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~ The First Sunday of Advent ~
Valley News
November 30, 2018
" 'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
" 'In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The LORD Our Righteous Savior.' "

~ Jeremiah 33.14-16
     This Sunday is New Year's day! It is the first Sunday of Advent. We begin another year with a season of waiting and preparation in hopeful anticipation and expectation. The very first reading we will hear from this Sunday (from Jeremiah) tells us, "The days are coming . . ." Those words remind us that not only were the people to whom Jeremiah was prophesying looking ahead to "the days [that] are coming" when God will fulfill the good promise he made to Israel, but that we too are waiting for the days that are coming for the complete fulfillment of those promises at Christ's coming. Our coming celebration of Christmas is not merely a backward reflection on a past even of God's coming, but also a hopeful forward look to his coming again. (Remember that advent -- a middle English word from the Latin adventus -- simply means coming). Both the grateful reflection on past events and hopeful anticipation of future events require preparation. That's what the season of Advent is all about: joyful and hopeful preparation for the advent of the King. We must, as Jesus says in Luke's gospel, "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." So let us resolve (it's the new year, so time for resolutions!), in this season of Advent, to keep watch that we might be prepared in heart and mind to stand before the manger in Bethlehem with all the reverent and joyful celebration that Christ's incarnation demands, and also stand before the coming King as he comes in glory and might "on that day" of his coming again.
     This year each Sunday we will be hearing from the four readings assigned for the season of Advent in the Revised Common Lectionary. (We will normally sing the assigned Psalms and other scriptural songs). This week's readings are
  • Jeremiah 33:14-16
  • Psalm 25:1-10
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
  • Luke 21:25-36.
I encourage you to read and reflect on all of those readings prior to our time together on Sunday morning.
"All in Good Time"
     As noted above, this Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent (also the first day of the new year). Jennifer has written two "All in Good Time" reflections -- one for the whole season of Advent and one for the first Sunday and the first week of Advent (including information on Saint Nicholas' feast day). You can read the reflections on the whole season of Advent here, and the reflection on the first week directly below.

Week of December 2 – December 8
First Sunday of Advent, 2018

     This week we will light the first candle in our Advent wreath and particularly remember that Christ came to bring us hope. Along with the prophet Jeremiah, we are watching and waiting, knowing that the earth is “groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22) and yet also knowing that we have a sure hope of “the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).  

This week:
St.Nicholas Day (December 6): Many of us know that the current-day character we know as Santa Claus (or Saint Nick or Father Christmas) has its roots in this early saint of the Christian church. Nicholas was a bishop in Greece and was known for his generosity and selfless deeds. What you may not know is that Nicholas was also a major opponent of the Arian heresy (Do you remember this one from Kurt’s sermon few weeks ago? This is the heresy which claimed that Jesus was created by God, not co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father.). Tradition claims that, at one point during the Council of Nicaea, Nicholas became so angry with the heretical statements that Arius was making that he stood and hit him on the mouth (Let us Keep the Feast 10). Truly, this is a man worth remembering, and not just as “jolly old Saint Nick.” Many European countries observe December 6th (the day on which he died in AD 343) with traditions of children setting out their shoes the night before filled with hay or carrots for St. Nicholas’ horses, which he will then replace with a candy treat or small presents. Today might be a good day to enjoy some good chocolate (coins are traditional, but really anything rich and European would do!) and plan your year-end charitable giving.
The Follow-Up:
     A few weeks ago during the sermons (for a few weeks running) we looked at some of the results of the State of Theology survey and discussed things like the doctrine of the Trinity and full divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. For a humorous exploration of the those doctrines, I encourage you to watch this short video from the folks at Lutheran Satire. (As a bonus, you can watch this one in which Donnall and Connall from the previous video meet the famed atheist Richard Dawkins).
Upcoming Events and Opportunities:

Safe Church Training:
     There will be a Safe Church abuse prevention training this Sunday, December 2 after the service (approx. 11:30). If you are involved with caring for, teaching, or transporting the children and youth of Valley Church, you are strongly encouraged to attend. All other folks are welcome as well! Valley's abuse prevention policies and procedures will be reviewed, and you will have an opportunity to affirm your commitment to keeping our church a safe place for children and families. Please contact Leslie Vermaat or Pastor Kurt to let them know you are coming. Thank you!
KNO Live Nativity:
     This year, for a twist on our annual tradition, we will be combining Kids' Night Out and the Live Nativity. The children who come for KNO will have the opportunity to tell the story of Jesus' birth to their parents and friends in the Live Nativity. We will have the KNO Live Nativity on Saturday, December 15. The kids will arrive at 5:00 and they will perform one Live Nativity show at 7:30 p.m. The show will be followed by a reception with cookies and hot drinks upstairs.
     This is a new adventure that presents new opportunities and new challenges. There will be far more kids in the nativity than in previous years. This means we need help getting them fed, into costumes, in the right places at the right times, etc. There are sign-up sheets in the foyer that indicate ways you can help out. Please look at those sheets and consider a way you can help make this first ever KNO Live Nativity a success.
     Also, please invite neighbors, friends, and extended family to come and celebrate the coming of our God with us!
Faith Formation Opportunities:
     This Sunday the teens will meet at 6:00 p.m. at the Nelsons' house to continue their study, "Living Your Faith in a Messed Up World: a Look at the Contemporary Testimony."
     On December 9 we will wrap up our  intergenerational exploration of the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism. The class is designed to be accessible to everyone roughly middle school (or even upper-elementary) through adulthood. Feel free to join us even if you missed the previous classes.
Valley Church

Gathered as God's family and sent into the world as agents of God's mission of renewal.

This Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent:
Worship Service at 10:00 a.m.

Children pre-K through 5th grade will go to Sunday School following our celebration of baptisms and welcome of new members.

Safe Church abuse prevention training meeting for those who work with Valley children and youth following the service of worship.

Teen faith formation at the Nelson's house at 6:00 p.m.
That we might better pray for one another and God's world:

     We continue to pray for healing and health for: Ann de Jager, Daryl Whitacre, Ethan Stocum, Frank Lockwood, Peter DeYoung, Beth Blake, Lily Beardsley, and Amy Beardsley.
We pray for friends
and family of Valley members:
     we pray for continued healing for Jessica Zuiderveen and for the Zuiderveens as they seek God's guidance for their future once their term as missionaries to Haiti ends later in 2019.
     We pray for healing: for the Monroes' nephew Joshua; for the de Jager's grand-nephew Cole as he continues his treatments for cancer; for Mike Flynn's mother, and for peace for her and the rest of her family; for Marcus Doller's mother; for David Derzanovich's brother-in-law Tim; for Martheen Griffioen as she battles cancer; for Jim and Becky Stocum's friend Eric who is battling brain cancer; for Adam Derzanovich; for Alistair Krempel.
Sunday Morning Ministries
for December 2, 2018:

Greeter: Terry Woodnorth

Ushers: David Derzanovich and Herleen DeYoung

Intercessory Prayer: Kurt Monroe

Scripture Readers:
1st Lesson (Jeremiah 33:14-16): Trent Nelson
2nd Lesson (1 Thessalonians 3:9-13): Paul Peterson
3rd Lesson (Luke 21:25-36): Ana Monroe

Nursery: Jim & Sue Comfort
Resources and Opportunities from the CRC:
Our Only Comfort in Troubled Times ~ A Devotional:
   The folks who bring you the Today devotional have worked to create a special devotional entitled "Our Only Comfort in Troubled Times," which is designed around the first questions and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism. They offer a 21 day version or an abridged 7 day version. For more information and links to the website see here. You could incorporate this into your personal preparations for Christ's coming during this season of Advent or perhaps bookmark the website for later use at some other point during the coming year.
Faith Formation Ministries Newsletter:
     Faith Formation Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church produces its own newsletter with faith formation tips and resources for individuals and families. There's a subscribe button in the upper left if you want to start receiving it regularly. Check out the most recent edition here.
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