What We’re Waiting For

What We’re Waiting For
by Pastor Dan Palomino

Hope and Peace go hand in hand. That’s what Advent is all about. And oh, how we need both as we wait on the Lord! Two other elements that fit right in here are Faith and Love. Jesus came into this world to bring us hope and peace, and that we might know his love through faith in him.

Luke announces the peace that Jesus brings by quoting the messenger, the angel of the Lord: “‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’…And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:11-14)

But how can we have hope when things don’t go the way we had thought they would? How can we have hope when we are disappointed in God, when we feel like he has let us down, or when things happen in life that we don’t understand?

Jesus himself answers these questions by telling us that our ultimate hope does not come in this lifetime but in what is to come. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 14:33)

He came that we might have peace. How can we have peace in the midst of the tribulation? The same way Jesus could sleep soundly in the back of the boat while the storm raged on. Because Jesus is still with us, God is with us. That’s what we read in scripture and sing about, especially at Christmastime. Maybe that’s a problem. We tend to reflect upon the name, Emmanuel (which is a promise that means “God is with us”), mainly at this time of year. Yes, the promise is there that God is with us in the Christ child, but we have to remember that God is always with us. That’s why Jesus gave us his Holy Spirit. “Very God of very God” dwells within every person who puts their trust in him.

That’s how we can face tribulation, that’s how we can endure the storm. This is how we can have hope when we’re faced with illness, joblessness, injustice, oppression, broken relationships, hatred, loss, or even death. Peace gives us hope. Hope enables us to be at peace. God is ALWAYS with us and not just when he was here physically roaming the earth as a carpenter’s son. The very name given to him was a sign to us that God IS (not was) with us!

Jesus tells his disciples (and us), “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) He tells us this right after he promises the Holy Spirit to each and every believer.

This is how we know that he loves us and how we can know his love for us. “For God so loved the world” —that is, God loved the world in such a way— “that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” For Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it. (John 3:16-17)

We can experience the “Peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) in the midst of life’s difficulties because of the hope we have in what is to come, eternal life, when we will no longer have to face any kind of tribulation. Faith and hope go hand in hand, as well. (See Hebrews 11:1.)

The peace that Jesus promised us so long ago is not a peace that is to come, it is for now, in the midst of the tribulation that he told us we will face in this world, in this life. But there will come a time when we will no longer need faith and hope because we will be right there with the LORD, face to face, gazing upon him in all his fullness. For now, though, we need faith, hope and peace because we can only see God as in a dimly lit mirror. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

For now, we have faith, hope (peace) and love because of the birth of Jesus into the human family and the work he accomplished on the cross for which he was born. That waiting is over. The waiting we endure now is for his return. The greatest of these three (faith, hope and love) is love. Why?

Because love lasts forever, it goes on into eternity. (1 Corinthians 13:8) In the eternal realm, we will no longer need faith and hope (or peace) because our faith and hope will have come to fruition. We will revel in the glory of the perfect and everlasting love of God!

It’s worth the wait.

Enjoy the Story

by Heather Larson

A few years ago, I discovered that I had stopped reading fiction. Oh, not completely, I suppose, but all the voracious and fascinated fiction-reading of my childhood and young-adulthood had been replaced by books about how to do things (parenting, writing, art, cooking). How could I have changed so much, I wondered.

Last night I read a story by George MacDonald in which a character stops reading fiction (he had been a fan of Milton and Spenser). Then he stops reading history, and eventually reads only politics and current events. He finds that “he had been growing fonder of business” which the author tells us is a bad sign for a man like him. The story made me think of that year when I realized how little fiction I had read. I, too, had grown “fonder of business”—of figuring out how I could get things done well. Feeling very responsible as a parent of young children, I gave way to the American worship of productivity and the practical. After a time, it was only attractive to read or think about things that would make me feel competent, and books that I would do something with. 

So how did God rescue me from my growing narrowness? I made some efforts to change my patterns that year, but I was not very effective—when habits have become tastes they are hard to change. God’s rescue came from my desire to read to my children. I wanted to give them the joy I’d had in stories, and reading to children seemed a responsible, practical thing to do. I did it for the children’s sake, but God used it to work on my heart. Again and again, over the years since, I have found myself crying, worshiping, or convicted. I am more alive and open to the Spirit when I have set aside self and entered into a story.

How on earth does this relate to Advent? It relates because Christmas is, above all, a time to read and enjoy a particular story: the story of Jesus’ birth. On the other hand, it is also a time of year when over-allegiance to productivity becomes very tempting. There have been Decembers when I have spent more time reading my To-Do list than my Bible. In a “To-Do” mode, it is easy to start treating Bible reading itself as a kind of productivity: checking it off a list, or feeling the pressure to wring a daily application from a very familiar text. Jesus’ story is not like the parenting and cook books; it’s not a story to do something with. It is a story to be enjoyed. We need to open up the beginning of Matthew, and the beginning of Luke, and enter in like the child with a favorite storybook. We need to lay aside self, and let the story—and the Holy Spirit—do something to us.

6-9-19

Please join us in praying for Groots as they serve in Southeast Asia for the next six months.

Special Members Meeting: June 23
FOL members, join us for a special meeting after the service on Sunday, June 23rd in the auditorium. There will be a congregational vote related to the officers’ terms and the new fiscal year.

Family Center Coin Collection: June- July
Help support the Family Center! With your loose change, you can help us renovate the Family Center. Please see Emily after church to pick up a coin canister. Collection dates will be: 6/23; 6/30; 7/7; 7/14.

Annual Family Picnic: June 30
Please save the date for our 3rd annual Family Picnic on Sunday, June 30th. This year’s festivities will include an outside summer-themed potluck, shaved ice, and the official Teter Sabbatical sendoff. Please visit the info table to sign up to bring a dish.

Kidz Camp Save the Date: July 22-26
FOL Families, please mark your calendars! Our annual Kidz Camp (VBS) will be Monday, July 22 – Friday, July 26 from 6:30-8:30pm. Pre-register at the Info Table today!

Family Camp Registration Open
Family Camp will be September 20 – 22nd at Forest Home Campgrounds. Registration will be first come, first served, until August 25th, or until spaces are filled.

Youth Summer Weekly Events Begin

  • Youth Group: HS students meet Wednesdays from 7 – 9:30 pm at the FOL Training Center
  • Middle School youth meet Fridays from 7 – 9:00 pm at the Family Center.