Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

By Erin Bird

Christmas time is here! So I will keep this short and sweet this week.

Please join us tonight at 4:30 pm for our Candlelight Christmas Eve service as we celebrate the coming of Christ. We’d love to have you grab a mask and your family and join us in person at our new building (2704 5th Ave NW in Waverly Iowa). But if you need to be at home, please join us online. We’ll sing some songs, have a “kids” moment, hear a brief message (that concludes our Christmas Songs series), light the Christ candle on our Advent wreath, and then light our own personal candles as we worship Jesus and thank Him for coming to earth for us.

So I hope to see you tonight. And if I don’t see you, have a wonderful Christ-focused worship-filled Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

Here are some Spotify and YouTube Christmas playlists that will help your heart worship God today and tomorrow through music:

Spotify
Advent Conspiracy “Worship Fully” Playlist

The Gospel Coalition’s 2020 Advent Playlist

YouTube
Essential Worship’s Christmas Worship Songs

The Oh Hello’s “Family Christmas” Album

Worship Fully this Christmas

Worship Fully this Christmas

By Erin Bird

This week, we conclude our Advent Conspiracy series, looking at the final tenet of “Worship Fully.” And to help us contemplate how to do just that, here is the blog post from the Advent Conspiracy team:


For many of us, the time of year when focusing on Christ should be the easiest is often the hardest. Our calendars are full of activities, the to-do lists are getting longer, the stores are getting busier, and an overwhelming stress has crept into our hearts. And it doesn’t help that this time around we are facing a pandemic.

So how do we get back to the heart of the Christmas narrative?

For starters, worship. Each year, Advent brings an opportunity to worship the miracle of the Incarnation when God revealed himself to people in a new way. If you read the Christmas narrative, nearly every character who encountered the infant King had the same response: worship.

Excitement, anticipation, hope—each of these emotions swell around the object of our dearest affection. The reality is that we spend our time and energy on what matters most to us. Notice what you’re spending your time and energy on. Is it drawing you closer to God or is it distracting you from something else?

Here’s a tough question: Does the way we spend our time, money, and energy testify that we worship God incarnate? Sit with that today. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to the truth.

Some activities to help you Worship Fully:

  • Make the most of the last week of Advent by reading some Advent Devotionals or Advent Liturgies.
  • Call a friend  and see how they’re doing. Listen well.
  • Have your kids read the Christmas story while setting up the nativity or before opening presents.
  • For one night, unplug from all technology and social media. In a world full of noise, be intentional about quiet time.
  • Turn the radio off in the car and spend 10 minutes thanking God for the ways He has blessed you.
  • Listen to the Advent Conspiracy playlist on Spotify. Let the lyrics settle into your heart.

Love All this Christmas

This week, we jump into Part 3 of our Advent Conspiracy series, looking at the tenet of “Love All.” And to help us contemplate how we can do just that, once again here is the team from Advent Conspiracy with some thoughts:


At Christmas, one of the things that should distinguish a Christ-follower is a love that reaches out to the marginalized and the forgotten.

Such giving is an act of true worship. For Jesus this is personal. Read the Christmas narrative and remember that the Son of God chose to be born into a family that was struggling with poverty. Nobody expected the Messiah to be born in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem.

Over and over again in Scripture, we see Jesus teaching that He is on the side of the impoverished. As followers of Christ, we are called to do the same–to lavishly love the poor, the hurting, and the lonely. The people in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our cities, and around the world.

When God’s people serve in humble, generous ways, the story of Jesus is told again and again. The poor in our world will be touched by God through how we choose to celebrate Christmas. Through our actions and our words, people will be reminded that they are loved by the Creator of the universe and He has not forgotten them.

When we show up and love in the name of God, God shows up.

That’s part of the mystery of partnering with Jesus in the work he is still doing. Remember to love and serve not out of a place of guilt but as an act of worship. We must not forget that. The good news of the gospel is for all people, including us! We radically love others because we have personally experienced the radical love of God. That changes our hearts and it should change the way we celebrate Christmas. As it says in 1 John 4:19: “We love because He first loved us.”

Ways to Love All this Christmas:

  • Donate the money you saved from spending less.
  • Invite someone to church with you this week.
  • Be the person with an extra dose of patience this week. Listen well to others, offer grace.
  • Read Matthew 25. Notice how much Jesus cares about the way we love and serve others.
  • Serve at the monthly Waverly Food Pantry in January or the Wednesday Café on Dec 31.
  • Pray for families around the world that are in need: single moms, refugees, villages without clean water, the homeless in your city.

In light of this week’s topic of Love All, we want to show love to our “neighbors” in the Northside neighborhood of Minneapolis by giving our Impact Gift to Patrick Ray and his church planting team. We are collecting our annual Impact Gift on Sunday, Dec 20. If you won’t be able to join us on the 20th, or would prefer to give online, you may do so here; just be sure to select “Christmas Impact Fund” in the drop-down menu.

Spend Less

By Erin Bird

With Christmas rapidly approaching, let’s jump back into our “Advent Conspiracy” series, conspiring together to make this the most meaningful Christmas ever. And to do so, here is the blog post from the Advent Conspiracy website on the topic of “Spend Less,” one of the four tenets of this “conspiracy.”

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Spend less is an ambiguous goal. Spend less than last year? Spend less than my neighbor? The truth is there is no formula. The challenge of this tenet is to be willing to ask more questions and then be open to hearing what God says in return. Some questions you could ask might be…

  • Is this something I want or something I need?
  • Why do I want to buy this?
  • What kind of company am I supporting if I purchase this product?
  • Can I afford to spend this amount?
  • How many presents do we actually need?
  • What did we do with the presents from last year?

You see, spending less requires us to plan. Instead of mindlessly shopping online and ordering more than we know what to do with, we take the time to think about each purchase. We strive to thoughtfully evaluate what we support with our spending, and allow our spending to support products, people, and causes worthy of being supported. By spending a little less on ourselves we are able to more joyfully give to others in need.

It is not enough to say “no” to the way Christmas is celebrated by many; we need to say “yes” to a different way of celebrating.

It’s important to remember that when we choose to spend less on Christmas presents, it doesn’t mean that we love our friends and family any less. In fact, for many of us, we’ve found that the creative, intentional gifts we give showcase our love – and perhaps God’s – more clearly than ever before.

More than just an invitation to say no to overspending, this is an invitation to a new way of celebrating. This year start a new tradition of spending compassionately and responsibly.

Some ideas to help you Spend Less this Christmas:

  • Make a Christmas budget and then stick to it. Don’t compare yourself to others; pray and do what is best for your family.
  • Research companies that are Fair Trade.
  • Pray for the people on your Christmas list before purchasing anything. Make spending a conscious decision that engages your heart.
  • It’s not just about the presents. Notice how much you’re spending on other Christmas activities (going out to eat, new outfits, wrapping paper, decorations, etc.). Find one area where you can cut back this year.
  • Write down five things you’re thankful for. Take inventory of how blessed you already are.
  • Set a spending limit as a family. Let everyone have the same amount to spend on each other. You’ll be surprised at how creative your kids will get!
  • Donate old and unused clothes, toys, and books to a local organization. Notice how much stuff you actually don’t use or need.

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By “Spending Less,” you set yourself up to “Give More” which we will talk about next week. ‘Til then, have a great week!

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