Click to view this email in a browser

Valley Church News

November 26, 2013

"And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of righteousness - to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
~ Luke 1.17

Advent 2013: Prepare the Way of the Lord

     ". . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." As the angel Gabriel tells fear-ridden Zechariah, it will be the business of John the Baptist - the crazy bug eating prophet - to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. It is also the nature and purpose of Luke chapter one, and the nature and purpose of a church observing the season of Advent "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
     This Sunday marks the first Sunday in the season of Advent. It is a season of preparation, a season of waiting, a season of longing, a season that takes seriously the need for the king who puts this world right. This year, we will be prepared for the Lord by dwelling in God's word in the first chapter of Luke. This Sunday we will hear from Luke 1.5-25. I invite you to read the passage prior to our service of worship this Sunday.

     For more thoughts on Advent, please see the bottom of the email.

AC logo

Advent Conspiracy:

     Two Sundays ago, I introduced the idea of an Advent and Christmas conspiracy. I invited you to join thousands of other Christians in North America who are conspiring against the story and practices of Christmas that are driven by Wall Street and Madison Avenue and who are embracing practices that are driven by the story of Christmas as it fits into the larger story of God's work in this world. If you missed the introduction video to The Advent Conspiracy you can view it here. Their website is here.
     The general premise of The Advent Conspiracy is that this Advent and Christmas season we should:
  1. Worship Fully
  2. Spend Less
  3. Give More
  4. Love All
     We will be doing our best to worship fully and faithfully as a congregation through Advent, preparing in heart and soul for the coming of Jesus.
     The Advent Conspiracy also invites us spend less on gifts that we and our loved ones don't really need. Rather than giving those pricey gifts, we are asked to consider giving gifts of time to family members, or gifts that we can make ourselves or with one another. Then we are invited to commit those savings from our normal Christmas budget to an organization that is doing God's kingdom work to help those who are truly in need and thereby give more. The idea is, that in doing this, we will love all that much better.
     Some ideas for giving are:
  1. The World Renew Gift Catalog for those in need globally
  2. CHOW
  3. Project Concern
  4. A charity of your choice
     On the final Sunday of Advent (December 22) we will include a piece of paper with the bulletin that will ask you (anonymously) how much you gave and to which organization. We'll tally the total and let the congregation know the results of our conspiracy on the first Sunday of Christmas.

More On Advent:

The following paragraphs are from the introduction to the devotional book Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (which is highlighted to the right):

