Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Gift of Mission

We've received the Child Christ, God's gift of love--not in celebrating December 25th, but in having believed and baptized to be 'set apart for God.' We are set apart, not above. As a follower of Christ, God is sending you to bring God's gift of love into the lives of those around you; to make Him known.

We are to bring God's gift to someone this Christmastide. To whom will you bring Jesus. God has placed you where you are, at this time and in this place, so that God's gift of life might touch someone in your reach. God came to heal a broken and wounded world. And so you are sent to bring that healing into a person close at hand, someone you know, someone who you can see the hurt and the pain in their lives. You are bringing Jesus to them: How Jesus has made a difference in your life & Your belief that God can bring a change to this person's life.

You need to know Your Story. How has God changed you? How has God made a difference in your life? How has God healed you and made you whole? Make it short! I was searching, hurting, beaten down, without hope, alone, etc. And I asked God to take control. And this is what happened, how God transformed my life. The before only needs as much detail as will let the hearer know you had a real hole, a real wound, in your life--like them. What they want to hear is how God made things better--give them hope that God can do it in their life too!

Telling our story is something we should be doing with each other, over and over again. This is what I want to hear from other followers of Christ. It never gets old. It always reminds me of the good things God has done and is doing in my life too! Telling your story in Christ is what builds our foundation in Christ as the fellowship of believers.

There is no shortage of people who desperately need God in their lives. Talk to God about them; God knows who around you is hurting, lost, or lonely too. He knows whose hearts are open to receive Him and whose hearts are hardened. Ask God for an opportunity to tell your story and be ready.

You can measure the gift you've truly received this Christmas by the measure you've give Jesus to someone in these days that follow. God didn't so love the world that He kept it to Himself. And we can't call ourselves Christians if we aren't giving Jesus to people who need Him.

Alpine Christmas Day Community Dinner

Those who didn't have a place for Christmas Day dinner were able to join those who were willing to make a place. The good people of Blessed Trinity invited others to be part of the family this day and it was a great feast of song, food, fellowship, and happy people who were not in the least dampened by the cool winter rain on this Christmas Day.

This wasn't just a free meal. We asked everyone to help just as we do with family. Some folks brought food, some cooked, some set tables, some played music. We prayed and we got to know and be known by our neighbors. All said and done we worked together to make this a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus together and to share it with one another.

It was a great way to continue our celebration of the incarnation and sharing the gift of the Child Christ in our community. A blessed first day of Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas is Coming

FTGC at Viejas' Dream Catcher Lounge
Several of the guitarist played for the Welfare to Work Christmas Party thanks to Wanda and the SCAIR Center. We had a great time. You can hear the FTGC at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Carols.
So what Gift are you getting?
As Christmas preparations enter their final week, we shouldn't forget to ask God to open our heart to recieve the true gift of Christmas: the Child Christ. If we're worrying about the stuff we can easily be disappointed with rain drenching our parties or our decorations. We can easily be disappointed when folks are not of good cheer and downright mean or worse--having your house robbed will definitely disappoint most people's view of men and women. Opening gifts or having them opened; visits with relatives or friends. Freezing temperatures (yes, it is Southern California--it wasn't me singing White Christmas!).
So talk to God about what He wants to give you this Christmas. Let Him know all of the stuff going on in your life (the good, the bad, and the ugly). But it's His time to give you His most precious, most loved, most costly gift, His Son Jesus. With Jesus all the other gifts, all the other stuff, is put into perspective of your life with God for eternity.
I know that I want Christmas; God picked it out special for me.
Christmas Eve Service
6:00pm Carols at Alpine Elementary School
6:30pm Christmas Eve Mass at Alpine Elementary School
Christmas Day
9:30am Christmas Day Mass at Victoria House
11:00am Set up for Christmas Day Community Dinner at Alpine Community Center
11:30am Carols & Noon Dinner
10 Minute Teaching & Sunday Sermons Online
The first of our video recordings is now online. You can watch the video at The sermon should be posted by the weekend. Thanks to Gavin for requesting the leap in technology!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas: Sharing the Gift

"Keep Christ in Christmas" and "He's the Reason for the Season" are just two of the popular phrases to combating the secularization of the Birth of Jesus Christ. At least in some stores you're now wished a Merry Christmas instead of the flat Happy Holidays. But for Christians we need to remember that Christmas is about the Gift and sharing the Gift. Not the presents left under the tree. The Gift is the Christ Child--God's love made visible in our world in our mortal flesh.

The Christmas season (Advent to Epiphany) is our opportunity to Give Christ. We decorate our homes and our churches, prepare special meals, and play Christmas music. We sense that most people around us are trying to get into the Christmas Spirit. So if we want to truly combat secularism our task of first importance is to bring others to see the Christ Child.

Our Church, like many others will be having a Christmas Dinner. Many will invite those in their community to come to dinner. Ours will actually be on Christmas Day at noon. But the real opportunity we have is not providing music, prayer, a meal, and conversation with those who come from the community and how we witness Christ's love to them. Our real opportunity is to invite someone, to come help. They want to be part of the giving to others that goes beyond the material gifts. When you invite them to come with you to help at Christmas Dinner, you are asking them to help you, to be part of the Christmas Spirit, and to give the Gift of Service.

Share this Christmas in following the Servant Christ. ASK your neighbor or co-worker, Can you and your family come help serve Christmas Dinner to the Community. Give them a Gift of seeing the Christ Child, God's love being manifest to this world.

Invite someone to come and help you this Christmas Day. Allow them to help make something for the meal. Do let us know so we can plan on setting extra places at the table. The Location is the Alpine Community Center. Call or eMail Alice or Dru who are coordinating the food.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dec 4, 2008 "As We Forgive" A lesson from Rwanda

As We Forgive
While I have heard of the genocide of 1 Million Rwandans which occurred in 100 days in 1994, I was unaware that it was neighbor on neighbor and not tribal conflict. Imagine it was your neighbors, the people on your street, and those who you knew. I really couldn't imagine the depth of the impact on everyday life.
Last night I was blessed in seeing the Best Documentary winner of the 2008 Student Academy Awards film "As We Forgive." Laura Waters Hinson, the Director, spoke and answered questions afterward. She is an Anglican from the Washington DC area and had 30 days to document the courageous effort of Christians to forgive and bring forgiveness to hurting people.
Unlike watered down "Christianity" of our Western culture, the Rwandanese forgiveness is being brought to those who confess their sins. In our culture we rarely see the shame, the guilt, and the brokenness in the lives of those who are willing to admit their sin. The few surviving members of families killed in the genocide are paralyzed in their anger, fear, and the inability of any meaningful justice for these murders.
The blessing for me was to see the need for a return of God's peace in these broken lives and Christians working to bring the power of God's forgiveness into these lives. In responding to a victim's family member, the murderer could only respond, "Lord, have mercy" knowing his pleading was not enough. But the grace of God is transforming lives. The Rwandan bishop said, "Transformation is our life as Christians."
With all the horror, the pain, the devastation, this is a film about hope. Hope for individuals, for communities, and a Christian nation. For a poor country rebuilding the roads, the buildings, and the houses was the easy part. And for a wealthy nation like ours, how are we entering into the ministry of reconciliation?
Take the time to watch the 2 minute trailer As We Forgive.

FreeTeenGuitarClass Gives Thanks

The FTGC students helped provide music for the Alpine Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service. The guitarists were joined by the musicians of Bethel Christian Assembly. It was great having Bass, Drums, and Keyboard!

The FTGC will be playing at Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity on Sunday, December 7th. On Saturday, December 13th they'll be playing Christmas music before the theatre presentation of "A Journey through Christmas" at the Pine Valley Bible Camp Worthington Hall. The play features several of the Barrett kids and Jack Arnold. The music starts at 7pm & the play starts at 7:30pm.