Nov 30 - Dec 21 Advent

The Great “O” Antiphons
The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. 

The Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.

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O Sapientia (O Wisdom):

Prayer: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” 

  • “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (Is. 11:2-3)
  • “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (Is. 28:29). 
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O Adonai (O Lord): 
Prayer: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” 
  • “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (Is. 11:4-5)
  • “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (Is. 33:22). 
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O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse): 
Prayer: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” 
  • But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (Is. 11:1)
  • On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (Is. 11:10)
  • Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1). 
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O Clavis David (O Key of David): 
Prayer: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” 
  • I will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (Is. 22:22)
  • “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (Is. 9:6). 
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O Oriens (O Dayspring): 
Prayer: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” 
  • “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1). 

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O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations): 
Prayer: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” 
  • “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5)
  • “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4)
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O Emmanuel (O Emmanuel): 
Prayer: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” 
  • “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” (7:14) 


Nov 23 - Christ the King Sunday

  • Christ the King - worship images based around "Worthy is the Lamb" 
    • "Revelation Song" 
    • Worthy is the Lamb 
    • Liturgical images 
    • Christ the Victor 
    • Christ the King 


Nov 09 - Stewardship - Giving Styles

Share Research on Generosity: Who we are, how God has made us.

Three different ways of thinking about giving.  Try to recognize yourself in one of them or in a combination of them.  

Because God made us, these different ways of experiencing generosity are not right or wrong, better or worse.  But because we are sinful people, each one of these needs renewal.

Today, I am going to share some research.  You are going to try and recognize your own giving tendencies and then we will ask God to renew our minds.  The end result is a more joyful response to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.  

Who We Are: Family-Providers (40% +) {Image on Screen: Family Dinner}

Basics: First responsibility: provide for my family (see picture in bulletin)
Provide for the family, if anything is left over, then give.  Caution about how we give.

The Good: God uses us to provide for our families.  We should feel responsible for taking care of the special people in our lives, kids, grandkids, parents.  

It can also good to give carefully and thoughtfully; we are supposed to consider the cost.

The Bad:  Viewing myself as a Family Provider can foster the attitude that I earn everything I have, that I deserve what I get, I provide for my family.  Takes God out of the equation.  Can be self-centered and even self-righteous. 

The Ugly: Caution is good, but hiding behind caution, or using caution as an excuse can easily be an expression of fear, fear we won’t have enough to provide.

What Jesus does: So for family providers, one of the biggest obstacles to joyful giving is fear of not being able to provide everything we think our family needs or deserves.  In the face of that fear, Jesus brings us to our Providing Father [Reading son Screen]

32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  (Romans 8:32)

31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or
‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  
32For the pagans run after all these things, and
 your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 
 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

Renewing Our Minds: Taking Care of Our Family

New relationship with our Father = new way of thinking about giving (renewing minds) 

Because Jesus brings us back to our heavenly Father, we now belong to the same family.  Because of Jesus, the God of all creation loves us and takes care of our needs.  We then become free to be used by Him to take care of our family, both those to whom we are related by blood, and those to whom we are related by Jesus’ blood.

[Reading on Screen]
9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:9-10)

For family-first givers, joy will increase as we come to see this place as our faith home 
and these people as our faith family.  It is our duty, our privilege, our joy to take care of the family of believers.

[Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father”  / Prayers, because we are Family]

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Who We Are: Burden Sharers (30%+) {Image on Screen: Moving a Couch or piano}
Basics: Do my fair share; carry my part of the load  (see piano movers)
Burden sharers also enjoy Giving to Specific Ministries, they like to see their gifts in action

The Good: We want to be part of a team.  We want to feel like we are not alone.  We want to know that our financial gifts are being used wisely and making an impact.

The Bad:  giving can become centered on me, my agenda, what I want 
money can become an instrument of power, how I get my way

The Ugly: division, we vs. they mentality, 
Even withholding gifts in order to punish others, not what God intends

Family-first givers face the fear of not being able to provide for their families.  Jesus overcomes our needs and our fears by bringing us back to God the Father, who provides for us.

