What Are We Talking About?

olive branch christmas series
FRESH EYES
Seeing Christmas in a New Light

There are two typical ways that people tend to see Christmas: Oh Boy! It’s CHRISTMAS!  and Oh maa-a-an–It’s CHRISTMAS. It’s possible to move from one view of Christmas to another in less than 20 years. Kids are very excited about Christmas – they can’t wait for all the special things that happen; the anticipation, the decorations and lights, the time off school, the food – I mean, what’s not to like about Christmas?! Well, adults find a few things to not like don’t they? See, over time our eyes get jaded – with the extra work, the expectations, the let-down after Christmas – especially when the credit card bills come in. And Christmas, for some, accentuates loss; the loss of a parent, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a marriage – and a whole new set of realities. And when we hear the song, Joy To The World! we want to ask, For WHAT? And ‘…all is calm, all is bright!’ we think, “Not here!” And that’s why we need to see Christmas – what it means – and the hope and comfort and awe it brings with Fresh Eyes – and then allow the goodness that Jesus brought seep into our soul – and bring us life!

Sunday December 3
2 Services
@ 9:30 & 11:15 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
SOMETHING NEW
Luke 1:26-38
When you look at the Christmas story with fresh eyes, the one thing you realize is that for everyoneeveryone involved, there is a twist in the plot line of the story that they’re living out. Something brand new and totally unexpected. Something so unusual that no one would ever write a story like this on their own.  In fact, most of the people involved would not want to re-write their own story like this! But, then, that’s the story of life, isn’t it?  If you spend much time here on this planet, your story will take unexpected twists and turns that are confusing…and, sometimes devastating. How do you respond to the uncertainty and fear that the strange twists in life brings? Mary, only a teenager, shows us.  Bottom line: God writes a way better story than me!

Sunday December 10
2 Services
@ 9:30 & 11:15 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
LOOK UP
Luke 2:8-14
One of the most powerful determining factors of how you see Christmas – or life in general – is the lens that you see it through. If your experience at Christmas is one of two tense celebrations – one with your Mom and one with your Dad, that alone is enough to make you say, Oh, maaa-a-n, it’s CHRISMAS! If you see Christmas through the eyes of feel-good nostalgia – then Christmas will be way different. The thought is, how you VIEW life is how you DO life. Some of the most dominant characters in the Christmas story – and in any crèche – are the shepherds. After all, what is a Christmas play without a kid in his dad’s bathrobe, holding a staff. Shepherds, by trade, watch over sheep! With sheep – you have to keep your eye on them. They’re not sweet little fluffy lambs; they’re big, smelly dumb animals who’ll butt you if you get in their way.  But on this special night – an interruption – a plot twist – forced them all to look up.  And what they saw changed their lives forever! You know, it’s actually possible to plow through life, head down – and see the normal stuff and never even look up and find the AWE of what God has done – and what He is actually up to in your life!

Sunday December 17
2 Services
@ 9:30 & 11:15 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
SHOW ME A SIGN
Matthew  2:1-11
What’s amazing about the Christmas story when you look past the barnacles of time – is how irreligious it actually is. Luke, the author of most of the account of Jesus’ birth, started out as a pagan; a Gentile. Matthew spent most of his adult life as an outsider – a traitor to the Jewish people and Jewish God. What always surprised religious people is how eclectic God was in choosing His cast.  Especially – a whole entourage of foreign stargazers – or star worshipers! It becomes clear that God intended to bless the nations – and when these stargazers were looking for a sign – God gave them one! Surprise–it’s a …STAR! To the best of our knowledge, the Magi likely had a lot of questions about supernatural things. They likely didn’t know God or how He’d revealed himself to Mary and Joseph – or the religion scholars who answered their questions. Interesting, isn’t it? That with all their gazing into the heavens and studying the stars – the One they pointed to was a person. A baby who changed their lives. What we don’t realize sometimes is –  even if all our profound questions were answered, it would only bring us to the final question: Does God actually CARE?

CHRISTMAS EVE
Sunday December 24
3 Services
@ 2:00, 4:00 & 7:00 PM
Childcare Available for Babies to Age 5
Speaker: Ken Davis
WHAT HEAVEN SAW
Luke 2:8-14
On this amazing night when Jesus was born 2000 years ago, the visitors were not all earthly. You know, scared teenagers, evil kings, mysterious stargazers and shepherds with questionable pasts.  There were two visits from outside the normal. One was a newborn baby – God visiting us. That was hidden from most of those who were part of the story. The other visitors, of course, were God’s Messengers. They show up in blinding brilliance – scaring those that saw them half to death!  We saw them – residents of God’s realm; Heaven. But what did they see? Now, bear in mind – these are splendid beings that we would mistake for God if they didn’t tell us, “Don’t worship us…worship God!”  They see God all the time. These are beings who have existed with God, served God, given messages from God – for eons! They watch over us – so they aren’t surprised or shocked by anything! But on this night, they’re ecstatic, cause God was, that very night, turning the tide of sadness and rebellion in the universe. And their message of joy wasn’t for themselves – it was for us! In essence, God isn’t angry and frustrated and about to nuke us all! He’s about to rain down peace and goodwill and great joy! The question is…do you want to be part of it? And…WILL you be part of it? 

Sunday December 31
1 Service
@ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
Worship with Brooke Nicholls
Childcare Available for Babies to Age 5
THE WEEK AFTER CHRISTMAS
As a kid, the day after Christmas was kind of a letdown. All the surprise was gone – and the aftermath was leftover turkey, visits to relatives that smelled like mothballs – and the prospect of going back to school!  “Awww…maa-a-an!” In some ways, that’s the reality of life, isn’t it? Kind of a microcosm of the Christmas story.  Herod realizes he’s been ripped off – and kills a bunch of children; the Magi find who they’re looking for – and now face a long dangerous journey back home. Joseph and Mary have to find a place to stay – and then get chased out of town. Shepherds go back to chasing strays, birthing lambs, and keeping the sheep out of the poisonous weeds. And, of course, the question for us is…what will 2018 hold? Will it be a rerun of the problems of 2017 – or will the chart reflect that everything is still going up and to the right? The truth? The intersection of Jesus with the world changes everything! And sometimes – we need to just see the new year with Fresh Eyes – and a Fresh Start!

Sunday January 7. 2018
2 Services Return 
@ 9:30 & 11:15 AM