Lessons and Carols Adapted from Presbyterian Church (USA)
Scripture Lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible
Processional Hymn: “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
Call to Worship:
Sing to the Lord a new song:
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord and bless God’s name:
Tell the good news of salvation from day to day.
Declare God’s glory among the nations, God’s marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world, and those who live in it.
Let the whole creation sing for joy at the presence of God, who is coming.
God is coming indeed, to judge the earth with righteousness, and the peoples with equity and truth, Praise the Lord!
Opening Hymn: “Once in Royal David’s City”
The First Lesson: Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19
8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
17 And to the man he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Carol: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
The Second Lesson: Genesis 22:15-18
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Carol: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
The Third Lesson: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Carol: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
The Fourth Lesson: Isaiah 11:1-4a, 6-9
The Peaceful Kingdom
11 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Carol: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”
The Fifth Lesson: Luke 1:26-35, 38
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Carol: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
The Sixth Lesson: Luke 2:1-7
The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Carol: “Away in a Manger”
The Seventh Lesson: Luke 2:8-16
The Shepherds and the Angels
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
Carol: “Angels We Have Heard on High”
The Eighth Lesson: Matthew 2:1-11
The Visit of the Wise Men
2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Carol: “We Three Kings of Orient Are”
The Ninth Lesson: John 1:1-14
The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Carol: “Silent Night, Holy Night”
Friends believe that God is our ever present teacher and guide, who wishes to commune with His creation. We celebrate this communion, this sharing of life with God and others through centering worship.
We also call this open worship or Holy expectancy because we wait in silence expecting to experience the presence of God in our lives.
It is silent during this time to encourage prayer and listening. If you feel God is prompting you to share please do.
The Lords Prayer:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen
Closing Hymn: “Joy to the World”
Willow Creek did not Meet for worship on December 18th, due to Icy conditions, but this is the sermon I would have given if we did.
Romans 1:1–7 (NRSV)
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6 including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This world is filled with stresses. The holiday season does not really help all that much with the stress. There are bills to pay and expectations to meet. In reality it makes me wonder why we even celebrate Christmas. Why do we celebrate a time that is dark and dreary, expensive and filled with anxiety? What if things are not what they seem?
For hundreds of years the Jewish people anticipated the coming Messiah. This individual was to be the king of kings, the lord of lords. He was to bring in and fulfill the promise that was given to their ancestors’ generations before. This coming king was going to restore the hope of the people and give them the freedom to live as one people with their God. This was not only a hope or a dream but it was promised by the prophets of old. This promise did not just stop with the Jews because the prophets declared from the very beginning of the tribes of Jacob that this one family was going to be the light to the Gentiles. Meaning through them the entire world would have hope.
The world does not seem to have much hope. It seems every year that the world loses a little more hope almost to the point that hope is a diminishing commodity much like the cash in my bank account. Little by little I spend the hope and there is no return on the investment. We read the laws handed down from Moses, we read the words of the prophets and they tell us to live a certain way and that if we live that way the claim is that our life would be blessed. Funny thing about that blessed life, Abraham the father of the Hebrew people did not see the fulfillment of the promise. He was to be the father of a great nation, he had two children. One was provided by a slave and the other came while he was an elderly man and his wife was also in the golden years of life. For decades they lived with hope that was not seen, and when the promised child did come it seemed pretty hard to imagine a great nation. Yet he continued to live in faith.
Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, was also given the promise of a nation and land, but he faced a great famine and he took his family to Egypt, settling in a land as far from the promise as he could get. This tribe did grow into a multitude, only to be enslaved by the people that once provided hospitality. How could one maintain hope when the promise is a great nation and you are living as a slave?
Eventually God delivered them from the bonds of slavery and they became the nation. They had a king that rivaled even the greatest empires in power though they were a fraction of the size. This king was David, and their God again promised that through this king this people would be a great nation and would become the light of the entire human race. David’s grandchildren saw the collapse of the nation instead of the expansion. They were promised one thing but they experienced the opposite. And slowly this divided nation crumbled and was conquered by outside forces and the people of God, who were to be the light of the world, were again exiled in chains.