But Burden Sharers aren’t concerned with providing as much as making sure other people are also carrying their own load.  If it feels like we’re hauling this couch all by ourselves, we’re going to let it drop.  Or worse, if someone else carrying the couch offends us in any way, we see that as a reason to take our offerings and go home.  

For burden sharers, the greatest obstacle to joyful giving isn’t fear, it’s division.  Broken relationships, a lack of trust, not feeling like part of the team, a desire to control what happens in the church, these take the joy of generosity away from fair-share givers. 
So Burden Sharers need to hear that Jesus overcomes our divisions and our pride by giving us the Holy Spirit who makes us one.

What Jesus does: Jesus Gives us the Spirit who binds us together

[Reading on Screen]
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.  
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. . . 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.   (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 20)

What if those guys hauling the couch were fingers of the same hand?  It wouldn’t make sense for one of them to say, I’m tired of being the pinky, 

Renewing Our Minds: The Body of Christ Giving God Glory
New Way of thinking about working together: unity within diversity, all doing their part.

No one part is more important than the others, no one part can do it on their own.  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we are all on the same side, even when we disagree.  We are the body of Christ: Jesus uses us to impact that people around us.

For Fair-share givers, joy will increase as we begin to understand “fair” in relationship to what God has given us as opposed to what others give.  We will also find great joy in discovering all of the different ways our gifts support the ministry of the Gospel.

As Burden Sharers, you want to know your gifts are supporting a ministry that impacts lives.  And that’s a good thing. I can’t tell you every way your giving translates into impacting ministry, but I can tell you about some of the amazing things God is doing in and through the people of St. Luke.

Example #1 of impact

You want to know if your offering impacts people?  Did you know … Example 2 of impact. 

… a portion of everything you put in the offering plate also goes to make these impact events possible.

I’ve seen this … Example #3.  Does your money go to ministries that impact real people?  I have seen it with my own eyes.

[Some concrete numbers about our worship and Bible study attendance go here.] I’ve heard the word preached, and received Jesus in bread and wine, and, by the way, the lights were on and the carpet was clean and the air conditioning running—all of that takes money, money we do not have except from what you give freely from your heart.

You’ve seen it on Sunday mornings, but I’ve also seen it during the week. [description of midweek things like MOPS and Wed nights, etc. goes here]

I’ve seen it again and again and again.  The St. Luke staff and elected leaders are not perfect, and they may not make every decision the same way you would.  But I can bear witness, this place touches the lives of people day in and day out.  

as further examples of ways we are making an impact.

With our Father God providing for us, with the Holy Spirit binding us together in love, we give so that the ministry of the Gospel might go forth also from this place.  The Spirit unites us so that God might be glorified in our lives, in our homes, in our church, in our world.

Hymn/Song of the Day

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Who We Are: Firstfruits Giving (>30%) {Image on Screen: First ripe tomato}

Basics: Firstfruits giving, a percentage off the top, God is taking care of us, automatic. 
Picture of tomato.

The Good: automatic can mean faithful; first fruits can be an expression of trust
The Bad: automatic can be mindless, thoughtless, heartless.  Giving can get stale, routine
The Ugly: offering becomes a budget line item instead of an expression of trust

What Jesus Does: Jesus brings us Salvation
Jesus overcomes our fears by bringing us to the Father, who provides for us.
Jesus overcomes our divisions by sending us the Spirit, who makes us one.
Jesus overcomes hard hearts and stale worship by giving us Himself.

God knows it is our natural tendency to let offerings become automatic and heartless.  So he grounds our giving to His act of salvation.

[Reading on Screen]
4The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. 5Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to hard labor. 7Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. 9He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that You, O Lord, have given me.” (Deuteronomy 26:4-10)

Our giving is based in God’s saving activity in our lives.

Our worship and our trust is centered on who Jesus is and what He did for us.  No matter what approach to giving seems most natural to us, the foundation of all of our giving is the gift of God in Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to take away our sin and bring us into an eternal loving relationship with our heavenly Father.  

Foundation of it all: relationship established by grace, through faith, for Christ’s sake
The power to renew our minds.

Renewing Our Minds: Restoring the Joy of Our Salvation

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1-2)