 126 – Lord, change our circumstances for the better, like dry streams in the desert waste! Let those who plant with tears reap the harvest with joyful shouts.

Isaiah 9:1-7 – The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. (CEB, v.2)


This Week at Hood

Monday, December 11, 11:00 am – Circle Brunch at the home of Mary Lee Tart
Wednesday, December 13, 3:30 pm – Prayer & Inspiration
Wednesday, December 13, 6:00 pm – Choir Practice – (Last practice before the Cantata!)
Thursday, December 14, 1:00, 3:00 pm – Pastor Jason at the Cellar for Drop-In Conversation & Coffee (108 N. Wilson Ave.)
December 17, 11:00 am – Choir’s Musical presentation: God With Us;  followed by church-wide Christmas lunch and visit from Saint Nicholas!

Coming Soon

December 24, 11:00 am – Worship
December 24, 5:00 pm – Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion

*If you have not already picked up a copy of the Advent Study Guide for your family, they are available at the church, just outside the sanctuary.

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