I am a movie nut, so for those of you who hate sports analogies today you’re safe. At least mostly. I really like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Especially the second movie. The main battle in that movie has the main characters cornered in a small citadel known as Helm’s Deep. The enemy is inside the gates and their overwhelming numbers are moving against the much smaller force of our heroes. Hope has grown dim and the King takes to his horse to ride out for a final charge.
As the King rides out with his loyal followers to a certain death in the back of everyone’s mind is the promise of relief that was to come at sunrise. But the rising sun is only just beginning to brighten the sky. Then just when all seems lost the promised relief appears coming over the crest of the hill. Down they charge into confused ranks of enemy soldiers and soon the battle is won, our heroes are victorious. This is the kind of scene that moves us, a story where the people we have come to love come to the brink of death, where they teeter on the edge of destruction, before being miraculously delivered.
When I was a kid, I hated watching movies about Jesus. They always ended with the cross and a full grave. None of the movies told the story of the resurrection. To me at the time it seemed so unsatisfying. It didn’t end the way it should. I felt cheated because it didn’t tell the rest of the story. It didn’t describe the complete victory of the Hero.
In many ways the story of the arrest, trial, death and resurrection makes no sense to those of us conditioned by Hollywood to see the hero victorious. Consider the following: What is thought by his enemies to be the end for Jesus starts with a small skirmish between two forces. Jesus is in a garden called Gethsemane, spending time with his friends, praying to his Father. A small army approaches in the darkness, led by a turncoat, a betrayer. The company of soldiers will take Jesus, they say. He is to be arrested and to be tried. As the soldiers reach for Jesus, his friend Peter jumps to his defense. But instead of hearing praise for his bravery he hears rebuke.
In Matthew 26, Jesus says, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” Think about that. Jesus could have been delivered from what looks like his great defeat. With a single word he can summon not just one legion of angels—perhaps 5,000 or 6,000 warriors—but twelve of them, more than twelve, tens of thousands of angels. In an instant he could call out a great force to rescue him, to deliver him from his humiliation. The Bible often shows us the power of a single angel; the power of a multitude is unimaginable.
That, however, is not His Father’s will and so it cannot be his will. He is able but not willing. He will remain silent. That great army will remain invisible, ready as they always are, but not summoned. Not this time. Victory must come a different way. Jesus’ story will not be the kind where an unexpected army arrives to save the day. He will be the hero, he will be delivered, but in a very different way. He is forced out of that garden and dragged before the rulers and condemned to die and nailed to a cross, and there he dies. There he draws his last breath and gives up his spirit and is still. Hope seems lost.
Still, victory will come, but it will have to come in a wholly unexpected way. There are no trumpets to announce this victory. No herald cries out. Victory comes with no witnesses to see it. Victory comes in the terrible darkness of a tomb. It comes with a sudden gasp of breath, a rush of warmth, of life, through a stiff body, the sudden beating of a heart that for three days has been still. Lungs fill with air, eyes flutter, open, take focus. Fingers begin to move and then to pull off grave cloths wrapped around hands and feet and chest and face. He sits, then stands, then strides as the stone rolls from the entrance. He stoops. For a moment the light casts a shadow back over the play where he lay, and then he is gone, victorious. He has won. He has conquered.
At this time of year we celebrate the birth of a child born in the most humble of circumstances. The thing is, though, the birth is just an announcement of a future death. The three wise men who would visit following the birth bring gifts. One of those gifts is frankincense and myrrh. The common use for these spices was for coating the bodies of the dead prior to burial. The plan of God has never been something that made sense to man. It is not until after the birth and death of Jesus Christ that we fully understand the depth of God’s love for his rebellious creation.
There is a tendency to present only the joyous part of the story to those who are lost. Don’t cheat them. Don’t give them a partial story. When you share with people during this season give them all of the story. The Love. The Forgiveness. The Sacrifice. This story has been referred to as the “Greatest Story Ever Told” IN reality Without all of it they cannot fully comprehend the story, nor can they fully receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.
-Pastor Matt Bishop
LIBRARY LEDGE – CHRISTMAS
Let us reflect on the birth of our Savior and what His life means for us.
We have a LOT of new Christmas books thanks to generous donations to our library!
Thank you for your donations!
Some of them are: Julotta: a story of faith & love by Tracie Peterson, The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck, At Christmas the heart goes home: a holiday treasury by Marjorie Holmes, A midnight clear: stories for the Christmas season by Katherine Paterson, A Christmas promise: a Cape Light novel by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer, The quiet little woman by Louisa May Alcott, two Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas books and many more!
Don’t forget we have children’s Christmas books available in the fellowship hall. Take some time to read this Christmas.
