Advent Reading #2: Light in Darkness

Today is the second Sunday of Advent—the yearly celebration that invites us to look back to Christ’s first coming in a manger, and forward to Christ’s second coming in glory.

That the season of Advent comes to us in December is no accident; in fact, its location in our yearly rhythm serves to make the experience of Advent that much more powerful. As the days grow colder, and the nights grow longer, we light candles on the Advent Wreath to push back the darkness with warmth and light.

The Advent tradition invites us to acknowledge the darkness in our lives and our world. In 2015, there have been 335 mass shootings in the United States; France was just recently wracked by terror and violence; Syria is in the midst of an ongoing civil war, which has created the greatest refugee crisis in recent history.

While these events make news headlines, what is so often forgotten is the sheer weight of sorrow in our daily lives, and the overwhelming weight of smaller injustices in our community and around the globe.

Against this backdrop of darkness and despair, the Advent Wreath is more than just a religious symbol: it’s a declaration to the world that our King is coming, and when He does, He will come with a sword, by which He will make all things new. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes,

The coming of God is truly not only a joyous message, but is, first, frightful news for anyone who has a conscience. And only when we have felt the frightfulness of the matter can we know the incomparable favor. God comes in the midst of evil, in the midst of death, and judges the evil in us and in the world. And, in judging it, He loves us, He purifies us, He sanctifies us, He comes to us with Grace and Love.

Put simply, Advent reminds us that this isn’t how the world was supposed to be, and that humanity is still plagued by sin and death. It reminds us that our King is coming—a King who says to us,

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Each week we light a new candle, and in accumulating the brightness, we signify our hope in the coming light of Christ that will ultimately extinguish every force of darkness—in heaven, on earth, and below the earth. Lighting these candles, then, is no mere act of religion or sentimentality; it’s an act of war against those forces of darkness that hold sway in our world.

By lighting the candles, we declare ourselves to be people of hope, who believe that though so much has yet to be put to right, there is a Coming King who will end the reign of darkness and usher in a New Kingdom of Glorious Light.

By lighting these candles, we enact our faith in the words of John:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

– – –

How long, O Lord, must we suffer under evil and darkness? Shine Your light on us this day, that our lives would point to the coming dawn of Your glory, by which the world will be healed and your people set free through Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. Amen.

BLOG: The Bonfire Sessions

it’s no secret that church is becoming less and less important to people in our culture—if you haven’t noticed, churches aren’t chock full of people like they were a generation ago. studies indicate that the Christian faith is shrinking—though, others interpret this data in a more positive light.

in either case, the fact of the matter is that while people are increasingly spiritual they are decreasingly interested in making church a part of their spirituality.

engaging with why that is, and how we can become a church that is safe for people who have walked away from “organized religion,” is going to be our focus throughout the summer at Regeneration.

together, we’ll have intentional conversation about the nature of faith, spirituality, and church—including topics like, “what is the miraculous?” and “why has church become so irrelevant?” we’re calling these conversations The Bonfire Sessions. 

now, before we go any further, here’s what we mean by conversation: there will be guided discussion thorugh an interview-style talk around a campfire. if you have questions, you can ask them—but if you just want to listen, that’s OK too. as always, you need to be who you are: and if you’re not a talker, but a listener, that’s awesome.

together, we’re going to take a fresh look at what it means to be the church—the people of JESUS—in a community that needs HIM terribly.

the bonfire sessions kick of June 21. don’t miss it! 

during the summer, {re}kids! will still be available for children pre-K thorugh 5th grades, and we’ll continue to have nursery care available, too. 

EVENTS: A Merry {re}generation Christmas

Christmas Web Banner

this December, we’re celebrating Christmas as a community for the very first time! how cool is that?! as we step into the most wonderful time of the year, don’t forget to mark your calendars with our events over the coming weeks.

Christmas Sermon Series – {re}joice in the Waiting | 11.30, 12.7, 12.14 at 6PM
together we’ll begin the Advent journey of waiting—and learn to find joy in the places where we still need rest, healing, and wholeness. each week we’ll tackle a place of waiting in our lives, and learn how to experience JESUS in those places. invite friends to join us for this series!

