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Preparing the Way

We are now in the Advent season - a season of preparation before Christmas. Before the first advent of Christ, God the Father sent a man named John to prepare the way. We know that man as John the Baptist. To prepare the way for the Savior the ministry of John had to be well focused. That focus was threefold.

First, John’s focus was on human need. In many ways modern man has redefined human need. The primary focus is on the economic, social, psychological, and physical needs of humanity. These are indeed areas of need, but they are not our real need. It is our real need that creates all of these other conditions. Because of sin in our hearts we are separated from God, the only source of good. That breech impacts negatively everything else in our lives.

John the Baptist, like a skillful doctor, treated the disease, not merely the symptoms of the disease. How many of us would go to a doctor who only gave us drugs for our symptoms, while we were dying from some fatal disease. None of us would knowingly do so.

John’s message spoke to the human disease of sin. His was a message of repentance. As St. Luke put it, “...he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (St. Luke 3:3) That message is as needed today as it was two thousand years ago.

Secondly, John the Baptist focused on the truth. God’s revealed Word, the Holy Scriptures, is the Truth. We need to believe whole heartedly without reservation in the truth and authority of the Bible. The deplorable condition in many of the mainline churches today is the result of the loss of God’s Word.

John’s actions and preaching were based on God’s unchanging Word and Truth. He boldly denounced King Herod for violating the 7th Commandment. Many today would consider John a bigot, a legalist, a narrow-minded fanatic. For his efforts John was thrown into prison and eventually murdered by Herod. It takes courage to speak the truth.

People may not always like it, but they need the truth. God’s truth is a blazing light. “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.” (St. John 3:19-21) People will respond to the truth, some negatively, but others positively. It is our job to speak the truth.

Thirdly, John the Baptist’s focus was on Christ. When John began to preach, a few months before Christ opened His public ministry, some people thought that he might be the Messiah. John quickly corrected their misapprehension.

The purpose of ministry is not to attract people to the minister or even to the church. Our purpose is not to make ourselves popular. That is the world’s way - the way of the personality cult.

John’s goal was to attract men and women to Jesus Christ. Christ is the answer and the only answer to humanity’s need. He is the Savior and it is through faith in Him that we are healed. As John saw it, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (St. John 3:30)

As Christians and as the Church we like John the Baptist are to be preparers of the way. If we are to be successful in our mission we need a focused ministry like that of John, whose focus was on human need, the truth, and Jesus Christ.

by Rev. F.M. Levi


Parish News

The Woman’s Guild had a very successful Spaghetti Dinner on Oct. 23, 1999. Thank you to all who attended or helped in any way. The money raised will be used for missions and other projects.

Oct. 31, 1999 was a very special day for the parish. It was Homecoming, Reformation Sunday, and Bishop Royal U. Grote was with us for his annual episcopal visit. During the service Bishop Grote confirmed three young ladies; Caroline Robertson, Anne Horn & Elizabeth Parham Horn. Following the service everyone enjoyed a catered luncheon provided by the Vestry and had a wonderful time of fellowship.

Condolences

Riley D. Fleischman, Poway, CA, husband of Diane (Stadlin) Anderson-Fleischman, passed away on Sunday, November 7, 1999.

Domestic Missions

Please pray for the Rev. and Mrs. Gary McGinnis (Debbie), and their children Benjamin, Seth, Samuel, Caleb, and Jacob, and our brethren. Christ Reformed Episcopal Mission in Bothell, WA.

Happy Birthday!

Dec. 11 - Loretta Sellers
Dec. 14 - Elizabeth Horn
Dec. 16 - Barney Reagan
Dec. 20 - Leah Zoe Andricopulos

NOTICE

If you have announcements you would like placed in the Parish Register please send them to the church office at least 30 days in advance. The deadline for the Parish Register is the 10th of each month.

Founders’ Day

December 2, 1873. The founding of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

Woman’s Guild

There will be a Bake Sale on Sunday, December 12, 1999 during coffee hour.

Christmas Play

Sunday, December 12, 1999 at 1:00 p.m.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

This beautiful tradition continues at St. Andrew’s-Cheney Memorial Church. For many years the Parish has joined together in a candlelight service of carols, prayers, and praise, to usher in Christmas. We know that you will want to be with us at 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, as we remember the child who was born to be our Savior. Light refreshments will be served after the service in the Parish Hall. We look forward to seeing you.

The Mystery Of Christmas

by Marion Schoeberlein

Never a season so full of cheer,
No matter where we go,
Tinkling silver in the bells,
Lost carols in the snow.
But most of all the Christmas love
That shines in faces show,
That Christ has come again to earth
To give each heart its glow.

Never a time so beautiful,
For children, you and me -
When every house is a warm home
That trims a tinseled tree,
And Christ returns to everyone
Reliving poetry -
Explaining once again to us
The Christmas mystery!


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