     Though Advent (literally "arrival") has been observed for centuries as a time to contemplate Christ's birth, most people today acknowledge it only with a blank look. For the vast majority of us, December flies by in a flurry of activities, and what is called "the holiday season" turns out to be the most stressful time of the year.
     It is also a time of contrasting emotions. We are eager, yet frazzled; sentimental, yet indifferent. One minute we glow at the thought of getting together with our family and friends; the next we feel utterly lonely. Our hope is mingled with dread, our anticipation with despair. We sense the deeper meanings of the season but grasp at them in vain; and in the end, all the bustle leaves us frustrated and drained.
     Even we who do not experience such tensions - who genuinely love Christmas - often miss its point. Content with candles and carols and good food, we bask in the warmth of familiar traditions, in reciprocated acts of kindness, and in feelings of general goodwill. How many of us remember the harsh realities of Christ's first coming: the dank stable, the cold night, the closed door of the inn? How many of us share the longing of the ancient prophets, who awaited the Messiah with such aching intensity that they foresaw his arrival thousands of years before he was born?
     Mother Teresa once noted that the first person to welcome Christ was John the Baptist, who leaped for joy on recognizing him, though both of them were still within their mothers' wombs. We, in stark contrast, are often so dulled by superficial distractions that we are incapable of hearing any voice within, let alone listening to it. Consequently, the feeling we know as Christmas cheer lacks any real connection to the vital spirit that radiated from the manger. . .
     We miss the essence of Christmas unless we become, in the words of Eberhard Arnold, "mindful of how Christ's birth took place." Once we do, we will sense immediately that Advent marks something momentous: God's coming into our midst. That coming is not just something that happened in the past. It is a recurring possibility here and now. And thus Advent is not merely a commemorative event or an anniversary, but a yearly opportunity for us to consider the future, second Advent - the promised coming of God's kingdom on earth.
     Such an understanding of Christmas is possible only insofar as we let go of the false props of convention and seek to unlock its central paradox. That paradox, to paraphrase the modern martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is the fact that God's coming is not only a matter of glad tidings but, first of all, "frightening news for everyone who has a conscience."
     The love that descended to Bethlehem is not the easy sympathy of an avuncular [like a kindly uncle] God, but a burning fire whose light chases away every shadow, floods every corner, and turns midnight into noon. This love reveals sin and overcomes it. It conquers darkness with such forcefulness and intensity that it scatters the proud, humbles the mighty, feeds the hungry, and sends the rich away empty-handed (Luke 1:51-53).
     Because a transformation of this scale can never be achieved by human means, but only by divine intervention, Advent (to quote Bonhoeffer again) might be compared to a prison cell "in which one waits and hopes and does various unessential things . . . but is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside." It is a fitting metaphor. But dependency does not release us from responsibility. If the essence of Advent is expectancy, it is also readiness for action: watchfulness for every opening, and willingness to risk everything for freedom and a new beginning.
     That is why the imagery of nativity scenes is not sufficient to explain the Christian message. Yes, God came into the feeding trough of an animal. But it was not only as a baby that he lay there. This child was the same man who was crucified on Golgotha, and who rose again. Within the manger lies the cross - and the hope of redemption and resurrection.
     To recognize this requires reverence and humility. It requires faith. We might ask, "What grounds are there for such hope?" Or we might seek to become like children, and believe. Mary did. So did the shepherds and the wise men of the East. . . So can each of us, wherever we are.

Sunday Service Times:
Children's Sunday School:
9:30 a.m.
Coffee available for adults:
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Worship Service:
10:30 a.m.

That we might better pray for one another:

    We continue to pray for God's blessing and healing for Jenny DeYoung as she continues her chemo treatments, and for Joel and the kids as they walk this journey with her.
     We pray for God's continued presence with and comfort for Harriet and all of Lucky Dimidio's family and friends.
     We pray for healing for Cindy Krempel, and for wisdom for the doctors as they diagnose her symptoms.
     We ask for God's comfort and peace for Janet Crawford and the family and friends of her cousin following his death.
     We continue to give thanks for the work God has done for the Nicolas family, and ask for continued blessings as they live in America.
     We give thanks for healing for Grace Roossien, along with reconciliation with her siblings.
     We ask for safety for all those travelling for Thanksgiving through treacherous weather, including Annette Vernon and Jerry and Claire Krempel's daughter Karen, who is visiting the Krempel's first great-grandchild.
     We pray for friends and family of Valley members: for Claire Krempel's friend's daughter Karen who is suffering from shingles.

Upcoming Events and Opportunities:

Parent's Night Out:
The first Parent's Night Out is scheduled for the evening of December 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mark your calendars and tell your friends, neighbors, and co-workers about this great opportunity for an evening out for the parents and a great evening of fun and faith formation for their kids.

Recommended Reading:

watch for the light book cover 2

    Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas is a collection of fairly short, daily readings for the seasons of Advent and Christmas from some of the very best Christian writers through the sweep of Christian history. You will be guided through your Advent preparations for the coming of Jesus, God and king, by people as diverse as Thomas Aquinas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and many more.
Church Telephone: 607.648.8224
Pastor Kurt's email:
Church email:
Valley Church calendar: here.
Sermon recordings: here.
Church website:

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please reply to this message with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line or simply click on the following link: Unsubscribe

Valley Church
1452 River Road
Binghamton, New York 13901

Read the VerticalResponse marketing policy.

Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!