Dec 17

A lovely time in Stevensville, MT

On December 9th I had the pleasure of filling the pulpit for Rev. Nancy Slabaugh Hart at Stevensville United Methodist Church. Both the building and the people were grand, and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

It seemed more than fitting that the Advent candle lighting liturgy focused on children. Here it is, so you can enjoy it, too:

The Children’s Candle

Reader #1: The hopes and dreams of old were placed upon the shoulders of the children to come. Thepromises of God to Abraham and Sarah were fulfilled through the birth of their son Isaac. In the years of wandering and exile, faith kept their people alive, a faith taught to their children. In these days of Advent, we reflect on the promises we make to the children of our community and the ways we live in God’s peace.

Reader #2: We light this candle for the children that have carried on the faith in years past, and for the children of today, who are part of our church now and the future, who live out the faith and walk the ways of the Prince of Peace.

(light the second purple candle)

Prayer: God of all children, help us to live out your hopes and dreams in this world, to live in the way of Your Shalom. In this time of Advent, help us to prepare for Christ’s coming into our lives in a new way. Amen.

Indeed, the hope carried in the heart of a child is one of the great messages of this Christmas season. Soon, it was my time to pray for the congregation and to share a message from Intermountain about the work we are doing and how it connects to the work of the church. [ A copy of this sermon can be found on our resource page on the blog: www.intermountainministry.org/resources ] As we were into the second Sunday of Advent, the passage read for the sermon time was from Luke 1:76-79:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Both in the service and in the coffee fellowship that followed, there was great interest in the on-going work of the church’s ministry as expressed through the chaplain’s ministry here on campus. Half a dozen families signed up to be on the mailing list and stay in regular contact with Intermountain, and I walked away with a wonderful jar of homemade cherry preserves! A special thank you goes to Bob Edgar, the more than able liturgist, and Carol in the office for making sure things went so smoothly for our time together. And, of course, I would like to thank Pastor Nancy for extending the invitation to come and share, and the honor of preaching in her stead for that Sunday.

Chaplain Chris Haughee