A young couple with children, a middle age couple and a single man have been chosen for our church to share. Their gift requests are on poster in the entryway. There are still gifts and food items needed. Used items they’d appreciate include towels, rugs, comedy DVD’s, XL ladies clothing, coffee pot, pots & pans, dishes. Wed. December 16 will be our final day for collecting. If you are not able to shop, you can give Margaret $$ to purchase items. If you are not able to attend the Christmas Eve service, you may give your offering any Sunday. Be sure to write “White Gift” on your check or envelope. Both ministries will appreciate your prayerful and financial support as they continue to do God’s work. If you are not able to attend the Christmas Eve service, you may give your offering any Sunday. Be sure to write “White Gift” on your check or envelope.
White Gift Offering
Everyone is invited to gather at Bangor Liberty on Christmas Eve at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate Jesus’ birth during the annual Candle Lighting Service. The White Gift offering collected Christmas Eve will be shared between Jonathan’s House in Sierra Leone and the Quakerdale Prep School & Basketball program.
From the Jonathan’s House newsletter March 2015: “Whether our children are physically perfect or missing an arm or leg, whether they are well behaved, or struggle daily with anger or authority issues– or in all reality just struggle with being shown love and believing it will last– ARE LOVED.
We desire deeply to give love to as many children as God leads to us this home. Please pray that we will follow God in this. Money talks and makes things move– but God is more powerful than money, than governments, than man.
Child labor and child trafficking are at an opportune time to greatly increase. The number of teenage pregnancies has dramatically gone up. Our education is further behind than it was. The economy is shot. Jonathan’s House has even more people to reach out, more lives to reach for Jesus. May we continue to seek him and follow where he leads us. Tough places, tough battles– may we always follow HIM.”
The Quakerdale Prep Academy is a post-secondary basketball prep program located in New Providence, which provides young men with the opportunity to reach their goals of becoming better men, as well as student-athletes. Eagle Basketball is part of the Quakerdale Promise Academy which consists of Christ-Centered Learning Communities Connecting Knowledge and Life Experiences. You can cheer on the team when they have home games. Check Larry Ketcham is serving his first year as the Director of Basketball and third year as school administrator. He will be sharing with us at BLFC on December 13. Join us in the fellowship hall at 8:30 for a light breakfast provided by the Quaker Men while we hear about both of these ministries. Both ministries will appreciate your prayerful and financial support as they continue to do God’s work
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Everyone is invited to the BLFC Christmas Eve Candlelight service on Thursday, December 24 @ 7 pm. This service will include special music, lighting of the Advent candle, a Christmas message, white gift offering and candlelight singing of Silent Night. Bring your family and friends to celebrate the season of Christmas with the birth of Christ.
Beginning January 6, we will offer a class during Deeper on Wednesday night combining a study of various religions and how to most effectively evangelize the followers. The focus will be on understanding what the followers of Mormonism, Judaism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholicism and Islam believe and how we approach each group with the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
DEC 20TH A SUPER CHRISTMAS.
BLFC WILL BE HAVING THEIR
CHILDREN CHRISTMAS PROGRAM THIS SUNDAY. PRACTICE TIMES WILL BE
the following website for their schedule:
If you have questions, please call Dani Junker or Josie Evertsen
BLFC YOUTH NEWS
Everyone can now go to the BLFC website and click on the youth tab to see the youth newsletter and contact information. Go to blfchurch.org, click on BLF youth or at \Blfyouth.weebly.org Breanne
Looking ahead: the youth group has adopted a family for Christmas and will be shopping and delivering gifts to them
The youth have made a Mission Wall O’ Money that is in the entry way. Please consider stopping to grab an envelope with a special verse or prayer request from them but also to give the amount that is on the front of the envelope then drop it in the drop box! Thank You!
Please come and join us!!!
Christmas Caroling will be on Wednesday, December 23.
There will be 3 groups with the following leaders:
Union area: Joe & Kay Feltz, will meet at the Ginger Snap in Union
Clemons & State Center: Don & Shirley Davis, will meet at the church
Marshalltown: John & Margaret Good, will meet at the Embers (east main door) in Marshalltown
The meeting time for caroling will be 4:45 pm. or whatever time designated by the leaders.
The plan is that each group would meet at a designated place for caroling and then come to the church at 7 pm for a grilled cheese and soup supper together.
We will have sign-up sheets available. Hope you can join one of the groups.
The new Sunday School for ages PreK thru 4th Grade will start 12/27. The pre K thru 4 th graders will be divided into 2 groups for the Rotation Sunday School. First Rotation will be 4 weeks.
Next Christian Ed meeting will be Jan 24, 2016 after worship.
HOC MEAL REPORT
On November 27, 19 people were involved in preparing, serving and cleanup for 35 guests. Our meal included breaded chicken strips, vegetable soup, crackers, biscuits, mixed fruit, pasta salad, raw carrots, cherry & apple dump cake w/whipped topping or coffee cake, milk and coffee.
Thanks to our great volunteers! We have a lot of fun while we work. Ask Jo how many Quaker it takes to dump chicken strips into a roaster and Tom how to fix an oven. Our next meal will be Thurs., December 31. Let Margaret know if you or your family can help.
Plans have stared for Vacation Bible School. Dates: July 17-21 Program on July 22, 2016 There will be more information as we get closer to the date.