Advent 2015 Sermon: There Is Still Hope

Sermon preached at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Longview, Texas


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Thanksgiving Prayer 2015

The Prayer

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”– Karl Barth

Below is a prayer for Thanksgiving


The world is raging, O Lord. There are times when the worst of who humanity can be is shown in the most horrific ways: murder, anger, disgust, innocence lost. Our minds race with questions and concerns trying to piece together something, anything that resembles an answer for why these things must take place, why we as your children find more and more ways to hurt one another.

You have created humanity in your own image; you have gifted us with the indwelling of your mark, your light, your spirit; you have named us and claimed us as your own. All of humanity is created and formed in this very image. When pain is created at the expensive of another then it causes pain against you O God. When we allow hate to rule our hearts, we in turn are hating you; when we reject others based on fear and the unknown then we are rejecting you.

Help us O God to be a beacon of light, life, peace, justice, stewardship, mercy and grace. Rise up within the Church faithful followers who will put aside fear, disgust and anger and put on grace, truth, peace and hope. May we open our arms to welcome those who are hurt, welcome those who are needing rest, welcome those who are seeking calm and comfort. May we cast aside our fear and take on the mantle​ of courage and faith. Guide our thoughts and actions that we might strive to serve your kingdom in our actions, donations and prayers.

In the midst of all that is happening in our world, we stop, gather with family and friends and reflect on the ways in which we are thankful for the year gone by. While we say that there are so many things that we are thankful for, it is hard to enumerate, to articulate them all in a single day or much less a single meal.

For this day O Giver of Life, we are thankful.

For an opportunity to rest and be revived, we are thankful.
For the bounty of blessings that you cast upon us: life, family, friends, companionship, mercy and forgiveness, we are thankful.

How can one person ever find the words to encapsulate the ways in which you O Lord have provided for us, guided us, showed us a better way?

Remind us of the simplicities of life, the simplicities of our faith that we are to be thankful for. Allow us to be moved to more than pleasantries but to truly reflect this Thanksgiving on all the things we have been blessed with.

We pray this in the name of the one who comes on our behalf, Jesus the Christ.


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Advent Calendar 2015

Advent is the time in the church calendar when we wait for the coming of the Christ child. It is marked by the observation of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. Each Sunday of Advent the church observes a different theme of this journey: hope, peace, love and joy. Candles are lit as the light of the world (Christ) is drawing closer to us.

During this time, we are called not to run to the manger but to wait… that’s right…. wait… for Christmas. Sure some people have decorated their entire house on November 1 but Advent calls us to slow down, be more reflective and wait. It is through this intentionality that we begin to see and experience the message of hope, peace, love and joy in our own lives and the world around us

There is something freeing, however, in slowing down. We are able to take in all that is around us and see how God is moving in our lives in ways that we would have looked right over had we not taken a moment to be reflective and aware.

How are we using this time of Advent to prepare and to wait? Are we rushing from store to store buying mountains of gifts, trying to equate our love for someone by how big the price tag is?

Don’t we want Christmas to be something more than lights, too much food, elves on the shelf and Santa? Why can’t this time of Advent propel us into a deeper sense of the Divine around us and with us? Where are the places God is leading us to? These are the thoughts that we take with us during this journey to the manger.

Use this calendar each day of Advent to prepare yourself for the coming of Jesus into the world.

Each day has a scripture and something to pray for or to reflect on. Let us journey to together to find the Christ-child, the source of all hope, peace, joy and love this Advent.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


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Creative Commons LicenseAdvent Calendar 2015 by Rev. Evan M. Dolive, M.Div. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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Looking For Jesus In All The Wrong Places

Starbucks has been in the press a lot recently over a design choice. Traditionally November is the start of “red cup” season at Starbucks as they begin their journey into the holiday season. This year, however, is causing a stir.

Joshua Feuerstein is a minister and has millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter. He and his backward red MLB hat take to the Internet in an effort to “rally” others to his point and his theological framework. He has ranted on subjects like evolution, same-sex marriage and even Target’s decision to make their toy section gender neutral.

Recently he took to the Internet to complain about Starbuck’s “attack on Christianity” in this so-called “era of political correctness.”(video above)  In Feuerstein’s mind, the removal of snowflakes, reindeer, snowmen and the like is akin to trying to remove Christianity from the public sphere. His solution? Instead of telling the barista your actual name, tell them your name is “Merry Christmas” (so lying is ok?) in an effort to “force them” to say “Merry Christmas” to you.

This argument of a hostile corporate removal of Christianity is one that has no basis; Christianity is not under attack from a coffee company or any company for that matter. Sure I do not like the commercialization of Christmas but not having “Merry Christmas” on a cup or a Christmas tree in the mall is not something I worry about, it doesn’t prove or disprove my faithfulness, it is not a threat to my relationship with God and Christ.

The story of the birth and ministry of Christ is not Starbucks’ (or any corporations) story to tell. This story of the coming of the Messiah is one of all people of the Church to tell through their life, their sharing and their embodying the teachings and actions of Jesus.

Starbucks’ previous red cups did not have “Merry Christmas” emblazon on them and the company still sells “Christmas Blend” coffee and even has a Advent Calendar. So just because the words “Merry Christmas” do not appear on the actual cup, this is an attack on Christianity?

The problem is Jesus is not found on the outside of a red cup from a multi-national coffee chain. If Jesus and all that Jesus stands for is not found at the bottom of a bottle or in prescription medications, then why would Jesus be found on a cup?

Jesus is found in places we would never expect.

Jesus is found at bed 57 at the homeless shelter.

Jesus is found at the bedside of an ICU room or at a hospice.

Jesus is found in the glassy eyes of a single mom receiving food assistance for the first time from the local food bank.

Jesus is found in the undocumented worker who harvested the food we eat.

Jesus is found when people of faith set aside their theological differences on Sunday mornings and strive for a more just and loving society.

Jesus is found in the laughter of children.

Jesus is found in the cool wind of fall.

Jesus is found where ever the faithful for God gather to worship.

Jesus is found when we give.

Jesus is found when we serve.

Jesus is found when we love unconditionally.

Jesus is found when we liberate.

Jesus’ love, grace and mercy cannot be confined to a single Sunday or even a red paper cup.

We cannot and should not limit the movement and presence of Christ to the four walls of a stained glass building or even a red paper cup.

If we are going to claim to be Christ’s followers then how we work, where we serve, the things we give need to emulate the ministry and movement of Jesus the Christ.

Having a barista write “Merry Christmas” as your name on a red paper cup for your triple venti toffee nut latte is not helping the cause of Christ. Rather take the $5 you would have spent on yourself and give it to someone who needs it is the definition of selfless giving and the gospel.

So the next time you are in Starbucks and you order a drink in their pretty red cups, do not look for Jesus on the cup, look for the Jesus in the world around you; you never know where you might see him.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan