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The Blog of Christ Church Albuquerque

The blog of Christ Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Why Advent?

Nathan Sherman

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At Christ Church in 2017, we'd like to be a bit more intentional than we were last year about preparing for and building expectation toward Christmas Day. Throughout the centuries, one way the Church has done this is observing the Advent Season. Perhaps you've never thought about Advent as something as beneficial. You're certainly not alone. Timothy Paul Jones writes:

Advent has fallen on hard times. In the Protestant and free-church traditions, the loss is somewhat understandable; we Baptists in particular tend to be suspicious of anything with origins in ancient or medieval tradition. Yet even in congregations that closely follow the rhythms of the church year, the meaning of Advent seems in danger of being misplaced. By the closing week of November, any sense of waiting has been eclipsed by the nativity scene in the lobby, the tannenbaum in the hall, and the list of Christmas parties in the newsletter.

But why has Advent fallen on hard times?

Perhaps because Christmas is about celebration, and celebrations can be leveraged to move products off shelves. Advent is about waiting, and waiting contributes little to the gross domestic product.

In a religious milieu that has fixated itself on using Jesus to provide seekers with their most convenient lives here and now, Advent is a particularly awkward intrusion. Advent links our hearts with those of ancient prophets who pined for a long-promised Messiah but passed long before his arrival.

In the process, Advent reminds us that we, too, are waiting.

So the building expectation of Advent brings slowness and sobriety to an often frantic holiday season, and it forces us to patiently wait, which something that we rarely must do as 21st Century Americans. And Lord willing, as our awareness for the first coming of Christ is heightened, our longing and expectation for his second advent will increase as well.

In the coming the four Sundays of Advent, we plan to preach through a text that highlights one of the four traditional Advent themes of hope, peace, joy, and love

This Sunday, we'll be handing out copies of Tim Chester's The One True Light which fitting with our current preaching series, is a daily Advent devotional through the Gospel of John.

Additionally, if you're looking for something more to do with children, Marty Machowski's Prepare Him Room is an excellent resource for families. And if you already own The Jesus Storybook Bible (this is an incredible secret!), Sally Lloyd-Jones has included 21 stories from the Old Testament followed by three stories of Jesus' birth making for an excellent 24-day family devotional. 

A month from now, might the Lord stir in us—as individuals and together as a church—a more hopeful and expectant prayer of O come, O come Emmanuel. 

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

NEW SERIES: LITURGY

Nathan Sherman

The steady diet of preaching at Christ Church will always be expositional preaching through books of the Bible. What a sweet time we've had these past three months in the book of Philippians! Over the next seven weeks, we will be focusing on the form and function of the liturgy (order of worship) at Christ Church. Why start with a Call to Worship? How does our corporate confession of sin lead us to the gospel? Why practice Communion every week?

ACHI PASTORS TRAINING

Nathan Sherman

Those who are new to Christ Church can read more about the history of the Rabinal Achi Partnership that we as a church inherited from our mother church Desert Springs Church (DSC). Along side two staff and two elders from Iglesia Reforma in Guatemala City and two ministers from DSC, we are working to train 65 pastors and leaders how to study, understand, and preach from the book of Habakkuk. (links from weekly email titled "Greetings from Achi land")

"What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." - Paul (2 Tim 2:2)

"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." Luke 24:27

Bible Reading Plan for Elementary Kids

Nathan Sherman

One of the things that has given me the most joy as a parent is to have my 1st and 2nd Grade sons show a desire to read God's Word at their own initiative. My prayer is that their growing appetite for the Bible is a small spark that God will one day ignite into the fire of their salvation. While I'm so thankful for the abundance of Jesus-centered children's Bibles that have been published in the past several years--my kids are learning better biblical theology than I did until I got to seminary--children's Bibles are no substitute for the real thing, so I want to encourage them in their reading.

They've recently been asking what they should read, so I pointed them to the gospels. They love reading about Jesus--his life, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection--but they are now asking if they can just start at Genesis and read the entire thing.

My first inclination is to respond, "Yes! Go start at Genesis 1 and soak it up!" But then I hesitate for two reasons:

  1. DENSITY

    I remember setting out to read the entire Bible when I was in the 3rd Grade, and I made it to somewhere around the middle of Exodus. That was the end of that. Now, I realize that, as adults, many of us have done the same thing--we make it to the giving of the Law, we either get bored or confused, and then we quit. To adults, I'd say, "Persevere! Our God doesn't waste words, and you can't understand the fullness of the answers in the New Testament unless you first understand the depth of the questions in the Old Testament."

    But to a six-year-old? "Buddy, I get it. At this point in your life, your imagination is captivated by narrative, not logic. I want you to begin to understand the grandeur of the biblical storyline now as a six-year-old, so that by the time you're a teenager you will love Leviticus and Ezekiel."
     
  2. CONTENT

    I'll admit it. When one of my sons said that he wanted to start reading Genesis, the first thing I thought of wasn't that he would learn of the unrivaled glory of God who is creator and sustainer of His people and the cosmos. It was Sodom and Gomorrah. And Lot and his daughters. And Judah and Tamar.

    While we've begun to have very rudimentary conversations about the differences between boys and girls and how God has created them distinctly different to complement each other to the glory of God, we haven't yet had the talk (that will likely come at some point this year with our oldest). The reality is that much of the Bible is Rated R, while my kids have barely seen any movies above PG. Again, we won't appreciate the Light of Christ unless we first understand the deep darkness of the world which He came to save, and I look forward to walking through these difficult passages as well as the accompanying theological and philosophical difficulties that come with the reality of terrible evil. But not quite yet. 

So because of these reasons, I googled "Bible reading plan for kids", but I couldn't find quite what I was looking for. Everything I found either cost money, was a kid-friendly paraphrase of the Bible, or short and book-specific ("Read John over the summer"). So I just decided to make one for my kids. 

I've tried to include the essential Old Testament narrative from Genesis to Kings, as well as Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, three Gospel accounts, several shorter New Testament epistles, and the last four chapters of Revelation.

I also used the structure from the excellent Five Day Reading Plan which I was introduced to last year by Melissa Kruger. I personally used this plan in 2016 and plan to use again next year. 

If your kids end up using this structure, I hope that it helps to develop a life-long love for the Scriptures as well as cultivating more frequent conversations around the house about God's saving work through Christ and the effects in all of our lives. 

Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria! 

Click the picture to download:

FIRST BAPTISM SERVICE! 11/20/16

Nathan Sherman

Caleb Wiseman, Anna Avery, Julia Avery, Tom Avery, and Kiley Sanchez all took the plunge into the water of baptisms this past Sunday. They professed to the world and their local church that they have indeed seen their sin for what it is, turned from it and trusted in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection to save their souls and restore their friendship with God forever. Upon their baptism they also officially joined Christ Church as covenant members. For information on Christ Church membership click here

Caleb Wiseman

Anna Avery

Julia Avery

Tom Avery

Kiley Sanchez

A NEW CHURCH IS BORN 11/6/16

Nathan Sherman

Over 100 visitors joined the 93 Christ Church members for our official public launch on November 6th. There were food trucks, jump house, lots of smiles, and most importantly, God's word preached, prayed, sang and pondered. Join us as we seek to spread God's glory broader and deeper by making disciples of friends, family, neighbors, and the nations through worship, community, and mission!