Clothes For the New Year

I Samuel 2:18-20, 26, Colossians 3:12-17 and Luke 2:41-52

The young Samuel is described as wearing a linen ephod. Paul talk about “clothing ourselves in love.” The Luke passage says little about what Jesus as an adolescent wore! But he was “about his Fathers business!”

As we approach yet another new calendar year many will have some gift items from Christmas to wear about at work, school, and community. Since it may get colder some are bringing out anything to wear other than a “linen ephod.”

Back to Paul and Jesus. I suspect they wore whatever was common in the day. Clothes of the era would have been primarily functional for ease of movement, warmth, or cooling. However, if you were a person of royalty or of some wealth you might have some expensive varieties of cloth and color! Today one can have much variety and not at great cost! Clothes express who we are quite often, e.g., uniforms, suits, leisure, t-shirts with messages.

Paul knew this about our human nature and knew that the expression of “being clothed” with certain attitudes would reach the hearers of this message about Christian living.
How we “clothe” ourselves always gives some message to others whether implied or explicit.

“Get out your Sunday best” is perhaps attire for a previous generation but only as to physical clothing. Our “Sunday best” of love is to be showing all the days of the week!

Blessings in the New Year 2019!

Pastor Barry

Christmas at Kedron

Psalm 46 and Luke 2:19.

Advent draws to a close this Sunday and we are at the doorstep of Christmas! For many, it has been a full, busy, energetic time of the year. Expectations run high at every age and festive feelings abound!

Both Kedron and Lock’s Memorial have wonderful worship in store this Sunday with many voices to be heard in Word and song. And then on to Christmas Eve and more Word and song and Candle Lighting as the last night before Christmas Day concludes.

At some point read Psalm 46 and Luke 2:19 to help get a balance between excited rejoicing and a calm peace in your life. In the midst of both fighting enemies of the day and the turmoil of the age the Psalmist says, “Be still…..” For us today we might read “focus and pay attention.” It helps to pause and quietly reflect on the “who, what and where” of Christmas! And in Luke 2:19 Mary pauses and remembers what all the angels and shepherds appearing around her is all about! She probably just sat in awe of everything that was happening.

Let’s all hope to find those moments of peace, calm, and thoughtfulness over the next few days. Pray and wait….. for the moments to appear! Sit and ponder. Be still and know……

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Barry

Christ the Lord

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”—Luke 2:10–11

The angel began that wonderful announcement to the shepherds with, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. . . .” Maybe you are suffering today. You might find yourself wondering, Where is the joy? But what is the joy about? Is it about an opportunity to go shopping? Is the message of Christmas “Let it snow?” No, it is, “Let us worship.”

The angels’ visit to the shepherds became the first Christmas celebration. It’s as though Heaven and earth were celebrating it together, as though a portal to glory had been opened up. These shepherds saw the supernatural world, the heavenly world. On that first Christmas, there was a big celebration in Heaven and on earth over the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have a Savior: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). That is the most important thing. We have a Savior who came to save us from the power and penalty of sin. Whatever you are going through in life, remember this: you have a Savior. He has put your sins as far away from you as the east is from the west.

Christ means “anointed one.” Another word for that is Messiah. Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to send His Son as the Messiah. This is a simple reminder that God keeps His promises. God said that He would send a Messiah, and the Messiah came.

Lord means that we have a sovereign God who is in control of our lives.

So set aside the things you have become preoccupied with and remember that you have a Savior. You have a Lord. You have a Christ. And you have His promises.


Chaplin Rob

Just Another Night in Bethlehem

Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done marvelous things! —Joel 2:21

On the first Christmas Eve, there were no brightly colored lights on anyone’s homes. There were no stockings that had been hung with care or any visions of sugarplums dancing in children’s heads. It was just another night in Bethlehem. The census had gone out—that command by Caesar that everyone was to be taxed. But history was about to change in Bethlehem.

All of Israel was living in a very frightening time historically. They lived under the tyrant King Herod who would execute people at will. In addition, the Jews were living in occupied territory. The Romans had taken control of their country. They were no longer free to do what they wanted and live as they wanted. They wondered if Rome would ever leave. Would the violent rule ever cease? Would their world ever change?

Then suddenly angels appeared to the shepherds and told them not to be afraid; the Messiah had been born.

There is a lot to be afraid of in our unstable, volatile world today. It seems that at every turn, we hear about another horrific tragedy happening in our world. It can cause us to be terrified.

Then there are the personal fears: What if I lose my health? What if I lose a member of my family? What if this happens? What if that happens? A lot of things run through our minds.

Here is the message of the first Christmas—and the message for us this Christmas: Don’t be afraid. . . . I bring you good tidings of great joy.

Ray Stedman wrote, “The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy.”

Does that describe you? Fear is what Christmas came to remove—and now we can have joy in its place.


Chaplin Rob

A Divine Birth Announcement

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. . . . Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” —Luke 2:8, 10

If you are a parent, then you can remember the first people you called after you became one. You gave them the weight and length of the baby and the actual time when he or she was born. You shared the news with those who were closest to you.

When God announced the birth of His Son, whom did He tell first? It seems likely that He would have started with Caesar Augustus. He could have sent the angel Gabriel to appear in Caesar’s court and announce, “Check this out, buddy. You are not God! The Savior of the world has arrived!”

Or He might have had Gabriel appear to the religious leaders and say, “Wake up! The Messiah has been born! The One you talk about, the One you pray for—He is here!”

But that didn’t happen. Instead, God first announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds. We tend to romanticize the shepherds along with everyone else in the Christmas story, but we don’t understand who they were. In this culture, shepherds lived at the bottom of the social ladder.

Shepherds were so despised that their testimonies were not even allowed in a court of law. Shepherds did the work that no one else wanted to do. They worked hard, but they were perceived as unclean because they could not observe the ceremonial hand washings. They were the outcasts, the nobodies.

The only people less-regarded than shepherds were those who were suffering from leprosy. Yet God decided to announce His news to some shepherds in the fields as they kept watch over their flocks at night. This was the modus operandi of Jesus, from birth to death. He always appealed to the outcast, to the common, to the ordinary. And that should give hope to ordinary people like us.


Chaplin Rob

Joseph, the Unsung Hero

Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. —Matthew 1:19

Joseph is the unsung hero of the Christmas story. For the most part, there are no Christmas songs about Joseph. Yet he really is a hero. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a “good man” (Matthew 1:19). Deeply in love with Mary, he was no doubt jolted by the news that she was pregnant.

Joseph and Mary were engaged, which, in their culture, was like being married. Once a couple entered into this engagement, or espousal, period, it was like being married, although they lived in separate houses. It was during this time that Mary became pregnant.

Yet Joseph loved Mary, and the Bible tells us that he “did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly” (Matthew 1:19). In other words, Joseph was thinking, I’m going to say that I can’t marry her now, but I’m certainly not going to publicly shame Mary, either.

While he was pondering this, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (verses 20–21).

That was all Joseph needed to hear. He could have walked away, even after he knew the truth. But he stood by Mary. And just as surely as God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, he chose Joseph to be a father figure on earth for Jesus.

When God uses a person, there is a sacrifice to make. It won’t be an easy path, but it will be a fruitful one—and you will look back later in life and be glad that you took it.


Chaplin Rob

Advent Anxieties?!

Zephaniah 3:14-20, Philippians 4:4-7 and Luke 3:7-18

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Kedron, December 16, the Third Sunday of Advent, the sermon title is Advent Anxieties?! The scriptures are Zephaniah 3:14-20, Philippians 4:4-7 and Luke 3:7-18.

Advent should make one think of “A” words like “anticipation,” “awe,” “adventure,” “awareness,” but hardly “anxiety.” Well, the texts for Sunday CAN create feelings of anxiety if we look and listen closely. Zephaniah (I felt anxious because I first confused Zephaniah with Zechariah!) is complete with reasons to be anxious! Mercifully the verses are all about final “release of anxiety” with the coming favor of the Lord!

John the Baptizer’s preaching certainly can cause anxiety! And perhaps anxiety for him when Herod lands him in jail(!). Paul, also writing from jail, says “be anxious for nothing” Phil 4:6 which seems almost an impossibility….in any age, with any person facing life’s challenges.

But, rest assured anxiety will NOT be the final word for persons of faith during Advent. Some of us will face it but with the Lord’s help it will not have power over us. We have reason to look forward to better things in Advent! Christmas is coming! Jesus is here and now!

Anticipate Blessings…and breathe a sigh of relief: “What? Me worry?”

Pastor Barry

Cosmic Prophecy, Refiner’s Fire

Malachi 3:1-6, Philippians 1:3-11 and Luke 3:1-6

Preparing for these three texts was interrupted a bit by my watching the funeral of President George H.W.Bush at the Washington Cathedral. I was also struck by how all three texts have a context of government and leadership! John the Baptist is preaching during the reign of Caesar Tiberius in Rome and Pilate and Herod in Palestine. Paul writes while being held under house arrest by Roman authorities. Malachi announces God’s judgement on those who oppress the people whether government or the religious authorities are doing the oppressing!

All of this, of course, is the buildup to the coming Righteous One, Jesus of Nazareth. There really is a sense of a huge impact impending on both individuals and upon governments. And there is “cosmic” significance and transformation coming as in a “Refiner’s Fire.”

In the public televised Christian funeral of a former US President we hear echoes of God still at work in lives of individuals, communities, and nations. This gives us both anticipatory “concern and unease” in the call to change thru love and justice but also anticipatory joy knowing that God in Jesus Christ is bringing the True and Good to all people!

We are to hear the call of faith and then the following response of service to a greater good than just our own well-being!

Cosmic joy is coming!

See you in worship and in service!

Pastor Barry

Humility | Doorways, Not Doormats

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. – 1 Peter 5:6

Humility. What is it anyway? If I’m humble, do I have to roll over and play second fiddle to everyone, all the time? Too often humility has been misunderstood as a negative character trait. I would like to help you get a clear biblical perspective on what humility is and what it is not. Humility isn’t thinking less of your-self; it’s thinking more of God and of others. In other words, humility isn’t about putting our-selves down, but rather, about glorifying God and affirming others.

Consider Jesus. He left His place of highest honor in heaven in or¬der to become a man, flesh and blood, here on earth. However, He didn’t tear himself down or deny that He was a person of value and importance. What He did do is lift others up through His humility and show them how valuable they were to God.

So, you see, humility isn’t about being a doormat; it’s about being a doorway–a doorway through which others enter into the presence and power of God. By focusing on building others up and help¬ing others connect with God, we show them the love of God, who desires the best for them.

Think about how you can strive to put others’ interests ahead of your own. I challenge you to show others in your home, your offices, or even in the checkout line at the market, how you and God value them. A good way to begin is by asking yourself what Jesus would do if he were in your place.

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself. – Abraham Lincoln

May we all find ways to stay humble today!


Chaplin Rob