Christmas Vigil | 12.21 @ 6PM
we won’t gather on Christmas Eve, so join us for a special Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve service as we celebrate the season together. this will be a great experience for the whole family: we’ll have Christmas presents for every child, and our service will be fun and meaningful for all ages. (we will have childcare available for kids ages 0-3 if needed!) invite friends and family to celebrate with us!

Christmas Feast | 12.28 @ 6PM
when it comes to Christmas, the most fun you can have is over a meal. join us for a potluck dinner on December 28. wear an ugly sweater, and bring the kids for some fun games and Christmas cheer. sign up by 12.21 with what you’re bringing at the {re}connect desk!

and, don’t forget about our December One Thing—the Christmas Cookie Challenge!

 

BLOG: Don’t be a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins when it Comes to Hospitality

this weekend we dug deep into hospitality—that practice of creating sacred space for others to feel loved, cared for, and welcome. we identified three places for hospitality: our conversations, our homes, and our church, and some of us identified some ways we can become more hospitable. in today’s blog, we’ll offer a few more concrete ways to become more hospitable in the coming weeks. 

hospitality is hard—let’s get that out of the way. it takes time, money, energy, and creativity to use our resources to help others feel cared for. it gets even more challenging in the weeks surrounding the holidays—the expectations for being hospitable go through the roof while the time we have available to do it plummets. it’s a classic lose-lose scenario.

ninny mugginsthe problem is, we often don’t make smart choices to make the holiday season more manageable. instead, we’re just a cotton-headed ninny muggins about it. there are easier ways to be hospitable.  here are a few steps to making this season manageable and festive.

first, remember that it takes team work to make the dream work. punny, we know, but accurate. if you want to have a peaceful holiday party, don’t underestimate the power of team work. throw parties with a friend or two, and split the work. one of you hosts (thus the cleaning is on just one person) and the other cooks the food. all the fun, half the stress.

second, don’t be afraid of simple. don’t believe the lie that a party with “just appetizers” or “just desserts” is easier than a full meal. the reality is that it takes two or three times the work for half the food! this Christmas, befriend your crock pot and soups. you get a lot of payoff for less work!

third, remember the power of ‘no.’ part of what makes us crazy is that we don’t plan ahead, say yes to every invitation, and before we know it, it’s…Valentine’s Day. so sit down now before Thanksgiving and plan your December. watch out for church functions, yearly family get-togethers, and school parties. then make the crazy decision: what aren’t we going to do?

fourth, and finally, be intentional about personal and spiritual refreshment. the problem with Christmas is that it’s about, you know, Jesus. so when we get through this season without a kind of worshipful attitude, we feel…guilty? frustrated? drained? intentionally spending time with your family, engaging in spiritual reflection will make this season not crazy.

the holidays are supposed to be fun—so don’t be a cotton-headed ninny muggins. be hospitable, and smart, and enjoy the holidays this year.

A Word from Kyle: About ‘The Feast’

FEAST HEADER

friends,

i’m so excited for this weekend’s start to our new series, “the fest: experiencing the presence of JESUS.” when i started to plan out this four-week teaching experience, i had no idea what would be in store. i’m already so excited to open up the STORY of GOD and dive in.

soon we’ll gather around tables with our friends and family for one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. we’ll laugh, share stories, and make new memories. in this series, we’ll discover the amazing fact that JESUS is inviting us to another feast, a greater one, that takes place at the table of HIS presence. at this feast, every hunger will be satisfied

every feast has at least four major ingredients: an invitation to join, guests who sit at the table, a meal to devour, and a host who started the whole thing. each week, we’ll look into each one of these ingredients, starting this week with the invitation.

speaking of invitations, i hope you’ll offer one to someone and bring them with you this weekend!

we’re all in this together,

pastor kyle

PS: and since it’s a new month, we have a new ONE THING! see you Sunday!