Weekly Worship Thought – Faithfulness

This has been an upside down week! Our air conditioner quit working in our house almost a week ago. In Houston, in July, that is a big problem. Our thermostat has been reporting 96 degree temps inside the house at 10:00 PM. To escape the heat we stayed in a local hotel for a few days. After that we have been graciously hosted by some of our sweet family nearby for another few days.

Despite the inconsistent schedule, frustration with the repair moving slowly, missing our comfortable home, and living out of suit cases, we are finding the silver lining. In all of the challenges and changes, God is faithful. We observe that we are provided for and loved despite not knowing exactly where we will sleep or when we will get back home.

It reminded me of the Psalm from last Sunday, and specifically the first verse. Psalm 89:1 says,

“Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing;

from age to age my mouth will proclaim

your faithfulness.”

Last week I wrote a little song to go with this verse.

God is faithful even when things seem like they are failing and not going according to plan.

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How to Use an Advent Wreath at Home

advent_wreath-1An Advent wreath is a great opportunity to ground yourself or your family in a spiritual practice throughout the hectic holiday season.

The tradition (which dates back to the early sixteenth century) involves placing four candles on a wreath and a fifth in the center of the wreath. One candle is then lighted each Sunday during the Advent season with the fifth candle being lit on Christmas Eve.

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. You may choose to place additional decorations on the wreath. Various evergreens, signifying continuous life, can be placed around the circle of the wreath. Pinecones, nuts, or seedpods also symbolize new life and resurrection.

There are several interpretations of the specific meaning of each candle relating to Christ and the Advent season. Those meanings are further enhanced by the colors of the candles. The first, second and fourth candles are purple/lavender (symbolizing expectation and royalty), the third candle is rose/pink (symbolizing the joy of reaching the midpoint of the Advent season), and the last candle is white (symbolizing Christ, the Light of the World).

The Advent wreath can be placed in the center of the meal table or another prominent place in the home. On each Sunday of Advent, the candle can be lit at dinnertime after the blessing of the food. A brief devotion (provided below) can be a great introduction to each week’s candle. Allow your children to have an active role in reading, praying, and lighting the candles.

First Sunday of Advent – December 1 (Candle of Hope – purple)

  • Reading – Isaiah 9:2
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of this candle, whose flame brings warmth to winter and fills this place with the glow of hope. Amen.”

Second Sunday of Advent – December 8 (Candle of Love – purple)

  • Reading – John 3:16
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of these candles, whose flames bring warmth to winter and fill this place with the glow of hope and love. Amen.”

Third Sunday of Advent – December 15 (Candle of Joy – pink)

  • Reading – Luke 2:10
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of these candles, whose flames bring warmth to winter and fill this place with the glow of hope, love, and joy. Amen.”

Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 22 (Candle of Peace – purple)

  • Reading – Luke 2:14
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of these candles, whose flames bring warmth to winter and fill this place with the glow of hope, love, joy, and peace. Amen.”

Christmas Eve – December 24 (Christ Candle – white)

  • Reading – John 1:14
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of these candles, whose flames bring warmth to winter and fill this place with the glow of you. Amen.”

Resources:

Fourth of July – Mark 9:33-35

Every third week or so, I get to teach the lesson at our Day School at Faith Lutheran. It’s a lot of fun to attempt to teach 80 preschoolers about Jesus. It makes it easier knowing my 2 kids are out there. I just write like I’m talking to them. Here is the “Fourth of July” chapel talk I gave the kids yesterday:


Who knows what holiday is tomorrow?

That’s right tomorrow is the Fourth of July, which is a holiday in our country – the United States of America. Sometimes we also call the Fourth of July “Independence Day” because it is the day that our country decided to be its own nation.

Tomorrow is a holiday for most people. Your parents probably don’t have to work. You might get to have some fun tomorrow, maybe see some fireworks, or have a BBQ with hotdogs.

Our country is a very special country. We have lots of things that other countries don’t have. We can freely go to parks, and swimming pools. We can go to school and learn. We can go to doctors when we get sick and they can help us feel better. And your parents get to pick the people who lead our country.

But every country is special! There are lots of countries all over the world. And they are all made up of different people. Some countries have people with dark colored skin, and some countries have people with light colored skin. Sometimes people have medium colored skin too. And God loves all countries the same! God made all the people in the world, and he loves them all equally. God does not love some countries more than others. God cares about all the people of the world. And we should too.

One time Jesus’ disciples were having an argument. One disciple said, “I’m the best.” Another disciple said, “No, I’m the best.” And the other disciple said, “You are not! I am.” Jesus heard them arguing and said, “Why are you arguing?”

The disciples’ faces turned red, they looked down at the ground. No one said anything, because they knew it was wrong to argue about being the best.

Jesus stopped, sat down, and invited the disciples to sit down with him. He wanted to teach them about being the best. He picked up a child onto his lap. Jesus said, “If you want to be the greatest, then you have to serve and help everyone else.” Jesus told them, “This little child believes in God and can serve others. It doesn’t matter how big or strong or smart or fast you are. Anyone can serve and help others if he or she tries. Then you are truly great.”

Let us pray:

Dear Jesus – thank you for America – and for all the countries of the world – help us to serve others – in everything we do. – Amen.

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Isaiah 6 for Kids

Every week I get to sing songs and tell Bible stories with the kids at Faith Lutheran Day School for their chapel service. It is a highlight of my week. Here is a story I did on Isaiah 6, retold so that preschoolers can understand:

Today we are going to learn about a person from the Bible. His name was Isaiah!

Isaiah lived a long time ago, even before Jesus was born. Isaiah was a prophet. A prophet is someone who is sent by God to tell God’s people where they need to listen to God.

God had a special plan for Isaiah – he wanted to use Isaiah to tell God’s people an important message. God met Isaiah in a very special way to give him the message.


111113_cavalliniIsaiah saw God sitting up very high on a throne. God had a robe that filled up the room. Isaiah saw angels flying over God. These angels had six wings. Two of the wings covered their faces (cover faces) – two of the wings covered their feet (cover feet) – two of the wings were flapping as they flew in the air (flap wings).

The angels were talking to each other! They said – “Holy, holy, holy is God! The whole world is filled up with his glory!”

Then Isaiah heard thunder and saw smoke. Isaiah became afraid! He thought he was goner. Isaiah said, “I am not good enough to see God, but I can see him here, the King of the heavens!”

While Isaiah was still trembling in fear, one of the angels came down to talk to him. The angel had a hot piece of fire in his hands, holding it with tongs. The angel took the fire and touched Isaiah’s mouth with it. The angel said to Isaiah, “You don’t have to be afraid anymore, your sin is taken away.”

Then God spoke. God said, “I need someone to go tell my people a very important message. Who will go for me?” And Isaiah shouted, “Me! Me! Me! Here I am! Send me!” And Isaiah went and told God’s people the important message.

God wants to use us just like he used Isaiah. God has a special message that he wants everyone to hear. God wants everyone to know that Jesus loves them. And you and I can go tell people that Jesus loves them. Can you tell people that Jesus loves them? Good – lets pray:

Dear God, thank you for Isaiah, thank you for your angels, thank you for your love. Help me share, the love of Jesus, with everyone I see. Amen.

Song Story – "Orphan"

“Orphan” is the fourth track from the “Family EP” that I recorded/released last year. Since we adopted Deacon back in May 2007, I had been reflecting on the whole journey. The whole process left a huge impact on me. This recording is my expression of what our adoption means to me.

In the process of song writing and deciding what themes to include, I knew I wanted to include a track that captured the Kingdom imperative to care for the “least of these.”

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)

Caring for orphans, widows, strangers, prisoners, the sick, the abused, … etc. is hugely important. The reason I know this is important is because it’s not just a nice story found in one part of the Bible. It’s a command scattered across both the Old and New Testaments. One of my favorite renderings of this command is from the sixth chapter of Micah. “Orphan” is basically a rocking version of Micah 6:8.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Give it a listen:

Orphan

Here are the lyrics:

People everywhere live with injustice.
Terror, disease, death, and war.

Love mercy,
Walk humbly,
Act justly,
Love mercy.

Strengthen the faint, lift the weak;
Your mighty hand can save.
Stand up for the orphan.

Love mercy,
Walk humbly,
Act justly,
Love mercy.

And the liner notes-type stuff if you’re interested:

“Orphan” – w/m by Clayton Faulkner (c) 2009
electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, percussion, vocals – Clayton Faulkner
drum programming by Stephen Bolech
Produced by Clayton Faulkner & Stephen Bolech.
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Stephen Bolech at Studio K in Waco, TX.

SHARE THE WELL benefit concert

I’ve been organizing this benefit show for Living Water International for several months now, and it’s happening next week! If you’re in or near Houston, I hope you’ll come see us, hear some great music, and support a worthy cause.

DATE: Saturday, July 17, 2010
TIME: 7:00 pm
VENUE: Church of the Holy Trinity, 211 Byrne St., Houston, TX 77009 (MAP)
TICKETS: $10 in advance, $12 at door

Some really talented and wonderful folks are helping out: Randall Goodgame and Ross King.

Your support in any way is appreciated. Here are some ways to help:

  • download the flyer, print it out, pass it around, post it at church or where you hangout (DOWNLOAD FLYER)
  • blog about it, write a post, link to ShareTheWellConcert.com
  • follow us on Twitter (@wellconcert), RTs are appreciated
  • RSVP on Facebook, invite your contacts to attend, share the event on your wall

Thanks for the support – together we can improve the lives of others with clean water.