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Joy of Every Longing Heart

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
  O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

-Psalm 130

The theme of our Advent series this year was from the the classic hymn, "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus". The song refers to Jesus as the "Joy of Every Longing Heart". 

I love that line because it so beautifully encapsulates the mysterious blend of joy and longing, hope and anxiety, darkness and light, waiting and celebrating that define the existence of Christians as we await the return of the Lord.

The Christmas season is full of reminders why we ought to be filled with joy. God came as a Baby to begin a rescue mission. The Father orchestrated even the stars in the sky and the motives and choices of earthly kings to announce the birth of the Savior. Symbols like the Christmas Tree, the candy cane, candlelight, nativities....whether our culture fully realizes it or not....all point to this wonderful event over 2000 years ago.

But at the same time, Christmas brings back to mind many of the points of darkness and pain in our broken world. It's a time when we remember those that sickness and death and sin have taken from us. We become acutely aware of those in need and the sadness and brokenness prevalent in so many lonely and suffering hearts.

This Sunday, we'll close our Advent series and kick off our week of Christmas celebrations, by again acknowledging and not rushing past the hard truths of a broken and waiting world, and then exhorting our own hearts and one another to place our cares on the shoulders of our Savior, and celebrate his perfect rescue mission and promised return to make all things new again! He, and He alone, is the source of joy for every longing heart.

Here are the Scriptures and Songs that will make up our Christmas Service this Sunday at 9am and 11am.

Psalm 130
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
O Come O Come Emmanuel
Prepare Him Room
Luke 1:68,78-79
Joy to the World
When Love Came Down to Earth
Sermon from Luke 1:26-38
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Sing  We The Song of Emmanuel
O Come All Ye Faithful
 
We are looking forward to worshipping the Lord with you in-person and online!
Posted by Tim Payne with

Rejoicing in the Dark

Isaiah 61:10-11 says:

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to sprout up before all the nations.

As we have been studying Advent as a church this month, it's been striking to me just how much of Scripture speaks to the darkness in our broken world. So many Psalms, so many sections of the Old Testament prophets, so much of the Gospels...all openly and clearly express frustration and longing and worry and fear that results from experiencing the brokenness of the world around us.

To be human is to experience anguish and darkness. To be a Christian is to have the privilege of holding on to Hope and Joy in the midst of the darkness. Christ's unrelenting hold on us allows us to resist the pull of despair, and rejoice in the eternal hope that we have in Christ. 

This doesn't mean we don't acknowledge, fight against, pray for relief from, and long for the ceasing of the darkness. It simply means that our eyes can be, by Grace Alone, fixed on a hope beyond the four walls of our earthly existence. We rejoice because we have a Savior. We rejoice because we have a future. We rejoice because we don't belong here in the mess, but we were made for another world where hope overcomes despair, where fruit overcomes decay, where life and love win.

That's what we're celebrating this Sunday in our singing. 

Here are the Scriptures and Songs for our services this week:

- Call to Worship from Isaiah 61:10-11
-Angels from the Realms of Glory
-Sing We the Song of Emmanuel
-Living Hope
-Sermon from John 1
-Communion
-O Come to the Altar
 
Here's  a Spotify Playlist of those songs, so you can learn them and sing them as you prepare your heart to sing with us on Sunday!
Posted by Tim Payne with

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