Advent is the season of preparing for the birth of Christ, and for the last few years, Los Altos UMC has used a pre-Advent worship series in November to “prepare to prepare.” The commercial holiday season comes upon us so quickly, by December 1 it seems Christmas is already here! By “preparing to prepare” in November, we set ourselves up in a better frame of mind for an intentional Advent season of true preparation.
This November, our worship series has the theme “Told You So: Preparing for the Coming of the Christ.” The book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies that point to the coming of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. In a sense, these prophecies were the Hebrews of the time “preparing to prepare” for Christ’s coming. As we prepare for our annual celebration of Christmas, how do these prophecies speak to our culture, our community, and our context today? We know what we are preparing for, or think we know. How do these prophecies help us really know what to prepare for?
November 6: God With Us. The scripture for this week is Isaiah 7:14, one of the sections that is used in the New Testament to claim Jesus as the anointed one the people were waiting and hoping for. As we prepare once again to prepare our hearts to make room for Jesus, we turn our attention back to the realization that in Jesus, God is with us. Maybe we have forgotten that. Maybe we’ve just been too busy to notice that. Maybe things have happened that make it difficult to believe that. God’s promise to the people of Isaiah’s time is still God’s promise to us today: God is with us, and we know that through the incredible gift that we are preparing for, the gift of Jesus Christ. Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will preach at the morning services and Pastor Dirk Damonte at the evening service. Holy Communion will be offered at all services.
November 13: Wonderful, Mighty, Everlasting. Isaiah 9:6 is another section of Isaiah that is viewed through New Testament eyes as pointing to the birth of Jesus the Messiah. (It is hard to read this passage without hearing the music of Handel’s Messiah echoing in our hearts!) What is amazing about this passage is these descriptions of the one God is sending: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This one whom God sends, this Jesus, is all these things and so much more! As we prepare our hearts to realize the depth and scope of this gift from God, we see that this Messiah is a Messiah for all time, and we can put all of our trust in him. Have we done that? Have we gotten away from that? Do we doubt that? In our preparing to prepare, we reflect on the ways that God’s love lives in these attributes of Jesus. We can put all of our trust in him! Pastor Mariellen will give the message at the morning services and Pastor Debbie Weatherspoon at the evening service.
November 20: The Spirit Is Upon Us. Luke 4:16-21 tells us that Jesus himself quoted Isaiah 61:1-2, and concluded by saying “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled.” Preparing to prepare for Jesus to (re)enter our hearts and lives means recognizing that this good news, healing, justice and release comes through Jesus. John Wesley liked to go further than these two verses and point out that Isaiah goes on to include more categories of the marginalized that God’s Spirit is reaching out to. John Wesley considered this a mandate for all of Jesus’ followers. As we prepare to prepare, we are being called into deeper relationship with God’s creation through Jesus Christ. Pastor Mariellen will preach at the morning services and Pastor Dirk at the evening service.