Angels on the Margins

5df906ac5c5f38c7cb9c03a02461ab3cScripture Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
(December 20, 2015 @ 10:30 a.m.)

Scholars believe the writer of Luke was aware of Mark’s concise story of Jesus. About four or five decades after the end of Jesus’ earthly life, Luke retells the story with added description and an emphasis on the poor and oppressed. The moral of the life of Jesus is salvation and hope for those who need it the most in Luke’s tale.

If Jesus is for the marginalized, then even his birth must have happened in such a way that he and his family understand difficulties firsthand. Jesus is born among the animals because Mary and Joseph were denied access to a room on the inside of the house.

Jesus will lead from the outside. Recalling his birth location, Jesus will lead and minister from the margins. Even the angelic host is sings at the birth of the one who will care for the marginalized.

Though a hopeful story for the outsider, Luke connects Jesus to the revered David of generations past. He reminds the hearer of Israel’s glory days. Using the shepherds as the first to whom the angels announce the birth, Luke creates a picture that reminds the people of the shepherd turned King David.

Luke’s is a story of hope for the hopeless.


Psalm 148:2

Praise God, all of you
who are his messengers!
Praise God, all of you
who comprise his heavenly forces!

Luke 2:1-20 CEB

Jesus’ birth
2 In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Announcement to shepherds
8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. 9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.

Revelation 5:11

Then I looked, and I heard the sound of many angels surrounding the throne, the living creatures, and the elders. They numbered in the millions—thousands upon thousands.

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Standing in Solidarity

“In this moment, we own our Christian responsibility to lift up our voice once again to express our love and concern for our Muslim sisters and brothers. We stand in solidarity with communities of faith in our abhorrence of the xenophobic and racist attitudes that motivate such hate speech and actions. We live with the hope that peace and justice will prevail for all of God’s children.” — Joint Statement by leadership of United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

View the full statement here.

Advent Outreach

Opportunities for Outreach

We have multiple opportunities for reaching out to others during Advent and Christmas this year. Please choose one or more in which to participate.

Sock Tree 

Bring new white tube socks for the Sock Tree. Socks will be donated to a homeless shelter in The Dalles or elsewhere.

Water Project

During Advent, drink water instead of your coffee or other drink. Donate that money to the church labeled “water project.” The moneys will be donated to Global Ministries earmarked for water projects in Mozambique. Global Ministries is the collaborative mission arm of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Learn more about where the money will go here.

Christmas Fund

Donate to the UCC Christmas Fund. The Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund provides for retired and active clergy and lay workers of the church who are in financial need. The Christmas Fund provides supplements to small pensions, assistance with retirees’ health insurance premiums, grants in emergencies, and “thank you” checks to remind retirees that they continue to be remembered and held with affection by their wider church family. We will be joining congregations of the UCC across the country as we receive the Christmas Fund Offering during worship on Christmas Eve, December 24.  Watch a video here.

Mark’s Story

Join us Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for the Second Sunday of Advent. Guest preacher Maggie Sebastian will explore Mark’s Story of Christmas with us.

Each of the gospel writers seeks to make sense of the story of Jesus. How did he begin his life? What is important in his teachings? What happened at the cross and afterward?

Though it comes second in our Bible, Mark was the first gospel written. Mark is the most concise. It has a “just the facts m’am” feel to it as the story of Jesus unfolds. This results in an absence of a birth narrative of any kind. Clearly the writer of our first gospel did not know of or find the birth important.

What Mark does, however, is connect us to the past, present, and future. Making reference to the past, to the prophets of the elder testament, Mark points us to a hopeful future.

Scripture Mark 1:1-3 CEB

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, 2 happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:

Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
3 a voice shouting in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight.”

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible