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The Joy of Christmas

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It is easy for believers to become disheartened by the events unfolding in our world. The stories we read in the news and the trends of popular culture continually reveal the brokenness of humanity. Lately, I have felt weighed down and discouraged by what I have seen transpiring in the world; it seems as though each time we turn on the television or check the news online, we are bombarded with the sense that something is very wrong. An economic downturn, an environment in danger, shootings in schools and churches, protests in the streets, and threats to religious freedom. How do we remain joyful in spite of all the darkness we are surrounded by? 

Jesus was born into a world very much like our own. The Roman Empire held much of the world, including the people of Israel, in its powerful grip. Living under the rule of a pagan empire, the Jews were oppressed and longed for the promised Messiah. The Gospel of Matthew recounts the words of Isaiah, written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which translated means ‘God with us.’” These words foretold the coming incarnation; the act of the Creator coming to live and die, among the created.

The reality of the incarnation should not simply be commemorated each year like some other historical event that slowly fades into obscurity over time. The incarnation is continuously significant for all Christ-followers, at all times. It is precisely what sets Christianity apart from other worldviews; that God voluntarily lowered Himself in order to graciously initiate a relationship with broken humanity. The incarnation is the source of joy for believers in a dark world; it is a reminder that God has not left us alone. This Christmas season, will you find your joy in the child that was born for you? There are many opportunities this Christmas to adore Him and to celebrate together as a Church family. I hope you will join us for The Joy of Christmas on December 17th, and again on Christmas Eve.

Posted by Gatlin Saip

Worship

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I began playing the bass guitar on the worship team at my church when I was 12 years old. At that time, I could barely struggle through the songs, desperately hunting for each note, and often making mistakes. When a song was finished, if I hadn’t made too many obvious mistakes, I would feel relieved, as though I had survived the ordeal. I would often pray that God would help me make it through the song and that nobody in the church or youth group would be too distracted by my lack of skill. 

As I grew, I began to make fewer mistakes, and I became more confident in my abilities as my proficiency increased. I finally had enough confidence to try playing piano or guitar some weeks at youth group, and over time, I began to feel comfortable leading the band and singing. Unfortunately, as my confidence increased, those prayers for God to help me make it through each song decreased.

We love to rely on our own skills and abilities, rather than trust in God’s strength. This is true of worship leaders, as well as anyone else in Church ministry. Sadly, as we build more trust and confidence in ourselves as musicians and worship leaders, we can drift from our true purpose: to bring glory to God through the songs and praises of His people. Recently, I have felt more like I did in those early years, when I struggled through each song, trying hard not to make mistakes, and hoping my weaknesses would not be a distraction. I have found myself back in that place of dependence—praying for God’s help when I have felt insufficient—and being forced to trust Him. 

Scripture is replete with examples demonstrating that worshipping God comes at a cost. Worship is not a passive experience, as though we should come to church each week and consume a product that pleases us. Rather, worshipping is something we choose to do based on our love for God and our gratitude for who He is. The church’s worship is rooted in the pews, not on the platform. Though we who lead are to do so with strength and confidence, we are also to do so with great humility and reverence for the task. All that we do as worship leaders is facilitate and maximize the praises of God’s people. Perhaps the trepidation I felt in those early years—and that I have felt recently—has been a reminder to trust Him, and not myself. Who are you trusting today?

Posted by Gatlin Saip

Alpha

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Last Sunday, Pastor Paul encouraged us to go out into the community and invite people to "taste and see that the LORD is good." As a church family, we'd love to engage in this together as we run the Alpha program here at SDBC in January. Alpha is a program to which you can invite all your friends and neighbours because it seeks to build a safe environment in which people can find community and an opportunity to explore big questions about life. This is a great opportunity for people to talk about God over a meal in a comfortable setting.

On December 17th, we're hoping to see many people from our community join us for our special Christmas program, and we expect to have many people join us for our annual Christmas Eve service as well. On both of these occasions, we intend to invite our community back to Alpha to learn more about Jesus. This is why we're starting the Alpha program on January 14th. This program will run for nine weeks on Sundays from 4-6PM. 

Please prayerfully invite your colleagues, friends, and neighbours to Alpha. We still need more people to serve. If you're interested in serving, please sign up HERE. If you sign up as a leader, you will be provided training prior to the program. We look forward to introducing people to Jesus through Alpha! 

Posted by Paul Park

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