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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Advent Calendar 2015 PDF

Advent Calendar 2015 word


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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Easter 2015 Message

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Flowered Cross at Northwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Beaumont, Texas. Taken by Rev. Evan M. Dolive.

Below is my Easter sermon based on John 20:1-18.

Easter blessings to you and yours.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


[audio http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/p0yjor9ehs/easter_2015_Mission_after_christ.mp3|titles= Easter 2015: Mission After Christ|animation=no]

Were You There?

"The Lord Became Obedient To Death..."

 

“From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark. At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?” After hearing him, some standing there said, “Look! He’s calling Elijah!” Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.” But Jesus let out a loud cry and died. — Mark 15:33-37 (CEB)


Photo Credit: “The Lord Became Obedient To Death…” by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons License 2.0

Take. Eat. Take. Drink.

The Holy Supper - Kuznetsov 02

“I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.” I Cor. 11:23-26 (CEB)


Photo Credit: The Holy Supper – Kuznetsov 02 by Waiting For The Word, on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0

The Anointing of Jesus

In John 12:3-8, Mary anoints Jesus with expensive perfume and wipes his feet with her own hair, to which Jesus says that it was intended "she should save this perfume for the day of my burial".

Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.)

Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”

Many Jews learned that he was there. They came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. he chief priests decided that they would kill Lazarus too. It was because of Lazarus that many of the Jews had deserted them and come to believe in Jesus. –John 12:1-11 (CEB)


Photo Credit here.

Hosanna!

Palm

 

When Jesus and his followers approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus gave two disciples a task, saying to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.’”

They went and found a colt tied to a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some people standing around said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them just what Jesus said, and they left them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes upon it, and he sat on it. Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields. Those in front of him and those following were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. After he looked around at everything, because it was already late in the evening, he returned to Bethany with the Twelve. — Mark 11:1-11 (Common English Bible)

 


Photo Credit: “Palm” by Stephen Cummings via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons License 2.0

 

Tweet of the Week: Wait… What?

I know that a lot of people do not like the President’s policies or whatever, but this type of criticism is a new one for me.  I have heard people in passing joke about the fact that they think the President is the “Anti-Christ” (a word not even used in the book of Revelation but that is topic for another day) but never anything like this.

Happy Friday and happy tweeting!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

It Was Like This When I Got Here

This piece was picked up by Sojourners Magazine.


A lot has been written about the decline of the mainline church over the years. There are numerous theories have been passed around. Nearly every pew-sitting faithful Christian in America has her or his own opinion. As a minister I have heard a lot of these complaints from the masses; the request is simple. They want the church to be the center of social and political life as it seemed to be in the 1950s and 1960s. They want the pews packed with people, the nursery overflowing with babies, and the church to have the same level of particularity that it did years ago. The church today finds itself having to share time and attention with the rest of the world. Because of this (and numerous other factors), the church for the most part has seen the number of people attending the hallowed halls of a church house begin to decrease.

In an effort to find a culprit for the shrinking size and popularity of church, a scapegoat has been named and they are “young people today” — a catchall term for people under the age of 35 (or thereabouts) who have seemingly left the church en masse.

They are vilified as the sole reason and cause for the church to not be busting at the seams with people. If only those “young people” could just stop being so selfish on Sunday mornings and just come to worship God at 11 a.m. like people have been doing for years, the world might be a better place.

Maybe you have heard some of these gems before:

  • “Young people today don’t care about religion … unless they can find it on an iPhone.”
  • “Yong people today weren’t made to come to church and that’s why they aren’t here.”
  • “I know young people today like contemporary music but I don’t care for it.”
  • “Young people today would rather sleep than come worship the Lord.”
  • “Young people today are too busy with sports and extra activities. They are too overextended. If they can put effort into sports, they can put effort into God.”
  • “Young people will spend all day getting ready for a prom or a dance but show up to church in jeans and t-shirt.”

The list goes on.

How does a “young person” effectively convey the notion that “the church was like this when I got here?”

I have met some people who are deeply spiritual, caring, compassionate, loving people, but they don’t attend church. But young people for the most part do not have a problem with the church or with Jesus or even with teachings of church. So why the absence on Sunday morning?

For many people, the problem is the people who call themselves Christians but don’t live up to Christian ideals. They say the church focuses on the wrong things; why are some people so acutely aware of the “sins” of others but cannot see the hungry child in their own backyard.

If you want young people in your church, give them something to do. Young people are ready to go, do, serve, be, and extend the ministry of Christ to all people — but they have to a place through which they are able to do so.

There is a drive in young people who want to do something greater than themselves and to give and love, but when it’s met with pledge cards, committee meetings, condescending looks for wearing jeans and t-shirts, or saying they have to wait until they are 45 and have three kids to make a difference, then what’s the point?  I can worship God in my house or in nature just as easily as I can in a building with stained-glass windows.

Give “young people” the chance to and they will knock your socks off … I promise. You will see movements of God that you would have missed if you had “stayed the course.”

The decline of the church is not my generation’s fault. It was in decline long before I was born; it was like this when I got here. But that doesn’t mean it is too far gone. The church does a lot of things right and can still do more.

Let the “young people” lead; let them be the hands and feet of Christ in the world and watch what happens. Listen to their passions, listen to their concerns, and listen to where they feel God is leading them.

It’s not “young people’s” fault for the decline of the church, but they can surely be a part of the answer.

Keep the faith … all is not lost. ​

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Finding Religion In A Fortune Cookie?

Fortune Cookie Deep Faith

Can you find religion in the American made tradition of a fortune cookie?  After church we went out for Chinese by request from my now 5-year-old; I opened my fortune cookie and found this message.

Generally these fortunes aren’t really fortunes at all but often cliché sayings that are supposed to make you feel better for eating too many egg rolls.  They have become so silly that people have even started making games out of these feeble sayings.

This one, however, was different; maybe it was different because I needed to hear it.  We all need a reminder from time to time that our faith is something that is not static but ever-changing and growing.

We turn to it in our times of need and in our times of sorrow.

Can faith really drive out fear?  I think so if we remember that it is there to begin with.

This little piece of paper reminded me that while the future is always uncertain, my reaction to it is not.

My faith might be shaken or even shrink to the point of non-existence but there is something that will always call me back, something that will point to something greater than myself.  In a world of 10,000 emails, productivity software apps, deadlines and commitments, we can forget that the simplest thing is to have faith like a child.  We don’t have to have all the answers, run around with an “I love Jesus” t-shirt on or even attend a local congregation.  The faith that we have can be simple or it can be great; all that matters that we have that faith.

Every person as a part of their faith journey has some reason why they keep coming back to God even when facing adversity or doubt. There is something that calls us back into communion or relation with God that undeniable. There is a moment in every person’s life when the Divine was so real, so tangible, you felt as if you could almost reach out and touch God. Our hearts our filled, they are overwhelmed with God and God’s grace or mercy or love or forgiveness. That is that calls us back… that is where we find our wholeness and completeness. This faith drives out our doubt and fear; this faith is undeniable and the bed rock of our understanding of God.

Over time we can lost sight of it or think that we should be doing more, but more times than not we will return this place to recharge and reconnect.

So yes maybe you can find religion in a fortune cookie. The next time you stuff your face with Lo Mein and spring rolls and before you learn your lucky numbers and how to say “sugar” in Chinese, be sure to look for the message that awaits you, you never know what you might find.

Keep the faith.

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan


“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”– Saint Augustine, taken from The Confessions

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 Common English Bible

Lenten Devotional

In the Disciples of Christ we have a unique congregation that many people do not know about.  Fig Tree Christian Church (DOC) is an entirely online church… that’s right, online church. It’s a really interesting concept one that seems to be catching on; recently Fig Tree announced that they were accepting memberships.

From their website:

Fig Tree Christian is a place where we can talk openly about Christianity. It is a place where we can learn together. It is a new adventure in being a community of God. Spring is here and a new summer is on the way. We are Fig Tree Christian because it is such a time as this when we need to be the example to invite in a new summer.

I have been asked to contribute to Fig Tree Christian Church’s 2015 Lenten Devotional entitled “Scandal at the Cross.”   You can download the study now in PDF form (link) or if you are an Android user you can download the Devotional App via the Google Play store in the coming weeks.  Sorry iOS users the cost to get into the Apple App store is about $100 and Fig Tree couldn’t afford it this time, maybe next year.

During Lent I will post my two submissions on February 18 (Ash Wednesday) and March 18.

I am grateful to Fig Tree for allowing me to be apart of their devotional series and I hope that you are enriched by it this Lenten Season.

To learn more about the Lenten Series and the authors that contributed click here.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan