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Steve Mickel: Mighty God, Isaiah 9:1-2,6-7

November 28, 2022

Audio Recording

The people of God were waiting for deliverance through a Mighty God, a heroic God that would come with swords blazing. Instead he shows up in the smallness of a baby. How do we reconcile what we think a Mighty God should be with how he actually displays his mightiness and brings hope to the world.

Advent
Advent
Steve Mickel: Mighty God, Isaiah 9:1-2,6-7
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:06 Well, today we begin a year, focusing on the major seasons of the Christian faith. Actually, it's gonna be a year long kind of, tour or through, more of a liturgical. We're not liturgical here at Westside, but we thought it would be really, unique for us to kind of follow the Christian calendar. And so in the Christian calendar, today is the first day of the Christian New Year. So happy New Year. Say, say to somebody next to you, happy New Year. This is the first, this is the first Sunday of the new year. I mean, forget that January 1st thing, passe. This is the new one. so we're gonna be focusing, this year on the different Christian seasons. Advent lent Easter Pentecost, and I'm really excited about it because they all focus in on Jesus. Jesus is the center of all of that.

00:53 and as is advent and advent launches today, and it means arrival. The word advent means arrival. And it's the anticipation of the coming of Jesus, obviously in the flesh, as he was born into this world. But also, his second coming when he returns. It's, it's, it's both. It's kind of, we hold these two things, intention a little bit. Like we, we celebrate his coming, but we also anticipate his return. And, and it's an opportunity. Advent is an opportunity to remind ourselves why Jesus came, how he came, and the way that he wants us to enter into our world in much the same way that he did. But how many of you know, it's a little easier these days to tap out rather than enter in to retreat, to go to, to, to kind of like, I'm good. I don't wanna this world, this world. I don't wanna engage. I don't, I, okay. Have you, have any of you unfriended or unfollowed people in the last two, three years? Maybe. I hope none of us did this, but it's possible that maybe grandma and grandpa didn't get invited to Thanksgiving dinner because of their political views.

02:04 It's messy. And we want, and, and the temptation in our world is doing this all across generations and political ideologies. It's not just one group doing it, it's all our culture is, is is is moving away from one another. There we're, we're distancing ourselves from the mess of what relationships really look like and, and what they're like and what they are. And I try to remind myself in these moments that Jesus came into our messiness and he didn't have to. He could have stayed sheltered away from this crazy world that we live in, but he chose a holy God chose to take on our flesh, our relationships, our problems, our temptations, our trouble, and enter into this space with us to be with us. That's why what Jesus did, that's is so overwhelming, it's so mighty. He came into it and he didn't have to, and he's with us in it.

03:09 And so Christ coming creates this season of advent and invites us to enter into our world with a fresh perspective of who Jesus is, why he came, and how he wants us to enter into our world as well. So, Jesus, would you be with us as we open your word guide and direct us? Help us to hear your voice, holy Spirit, and to follow after your ways. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. If you have a Bible, we're gonna spend most of our time today in the Old Testament in Isaiah chapter eight and nine. And, there's a rumor out there that we don't preach from the Old Testament. Now, that's not why I'm doing it today, but I am a little tired of that rumor started years ago, and I was just like, what the heck? Anyway, we preach from it. just not that often, but we do preach from it.

03:56 We do. So Isaiah chapter eight, I love Isaiah, the book of Isaiah, the prophet. He's a prophet, and he, is one of the key, prophets who talk about the coming of the Messiah. Jesus Christ. There's many prophecies that he, is credited for that helps us to advent. It helps us to anticipate the coming of the Messiah Christ, the one who would restore God's kingdom to earth. And so over the next four weeks, we're going to, examine a prophecy of Isaiah's in Isaiah nine versus six and seven. But before we get there, I thought it would be important to set the backdrop a little bit of like what was happening, in Israel and in that region prior to and during the, this prophecy that was, that Isaiah shared because it had application as most prophecies do in the Old Testament.

04:48 They had application to the moment, but they also had application to the future. And so in Isaiah chapter eight, verse one, it says, Isaiah writes, and the Lord said to me, make a large sign board and clearly write this name on it. Maha Shala, Baz , super funny translation, a swift to plunder and quick to carry away, really positive message. Isaiah, well done. But God tells him to do this, to write, put up on a sign. God told the prophets in to do weird things sometimes, but he, so, so I can imagine Isaiah walking around with this sign, you know, swift, swift to plunder, I mean, quick to carry away does stop there. I'm not gonna read this part, but he, he, he has a child and God wants him to name his child, Maha Shaba. I mean, that's a little, that's over the top.

05:42 but the point is, is that what was happening in the context of when Isaiah wrote this prophecy is that as Syria, was about to attack Israel, and they were going to be plundered and carried away. And so Isaiah is prophesying this. And so this, it's, it's this doom and gloom kind of message. It's like, this is, it's, it's bad today, by the way. It's gonna get worse tomorrow, kind of feel to it. And it doesn't sound really all that different than today. Just turn on any station and you'll start to hear the doom and gloom and the everything's falling apart. And if you don't elect soandso, it's gonna be worse. But if you do elect so and so, it's gonna be better. And like they're full of it. It's not true. It's, it's this doom and gloom is trying to breed fear, because fear makes money. And, and so there's all this, this fear and anxiety in our society today. And so this is, and this hap it was happening here. They are afraid the people of Israel are afraid because of this prop, because of what's to come, because they're not, they're uncertain about the future. And it's in this context that the, these next kind of words mean something more impacting. Verse 11, the Lord has given me a strong warning in this context, doom and gloom, all that, not to think like everyone else.

07:08 Don't call everything a conspiracy like they do, and don't live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of heaven's army holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe. And so here we are. I'm thinking, Hmm, I read this and I'm like, oh my gosh, don't think like everyone else. That's exactly what we do. We are the church. Christians in general are thinking like the rest of the world, about the future and about politics and about every, everything about finances, economies, everything we are, we are stuck in this groove. And, and God is coming along and saying, listen, stop it. Stop thinking like everybody else. And then he goes on. I mean, I'm sure this doesn't apply to anybody. Don't call everything a conspiracy. I didn't. I mean, this is crazy.

08:03 It's right here. I mean, and I don't, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna talk about how Christians are more prone to conspiracy theories than other groups. I mean, whatever, , it's true. But, but, but we, we get caught up and we, and we, and we start believing certain things that people say to us that this doesn't say to us, but other people say to us. And we start believing it. And we start getting caught up in this. And then what happens is that exactly what was happening here, don't live in dread. I meet with Christians, obviously, and what I do as a living, I meet with Christians all the time, and I am, I'm not surprised, but I'm shocked, I guess a little bit how much fear Christians have about the future. I hear people say, it's never been this bad before. And I'm thinking,

09:01 What? I mean, I'm gonna mention the Holocaust in just a minute, but I mean, that was pretty bad. Roman imperialism was no picnic. I mean, it is just like we, we, we think that it's horrible today. It's bad. It's gonna, it's gonna be bad. And we get caught up in this, and God is coming along to us, and he's saying, listen, don't think like everyone else, stop it with the conspiracy theories. And don't live in fear. Don't live in fear. Don't live in fear. Don't, don't live in fear. Don't, it's not worth it. Don't live in fear.

09:41 There's nothing to be afraid of. And you're like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Steve, I can make you a list, man. I can make you my own personal list, but I can also make you a list from CNN and Fox News. They all both have their lists of what we should be afraid of. And yet, I think to myself, well, isn't, don't we, isn't fear coming out of a place that we of unbelief, that God is not mighty, that God is not able, and yeah, I, I mean, listen, sometimes life is overwhelming. , I can tell you sometimes life is overwhelming and we don't know how we're gonna make it through, and we're not sure about the future. And, and fear does have a tendency to want to creep in. But in those types of moment, I read, I reminded of what Isaiah says. And in chapter nine, verse one, nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever.

