Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas Meditation

I was in a meeting recently where someone shared the shepherds' account from Luke chapter 2. We got to the final portion of the passage where Luke comments to his readers in verse 19 that "Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." I had always loved that idea of Mary contemplatively pondering what had just happened and her experiences, but I hadn't thought much about the contents of what she was actually pondering. The word "these things" in the text felt really general.

One of the key concepts we try to communicate when we are teaching bible study methods is to read multiple translations. What's interesting is that looking at Luke 2 in a few English translations, this observation didn't jump out at me. My meeting was in German, and so I had a chance to look at the text with new eyes. As I read the text, I noticed that the German text said that Mary "kept these words." Just that transition from "things" to "words" got me thinking, what is it that Mary is thinking about? What is she pondering? What "words" is Luke talking about?

As I asked this question, I looked back through the passage and realized that verse 17 gives us exactly the answer to this question. The shepherds "made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child." This is to say, they made known the "words" that had been told to them about the child.

As someone who has spent a lot of time with the Christmas story, this was really powerful. I always thought the shepherds' primary role was worship, which is still really important. It is an expression of God choosing the lowly and the outsider to celebrate and worship him at his birth. But looking more closely at this text in Luke, I realized that the shepherds had a role of proclamation, as well, and not just to the surrounding villages and people to whome they were connected. The shepherds told Mary and Joseph (though Mary is highlighted in the story) a confirmation of what they both had personally experienced in dreams and angelic visits beforehand. This message from verses 10-12, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of David, the promised Messiah, that will be for all people. This is what the shepherds said. This is what Mary held onto. Even the prediction of where he would be and how they would find him. All of it was a confirmation for her, for them. God was at work; this was his doing, and he sent them unexpected messengers to complete the task. These are the words that she pondered and treasured. This thing proclaimed by angels and shepherds. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Church Plant Launch

November 7th, 2021 was the official first Sunday church service for Crosslight - Evangelikale Gemeinde Leopoldau, our church plant! After 9 years in Austria and 5 years up north living in our target area, we were thrilled to finally see all of our work and waiting come to fruition. 

Moving into a new house and launching a church plant are not recommended to take place on the same weekend. Needless to say, it was a very stressful week and weekend for us leading up to the church plant launch. Our move went smoothly but all of the work on house-related things took our attention away from the service prep. Nate was especially challenged to find enough time to write and prepare his sermon for Sunday.

Despite all of these challenges, God blessed us so immensely! Our church planting team really showed up and did so much prep work to transform the building we rented into a very welcoming space for people to worship in. The service went really smoothly and was a really blessed time together. We had way more people than we expected (32!) and it was fun to see all of those people show up and to worship together. After the service, we offered coffee and tea and then ordered pizza for everyone. This really encouraged everyone to stick around and enjoy community time together and get to know one another better.

Here are some photos and videos from our time that Sunday. Thank you again for all of your prayers for us. Please continue to pray as we prepare for our next service (we are worshipping bi-weekly for now) on November 21st and especially for God to lead the right people to join us. Thank you!

Our little assistants, helping with the set-up.

Set-up of the tech.

Empty rows ready!

Welcome table with coffee and tea.

Prayer time before the service.

Visitors gathering before the service.

Our banner by the street.

Social time before the service.

Nate preaching his sermon.

Reinhold, one of our elders, explaining our prayer time and why we pray together.

Thanking the building owner for allowing us to worship.

Worship time

Some video from Nate's sermon

A snippet of one of the songs

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Video Update: Church Plant Launch

 Our first church plant worship service is coming up on November 7th. We would appreciate your prayers!