Yet they lived with the hope of a coming king, a king who would bring about all the promised blessings that were passed down through the generations. They hoped yet for centuries this king did not come. Prophets told them about him, the teachers taught the children how to recognize him yet the coming king stalled. Imagine the feeling of the nation.
What would this group of people do as they waited for this king? Like us they saw that their hope was a diminishing commodity, they would not invest it unless there was a sure return. They began to spend their hope on the things the world valued instead of the things that they knew God valued. They became increasingly focused on their own desires. Pride, selfishness, lusts, idolatry took root and began to consume them. The people of God, the light of the world, became just another nation like every other. Their only hope was themselves and that was also the depth of their faith.
When our faith is placed in ourselves and our abilities our hope is a diminishing resource, because we cannot always accomplish everything. We have bad investments of our psychological, physical, and emotional resources which cause us to change our attitude and quite investing. For the most part we can actually make it through life quite well living like this, except for one thing our interpersonal relationships tend to suffer. When someone causes us harm we hold a grudge, when someone is encouraging we continue the friendship. As long as the relationship benefits us we continue. We become slaves to our lustful, greedy, and idolatrous desires. We place chains on ourselves and we think we are free, but we are only happy with more. The economic disciplines call this the law of diminishing returns. The world knows all about it yet it cannot break the chains.
So the Hebrews looked forward to the one that would break this cycle of bondage. They looked and waited. They studied and they interpreted the writings of the Law and Prophets. They interpret through the lenses of their chains, justifying conduct or losing all faith. They, like us, look at things through ideologies of man instead of the Word of God.
This is why Jesus the messiah came. He was the one anticipated, and through him we can see the truth of life with God. Jesus came as a baby that first Christmas, to grow and live a complete human life. Through Jesus we know how to live a complete life with God from childhood to our very death. But that life does not end there. Through his resurrection we have the hope that all things will be renewed and reconciled to God the Father.
This is why Paul begins this letter to the Romans with this hope. Jesus was the one anticipated through all of scripture, from the days of our first parent’s fall to the days of the restored temple and beyond. Jesus showed us true life, and thought Jesus we can live true life with God.
But what is that life? Paul calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ. Our English translations do not do this justice. Paul is not calling himself a butler of Christ, or the plumber of Christ. These are the ideas that come to mind when we think of servant or service. What he is saying is that his is a slave to Christ. A slave does not have personal rights, they are subject to the will of their master. They do not own property themselves but they may become stewards or care takers of their master’s property. Even though they may make decisions for the use of the property it is not their own, the profits of the investments go to the master and the master in turn provides for the needs of their slaves. Paul is saying that he is a slave to Christ, he does not own any property and has no rights outside of the will of his master. Everything Paul does is filtered through the life of Christ, every tent he made while on mission was an investment of Jesus’ property to expand the influence of Christ. Paul himself is no one without Christ.
Paul is a slave yet he also claims to have freedom or liberty in Christ. There is a conflict of ideas in language. He is a slave to Christ yet free, but mankind is free in themselves and a slave to their desires. Paul is content and says to live is Christ and to die is gain, and mankind says to live is self and to die is loss. The hope that Paul has does not diminish but only increases, the hopes of mankind in themselves only decrease. Our hope in Christ increases because Jesus took on complete human life though he was himself fully God, and he too on to himself the wages or chains that result from our selfishness, which is death. He went willingly to the cross, died, was buried, and on the third day rose from the grave with renewed life. Hope in humanity leads to death, hope in Christ leads to resurrection. This is the hope that we have in Christ, even when things seem to be going wrong in the world we know that we in Christ own nothing in ourselves, and all our investment results in profit for Christ. So whatever we invest for his glory will not return void but will be returned to life.
So during this season of anxiety and chaos as we prepare for and anticipate the holiday celebrating the birth and coming of our Lord and savior who took on life and death for us, I ask are we slaves to human greed, lust, and idolatry or are we slaves to Christ. None of us are true masters, we are all urged forward by something and serve it fully. So are we focused on the things of God or the things of man? One leads to life and resurrection the other will turn to dust. Who do you serve this Christmas?
Romans 15:4–13 (NRSV)
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel for Jews and Gentiles Alike
7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”; 10 and again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; 11 and again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; 12 and again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The greatest of all holiday traditions is when family and friends come together. We travel to one locations from across town or in some case across states, for no other reason but to be together. I love that. To be able to see those I love, all together at my grandparents, or my sister’s house. No one cares what you have done that year, they only want to be together. In the case of my family we watch movies, we laugh, play games, sing hymns, staying up late talking about just about everything, and laugh some more. I think I romanticize it a bit, but I love my family. I wonder often what it would be like if church was like one of those family gatherings.
I have often thought about this, because that is the sort of thing that I do. When I look at the life of Jesus I find that in a lot of ways that is exactly what being a follower of Jesus was like. His first miracle was performed at a gathering of family and friends, a gathering to celebrate the joining of two lives into one. And that miracle was focused on letting the party continue, He wanted the conversation and the celebration to continue. Then he goes out walking from town to town and people join his journey, they live life with him. Eating what he eats and walking where He walks. While they walked they talked, while they ate they laughed and discussed the topics of life and faith. These disciples became more than friends they became family, to the point Jesus looked down from the cross looking at his mother and his closest friend saying, “This is your mother and this is your son.”
But the crazy thing about this group of friends is who they were. Initially we could say that they were all basically the same because they were all Jewish. But that is similar to saying that all Americans are the same. None of us are exactly that same, and that is part of the beauty of our nation. We all have different ancestry, areas of interests, and have made different life choices. Some might even say that all Christians are the same, but again that is not exactly right either. Some enjoy rich ritual, while others desire silence. The Jewish people both as a secular culture and a religious body have differences. They had different political parties so to speak, and they have denominations. Some of those groups were very ritualistic and others were highly mystical, some were militant and others tried to figure out how to live best in their given situation. How did a group of fishermen, a tax collector, and a zealot end up traveling around the country with a former carpenter or mason? They did have something in common. They all had a desire to know God in a greater way, and Jesus said follow me.
When we look at the world around us, the people that we meet and interact with there is something we all have in common, each one of us is seeking something. We seek meaning in life, or maybe we have given up on that quest so we seek to survive. We want things to make sense and when we cannot quite grasp it we fill the voids with other meanings. Everyone we talk has some sort of explanation about their journey through life, they have found some sort of meaning and when asked most will share what they have learned. I have found those conversations interesting. This journey is one of those things that this season of Advent reminds us about. There is this anticipation of fulfillment on the cusp of our understanding, we gets glimpses and shadows yet it stand just beyond full view. It is like little flashes in the darkness, like lightening that illuminates the night sky.
So we are here, in this state, seeking answers and trying to interpret what we observe. Anticipation yet not even really knowing what it is we are seeking. Those that first heard this letter Paul wrote to the churches of Rome probably felt a bit like us today. And Paul tells them, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”
Listening to those words give me the sense that they understand my personal condition. They understand that at times life just doesn’t make sense and they too seek to find what it is I am looking for as well. It also gives me the assurance that this condition has been with humanity for a long time. Generations prior to the writing of the letter had also struggled with this thing we know as life. Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.
The histories of humanity were recorded for our instruction. The sacred texts of scripture were written for our instruction. They were written so that we generations from the events recorded in those ancient texts could learn how our ancestors dealt with the issues of their day. Wisdom is taking those words and translating and applying what we learn to our issues today. And when we do this especially with scripture, Paul says by the steadfastness and encouragement that we see in those words will give us hope.
Those issues that seem to plague us today, we can find hope in scriptures. When we are faced with the conflicting sides of oil pipelines and sacred lands of indigenous people, scripture can give us hope and encouragement in how to proceed in the face of this problem. When we have the uncertainty of election recounts, scripture can provide hope in the uncertainty. When our heart aches when we see photos of the children from Aleppo, Syria scripture can give us guidance, encouragement and hope. In every situation of life scripture can provide instruction. What we do with that instruction is another matter entirely.
The issue of how we apply the instruction that we gain from scripture is what divides us as followers of Christ. When I was a first became a pastor I was a member of a ministerial alliance in the community we lived. Every year this group of churches would come together to have joint services for Thanksgiving, during holy week, and on the national day of prayer. I had the privilege as the newest pastor in town to speak at one of those thanksgiving services. I remember the discussions on how we would proceed with the service, what we could do and what we couldn’t because we had every imaginable denomination represented and the service itself was being held in a Roman Catholic church. Every group had important aspects of worship they wanted to include and then there were the dogmatic regulations which dictated if those could be done among people of different faith communities. Communion was one of those issues. It is central to worship in many faith traditions, yet every denomination has a different understanding of the instructions given. Oddly the Quaker pastor was the most stubborn in this discussion, saying that communion is absolutely necessary and they all looked at me with horror because I was going to drag them into a war between the Protestants and Catholics. But I explained how we observe this communion between God and mankind, and they all agreed that they could participate in that. So a Quaker preacher spoke at the Catholic Church. The interesting thing about it was that the priest spoke to me later that year saying that the people of the church enjoyed that time of silence and they incorporated it in their Mass. We all have different interpretations of what scripture says and how it applies today, and at times these interpretations can be divisive. But they do not have to be.
Paul quickly writes a prayer for these people before he moves on. “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let that prayer sink into your souls for a moment. May the God of patience and inspiration allow us to grant grace to one another in Jesus. As we gain wisdom from instruction we receive from scripture to face these dark days of life, we need to recognize that there are different perspectives. Although we might not agree with the conclusion that someone has Paul urges us to extend the Grace Christ gave to us to those around us.
This is extremely difficult to put into action. I am a very opinionated person, and I try to tone it down as much as possible, but sometimes I just can’t help myself from getting into a debate. Even when the debate is doomed and I have no chance to persuade anyone to change their minds. How can I extend grace to those people on the other side of an issue when everything we believe seems to clash? Those beliefs I have are the interpretation of the teachings I have encountered over the years. And they just happen to have a different interpretation. Yet Paul says live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus. When those ideological clashes occur we need to step back and find the area we can proceed in harmony, and encourage one another to pursue those things. During that thanksgiving service so many years ago, that is what we did. Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, and Quaker all joined together worshiping God together. Because we realized that each of us wanted the other to follow Christ more intently. We were not trying to convert but to encourage just as Christ encouraged.
Paul goes on to say, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” How has Christ welcomed us? When he was on that cross, he cried out to the Father saying, “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” We do not know what we are doing, we go through life thinking we understand and then suddenly the floor seems to drop out from under us. We do not know what we are doing. We think we are doing right but in many cases we are on the wrong side of the issue, we have good reasons and we might even have the most correct answer but go about it in the wrong way. Paul goes as far as saying while we were enemies of God Christ died for us. While we were enemies Jesus welcomed us. While we opposed him he said forgive them. Do we do the same to those around us?
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction. We read these word and I hope we realize that at times our anticipated future might be the opposite of the anticipated future of another. We glean understanding from a passage and someone else might glean a different teaching. Welcome those people as Christ welcomes you, listen to them and encourage them in accordance to Jesus Christ, because we are all walking together through this journey of life and the portion of the pathway we tread might be a bit different from the one that they are walking. Ours might be smooth while theirs might have rocks. Ours may have mud and theirs may have roots. Ours might be clear and theirs might be covered in ice. Yet the path is leading the same direction, so be patient and encouraging helping one another through our own personal struggles so we all can continue on to Christ. We are all seeking and sometimes we all need a little encouragement to get us through.