10:41 It will not go on forever. There is an end point to our suffering. There is a, there is a stoppage at some point in your life to your, to your grievances. There is, there is a point where God will come through for you. And it might be in this life, I pray it is, and it might be in the next, but I know that God will come through, and we have to believe this. We have to hold on this. In this day and age, especially, the land of Zelin and Enought will be humbled. EB and Al is northern, kind of the northern Gentile area, Northern Galilee area. it's important to know that in just a moment, but that was the first place that as Syria came through, when they came down into Israel, they came through that land first. So they're gonna be humbled first, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road, that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

11:39 There will be, there's a time coming. There's a, there's a, there's a, there's a season that's about to break forth. Listen, that's what, that's what Isaiah is saying. And the people who walk in darkness will see a great light for those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. This darkness is not forever, but it will take a couple thousand years. , you just like, just gotta say it. I have to mention it. And that, and I'm we'll talk about that. The waiting is the hardest, right? So those tribe, that tribe of Zelin and Nat, they were among the hardest hit by the Assyrians in 7 33, bc. and so this prophecy that Isaiah gives is directly, spoken to them that, Hey, listen, it's that one day you will be restored. You will return. You know, there's this kind of, this, this positivity to a very dark prophecy that that, and, and then, but then as most prophecies in the Old Testament, they apply to that moment, but they apply to the future.

12:44 And so this prophecy is directly linked to, prophecy about Jesus and Matthew. Matter of fact, Matthew, chapter, where is it at Matthew four, Matthew, records this, he kind of echoes this prophecy in chapter four, verse 13. He says, Jesus went first to Nazareth and left there and moved to caper beside the sea galley and the region of Zalin and Naali. And this fulfill what God said through the prophet Isaiah. And he, and he mentions the prophecy about those who sit in darkness will see a great light. And it's like the, the, the New Testament authors knew that this prophecy was for the coming of, of Jesus. And so they're so just make this comparison. So the prophecy of that as Syria will get kicked out eventually, and Jesus will come. And what do they think? Rome will get kicked out eventually.

13:37 And so anytime you think, oh, man, how do these people miss Jesus? ? What's, well, it's not that hard to think like, well, they, they expected Jesus to come in a way that would set up, that he would sit on a throne. That he, that yes, he would establish his kingdom, but he would establish his kingdom in the way that kingdoms were established through violence. And so when he, when they, when they began to see Jesus, his 33 years of life and everything that he did, and I mean, they knew, they knew he's, he's gotta be the guy. He's gotta be the Messiah. But man, he's not, doesn't look the way we thought he would. He doesn't live the way we thought he would live. And, and so we can misinterpret just like the Jewish people did. We can misinterpret Christ coming today and thinking that he is, well, he didn't establish his kingdom that way then, but he wants to now .

14:34 No, he doesn't. It's gonna be the same way that he did it before, which is here it is, verse six, for a child is born to us, a son is given to us, the government will rest on his shoulders and he will be called wonderful counselor. Mighty God, everlasting Father, prince of peace, his government and its peace will never end whose government, his, his government, his government. See, we don't want Jesus sitting in the White House ruling our government, because in our government, we're in charge. We the people. It is, it is, dare I say, incompatible with the kingdom of God, submitting ourselves to his rule to be obedient to his way, not my way. So interesting. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor, David, for all eternity, the passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven's army will make that happen.

15:46 He wants to establish his kingdom here, and he is gonna do it through a child being born, which was in the, in the, in the near Eastern, kind of cultures of that day. It was very common to give prophecies about a child that was to be born, and that child would bring hope, in a, in a very dark time. And so that kind of, it's kind of echoing that, listen, there's a child that's gonna be born and this child is gonna, is gonna produce hope this is coming, will produce hope. We can, we can breathe again. We can believe again. We can hope again, in that God is gonna see us through, he is gonna help us through. And and Isaiah then describes, right? He describes these, this, this, this child with four names. Actually, most scholars think it's just one like a compound name.

16:31 It's just one name. This is who he is, and what he's like and, and, and how we can kind of relate to him. Wonderful Counselor, prince of Peace, all you know, mighty God, everlasting Father. These are, this is a way that we can relate to connect with, with him. But each of these names, they only, they not only give us a clue about who he is, about who Jesus is, but it also, there's some built in tension with, with each of these names that over the, over the series we're gonna talk a little bit about. And today, I wanna just briefly mention as the time we have remaining that he will be called mighty God. Mighty God. That word mighty means heroic. He will be a heroic God. He, and he's not just, he's not a little G God, that he's that word mighty is like it's used to describe the creator of the universe.

17:31 It's the same word used in other passages to describe this. Is, this is God come in the flesh, mighty powerful to save, heroic. while our enemy, Jesus would say this, our enemy comes to still kill and destroy. He is the accuser of Christians. He came, he came to steal, killing, and destroy. Jesus comes to give us what life and life more abundant. And I was thinking about this. I was thinking about like, what? So the devil is trying to get us. He's trying to get us to, through stealing, killing, and destroying. He's trying to get us to do what not put our hope in Jesus as a mighty God. He's trying to cut away at our hope in Him. And then what happens is if we lose hope in God's ability to save us, we lose hope that God will save us in the future.

18:25 So what I do is I take who I believe God to be in the future, soon coming King, the alpha and the Omega, the one who will return and establish his kingdom for all eternity. And the God that came in the flesh and and healed the blind and, and, and spoke, freedom to the captives and, and came and, and and delivered the oppressed and, and, and rose from the dead. Oh yeah, let's not forget that one. He rose from the dead and kicked death in the teeth. And, and I believe in that God, I believe in that God, I have an advent. I am anticipating that, that God will come to me here and now, . Wow. Yeah. No matter what the enemy does to try to distract or destroy my faith, my faith, my hope is in him, in this mighty God who is able to deliver and save today as well as in the future. I just choose to believe that. And you might go, ah, that's naive, Steve. You just gotta look around you. And that's the work of the enemy, trying to keep your eyes on the things that will destroy your faith instead of keeping our eyes on the true and living God who is and was and will be forever true. And living God, I believe in him. But dang, 2000 years to wait. That's a long time.

20:05 Imagine the waiting for the Messiah. I mean, just think about this. Think about the last time you waited for anything, just anything significant or insignificant. Just think about when was the last time you had to wait for anything roundabout maybe coming in, coming to church like these people. Maybe, maybe there was, maybe, maybe there was this parking spot this last Friday and you had to wait just like stupid for coffee, whatever, right? And it's that tension. You start to feel it. I mean, we can't wait a minute. or maybe more seriously, you know, it's waiting in a hospital room, waiting for a diagnosis, an important phone call or an email birth of a child waiting for a good idea for the fulfillment of a dream.

21:01 See, we can believe this about God, both that he came as a child in the flesh to incarnate with us, and that he will return mighty to save. And we can believe in this, but it's in the waiting that that belief is tested. It's in the waiting. That's the place that it's, that it's the hardest to believe sometimes. I've been studying how the Jewish people, waited because they waited with hope. That even through they, they suffered greatly, generation after generation. I mean, not just the Holocaust, but they, they suffered greatly. They never lost hope in God, saving them, in delivering them. Sure. Yeah. Just like all, just like everyone, they have doubts. you just have to read the Psalms to realize that there's Jewish people have doubts, but they never lost hope in God's power to deliver. They never lost faith. They held onto that.

22:02 That was the one thing actually, that they, when everything was taken from them over and over again, they just kind of held on. They believe they, they, they hold onto this faith. And, and even after the Holocaust, Victor Frankel, who is a survived a concentration camp, one of my favorite authors actually, he wrote these words between stimulus and response, there is a space. And in that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. And those choices lie our growth and happiness. It's in this, it's in the what we choose to believe, how we choose to love, how we choose to live, how we choose to interact with our fellow humans. It's all right here in the waiting.

22:54 How do we respond in the, in the waiting. Advent is a celebration of Christ coming, that it's also an anticipation of waiting and hoping that day that Jesus will return and make all things right. So many Christians today from where I sit, don't wait. Well, we think like everyone else in the world, we get caught up in conspiracy theories. We watch the news and allow ourselves to get caught up in fear and anxiety. And we think, and then we start to think of, I don't do something who's going to, and I'm like, God, stop doing what God can only do. He can only restore his kingdom. He can only make his rulership happen. You and I cannot do that. All he asked us to do in the in between time is to love. Like he loved to live like he lived, to serve like he served. That's what he asked us to do, to pray like he prayed. He doesn't need us to make sure he gets his way. He needs us to love his way. There is nothing to fear. Our God is mighty. And I don't know when, but I know God will have his way

24:32 Every day. We wake up an advent waiting between these two arrivals, but also between two victories. Jesus, the mighty one has come to earth to deliver us. And Jesus the mighty one will come again to save us. This is our hope. This is our song. This is how we live in the in between. And how we live in the waiting is important. It really matters because it's in that space. It's in those places that the choices that we make on how we respond to our world, where not only our growth and happiness lie, but also the growth and happiness of the people around us. Pastor Amelia, you got to see her up here hosting us today. And I'm really glad she was hosting today. She, you may not know her story, but Amelia years ago left her family in Chicago and moved to Bend with a friend and ended up at Westside shortly after that move.

25:28 And she has given her life to this church, to this family. It's not just to a, it's not an organization, it's a family. And she gave her life to this. she's poured herself into it. And recently her dad went through a significant health crisis. And, and you can imagine how difficult it was for Melia to be here and her parents all the way in Chicago and, and wanting to be there. And she was there as much as she could be. But, but what happened in their, in her parents' story was that a mighty God happened. He came through, for them. And I thought it would be great to share their story with you on video. Watch this. Speaker 3

26:08 Hi, I'm Jim Rebel Hoffer. Speaker 4

26:10 And I'm Gretchen Rebel Hoffer. We've been married for 38 years and we have been at Rolling Hills for eight Speaker 3

26:17 Last January. We had an incident in our lives that just really shook our world. I play ice hockey. And during the game, I don't really remember any of this because of how it occurred, but my heart stopped and I collapsed. Little did I know that our goalie, I played defense and our goalie is an emt and he jumped right into action. He recognized what had that I had collapsed. the other team had a firefighter and a personal trainer who also came to help. They were able to get the a e d from the rink and shocked my heart and got it started again and did cpr. Speaker 4

26:57 I got a call from the rink and said that he was down and that they were performing CPR on him and that they were going to take him to Vanderbilt. And I got in my car and when I found him there, he was unconscious already. Speaker 3

27:11 I wasn't sure what had happened. I was, just very confused where I was, why I was there, what had happened. Cuz I, it was just so different for me. And, and Gretchen helped so much with, with making me feel back at home and understanding, explaining to me where I was and what was going on. Speaker 4

27:31 I was just amazed how many people had emailed me and, got on the phone from all over the country, people letting me know that they were praying for me. And I was just overwhelmed by that. And, and through it all, it had given me such peace, knowing that we are in the presence of God, and that he was taking care of us, and we are gonna be, okay through it all. Speaker 3

27:55 I look back at it and there's so much in that whole period that I'm thankful for. I'm thankful just that I could play hockey at my age. I was thankful that when I collapsed, that I had equipment on and had no additional physical injuries and thankful that for skilled people, our, our goalie came over and he's working on me and thankful for Gretchen and my family who just ran and ran to support me and surround me. Speaker 4

28:22 I am so grateful for our church family because they surrounded us and just gave me a great sense of who God was. And I really saw that through our church family. Speaker 3

28:34 And now we're, we're thankful for the next chapter in our life. I'll be retiring at the end of the year and Gretchen and I are moving to California to be closer to our grandson. We'd go without any real expectations of what it's gonna be like, but just know that God has a plan for us out there. And I think he brought me through this for a reason, and that he does have a plan for me in California. And, and whatever may happen, just to know that, that God is there with us holding us and loving us so deeply is something that I'll always be thankful in my life.

29:13 Isn't that a great story? You know, I was thinking, yeah, yeah, that's great. And I was thinking, about their story and how some of you today you need, you need a miracle. Like you need your mighty God to come through like a virgin birth kind of miracle. That just that, that, you know, maybe it's a cancer diagnosis, maybe it's a real financial, just devastation. There was just, there's, as you look at it, you're like, oh, I don't know how only a mighty God could actually come into this moment. And I want you to have faith and hope for that. And I also want us to realize, just like Amelia's parents' story, that oftentimes God's mightiness doesn't always just happen in that is like bow Mira miracle kind of move. It's happens through people just showing up, especially God's people showing up to be there, to be present, to provide, to encourage, to speak life and health, to pray.

30:27 That's, that also shows who God is, their story. I just love that he's a hockey player. But it reminded us of a story from last year's Giving Tree where we don't generally, we don't know, the people that kind of fill out the requests. a lot of it's confidential. we get names from different organizations, but that's about it. And, and last year, a man wrote, that his two sons wanted hockey sticks. And, and if you have kids, you know that once your kid gets stuck on something, it's like, well, what else do you want? I mean, a church isn't gonna give us hockey sticks, you guys, what else do you want? Hockey sticks. Hockey sticks. That was it. And so he, he just, I'll just write it down. Backstory, which we didn't know until later, is that this man, had lost his wife that year, lost his job and was broken, just broken.

31:27 And so that's how he ended up kind of in our space. And so he just wrote it down, hockey sticks, and he's like, whatever they get is gonna be great, you know? And so he comes to pick up the gifts at the church and, fully expecting it to be something else. And of course, you know what they are. That's the kind of people we are, I think is like hockey sticks and, and then a bunch of other stuff too. . And this man, he sees these hockey sticks and he just bursts into tears. So starts sobbing. I mean, everything, the weight of his life, right? Just comes out in that moment of gen expression of generosity from, from this church. And, and, and a volunteer sees him. And so she's, you know, just, Hey, are you okay? Is there anything I can do for you? You know, strikes up a conversation. Well, he tells her the whole, his whole story and how much it will mean to his boys. You see, I think God is always mighty. He's always mighty. And sometimes I think a lot of the times he shows his greatness through his people who choose to live a certain way in the waiting.

32:35 A church that steps into care for a family in Chicago, a single dad and his boys here in Bend. So we get so caught up in all the distractions of this world, the holiday season, the trouble that's around us. We're tempted to escape from the concerns around us. But advent is a season for us to lean in to actively wait for God to move in and through our lives, to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our places of work, to our schools.

33:20 And the way Jesus works is seen in a common practice here at Westside. If you have your communion cup, would you grab that? And if you didn't get that, we have ushers and leaders that are willing that are just walking around, and just raise your hand and, they'll get you one of these communion cups. This is a common practice. It's a common practice here at our church. And on the last evening that Jesus with his, with his friends, he did a couple of things, one of which was the communion elements. And the other one which we don't talk about, very often is that he washed his friends' feet, . And, I'm sure glad we went with this practice, and not that one. but sometimes we, we don't know like the impact of that moment in the foot washing. We don't talk about it very often. We talk about this one a lot, but we don't talk about that foot washing. And I just love that these two things happen on the same evening with the same group of people that Jesus really cared about. And see, when Jesus foot washing in those days was a common practice, it wasn't, it's it's unusual today, but it wasn't then. what was unusual is that your rabbi, your teacher, your leader would grab a towel and a basin of water and begin to walk around the table, kneel down and begin to wash your feet. That was the job of servants that worked for the, for the host. And that's was a common job in those days. And, and so for Jesus to actually do this with his disciples, dirty feet,

35:05 Turn the tables on, any idea that they still had, that he was going to come and set up his kingdom the way Rome had it, it completely turned the, I mean, that, that act just prior to his crucifixion, his crucifixion was the act that just turned the tables completely. But man, he was leading up to them. He kept showing them over and over, listen, this is the way of my kingdom. This is the way that I'm mighty in your midst, is my willingness to lay my life down, to serve you, to do what others may not be willing to do. And in that moment, he told them to treat each other with the same respect and act of service as foot washing.

35:53 It was a radical departure. And then, and then he took the communion elements. And in Luke chapter 22, it's recorded as him saying he took some bread and he gave thanks to God for it. And then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciple saying, this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. After supper, he took another cup of wine and said, this cup is the new covenant between God and his people. An agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. See, every time that we take communion, we remember Jesus, who he is and what he did, and, and in wrapped up in communion, is this expression of Jesus love. As you've been loved, church, love, as you've been loved, give, as you've been given sacrifice as it has been sacrificed for you. Remember what it means to follow Jesus, to do what he did, to weigh, to live the way that he lived. Would you go ahead and take the bread and the juice at the same time? Go ahead. Heavenly Father, as we enter into this season of anticipation, of waiting

37:47 For your arrival, I pray that we would represent you Speaker 6

37:55 Well.

37:57 I pray that our lives would somehow, in little ways, model your life and your way. Help us to love our enemies. Help us to forgive those who have hurt us. Help us to welcome the little children. Help us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Help us to love you, God, with our whole heart, mind, and strength. Help us, Jesus, to embody your way in this world, in the in between time as we wait for your return.