What is a Service of Hope?

It started as an ordination project.

Two years ago I had to lead a “fruitfulness project” to fulfill one of my ordination requirements. The project is intended to demonstrate a pastor’s effectiveness in leading a ministry that seeks to make disciples. That is the simplest way of defining the project.

I had a couple of ideas for my project – a study on the Book of Revelation, a youth ministry intern, etc. – but my heart settled on this worship service I had heard about. It was called a Blue Christmas or Longest Night Service.

A Blue Christmas Service or Longest Night Service typically takes place on the first day of winter – the longest night of the year – and recognizes how many of us struggle during the Christmas season. The service is intended to offer hope and expressions of peace in the midst of our struggles. Continue reading “What is a Service of Hope?”

Christmas Eve Message: Ordinary Day and Extraordinary Hope

It was just an ordinary day in the City of Bethlehem.

The population, in those days, was around 1,000 people. That is a little more than double the latest Census estimate for Salvisa. All of those 1,000 people and more were gathered in Bethlehem on that day. The people were under the authority of the Roman Empire, which had no problem throwing its weight around. On that particular day, the people under Rome’s authority were required to return to their hometown in order to be counted. This was an ordinary occurrence for the people in Bethlehem, because Rome made it a habit of doing things to reminded people of their authority and power.

It was also an ordinary day for those outside of Bethlehem. Residing around the hillsides outside of Bethlehem were a group of shepherds. The shepherds were doing their job. They were keeping watch of their sheep to make sure they stayed safe from intruders. Shepherds were not the most beloved group of people. Some tolerated them as those who performed a needed task in society, but the people had little use for them. Others viewed them as thieves, because they would do what was needed in order to survive even if it meant taking from others. On that day they were just trying to live and survive. Continue reading “Christmas Eve Message: Ordinary Day and Extraordinary Hope”

A Reason to Rejoice

It stands out a little bit, does it not? The pink candle that is. It brightly burns as it is encircled by the Advent wreath’s three purple candles.

On this third Sunday of Advent, it is not just that solitary pink candle that stands out. The message it represents also stands out. It represents joy. A sense of happiness that can be unlike many of the emotions of experiences that we tend to focus upon. Continue reading “A Reason to Rejoice”

A Hope That Never Fades

Today marks the beginning of the Advent season and the beginning of a new Christian year. For four weeks we will look ahead with anticipation to both the celebration of the birth of Christ and the Lord’s eventual return. It is a season of excitement, of busyness, and of magnificent colors and decorations. It is a season of hope.

That word, hope, is among the key words of Advent. It is one that we need today. Hope is something that seems to be absent in our lives and in our world this season. We approach this start to the Advent season wondering if hope exist today or may be felt in a world of tears, brokenness, and death. Continue reading “A Hope That Never Fades”

Dressed for The Wedding Feast

At the beginning of the football season, the University of Kentucky’s Athletics Department sent out a notice about the biggest game of the year. Strangely, no one responded to the department’s announcement. Not a single ticket was sold for the game. The Athletics Department wasn’t too worried. They figured that once the big game arrived that it would be a sell out.

A week before the game the Athletics Department sent out another round of advertisements for the upcoming big game. This time they focused on the players, what would happen if Kentucky won, and how amazing a fan would have if they attended the game. Again, no one bought a ticket. Not a single ticket was sold for the game. Everyone responded back that they had better things to do. Some said they wanted to go to Simpsonville to the new outlet mall. Some preferred to stay home and watch another game. Some others were upset basketball tickets were not sale. Continue reading “Dressed for The Wedding Feast”