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FALL 2020 REGATHERING

 

Current Olive Branch Message Series

Our world, for the past 7 months or more, has had fear pumped into it every single hour of every single day – locked in by the fear of getting fined or shamed. The only outside links were a) social media and, b) TV and endless news on how bad COVID was, how many people had it, what was getting shut down – and what idiots leaders were for opening things up. In the middle of all this were the outpourings of anger and frustration in the streets – and law enforcement over-reacting, and making things way, way worse. Add to this the financial impact, the loss of jobs, the shut-down of education, restaurants, travel, and entertainment – and that is a recipe for anxiety.
Put people in a context like this – kids inside, home from school 24/7, parents home from work – and working from home, the constant fear that being with others could contaminate you with a disease that could either kill you or family members – or make you wish you were dead. This is a recipe for huge anxiety. And it raises the question for some, “Where is God in all this mess – does He even CARE?”
Fear has no problem finding us. It hunts us down, strips us of our defenses, and demands our attention. And in all of this Jesus, the Prince of Peace says, (originally to people in a far worse position than us), My peace I GIVE to you? If that in fact is true – how? Here’s a thought; maybe the Prince of Peace can’t bring peace to us – unless He’s our Prince – our King?

Sunday November 1 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
WHERE’S GOD?
If you’ve been a person of faith for any length of time, you have without doubt gone through the cycle of thinking, “There’s God!” You sense His Presence, you feel assured that He’s with you – working in your circumstances – your Forgiver, source of strength and hope. And then one day you’re in a dry spot, you’re facing an unexpected challenge – you have a series of things that go really wrong. And then on one terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day – you think…”Where’s God?” You talk to Him – and your prayers bounce off the ceiling – or make nests in the rafters. You lose any sense that God is there – let alone helping you, watching over you, guiding you, and hearing your prayers. Know what helps – at least theoretically? You could go through every narrative in the Bible and write in the margins: “Where’s God? Oh, There’s God! Where’s God? Oh…There’s God! Where’s God?” It’s not because He can’t make up His mind; it’s because, a) a lot of His work is hidden, and b) our fear and anxiety and, at times, despair obscures Him. Where’s God? Always, always there – we just can’t see Him!

Sunday November 8 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
CHOOSING PEACE IN YOUR RELATIONAL WORLD
The one thing that rocks our world and steals our peace more quickly and thoroughly than anything else – is chaos, ruptures, breakdowns in our relational world. Know who needs to fix that? We do. No one else – not even the posse of friends we tell about it – can heal our relational world. God, the originator of shalom – and His Son, who came to make peace and show us what forgiveness looks like – is very interested in things being right between you and others. The biggest barrier is always…are you ready for this? Our pride! We need to decide whether we want to win or reconcile.

Sunday November 15 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
DON’T LET ANXIETY RUN YOUR LIFE!
Getting back to the issue of anxiety – it is a taskmaster, a slavedriver that will crush you and suck the joy and happiness right out of your soul. But you already know that. Paul, who lived in a pressure-cooker learned how to find peace when life was bleak. And he was just an ordinary person – not a super human. The key seems to be finding a place to unload your anxiety. and puting up a firewall that keeps it there.

Sunday November 22 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
THE LAW OF EXPOSURE
There is a law in the universe that is every bit as predictable and real as the law of gravity. It’s the law of exposure. Whether or not you believe in it, you need to know that cancer research believes in it, that social media experts believe in it, and that the entire marketing community believes that it is inevitable. Simply stated – what we regularly expose ourselves to affects our bodies, our mental health, and our soul. We gradually become what we expose ourselves to. If it’s good stuff – that is, noble, true, right, pure, etc. – it will produce good fruit. If it’s not? Well… not so much.

Sunday November 29 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Blair Malfara
PREPARING YOUR HEART FOR GOD’S PEACE
God, since the beginning of time, has sought to create peace with His people. More often than not, God’s people refused to accept these peace offerings, and turned to something else more flashy and desirable. These offers of peace made from God to His people ultimately become realized in the story of baby Jesus and the manger. So, the question for us this Christmas season is the same as it was to the people of God long ago; are we going to miss the offering of peace? Are we going to see the story of baby Jesus as sufficiently peaceful for us, or not? Are we going to let another Christmas season pass us by, or will we grab onto this peace offering anew?

 


 

CHRISTMAS at The Olive Branch

One thing you find out when you dig into the original Christmas story is that peace shalom, was not likely the word that would’ve been chosen by the people it happened to. Like The Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times… it was the worst of times.” It’s a little like what we’re facing this Christmas – if the world has to go through a pandemic, it’s both the best of times – because of technology and communication and medicine – and it’s the worst of times – because of the disruption and frustration it’s caused.
When you think about it, It makes sense that God would choose the birth of a baby to split history. Birth always brings joy… and chaos and, of course, massive change! There’s the initial blush of joy and hope; then the fear of something bad happening; then the physical disruption for a woman being stretched to capacity to carry this growing baby; the curious mixture of pain and joy of giving birth – and then the huge disruption in the home of welcoming this new person whose needs exhaust parents – and push them to their breaking point.
Jesus’ birthday still brings both joy – and chaos to our homes, to our lives and to our world. The cast of characters stays the same, but the names change. There’s always a good person, like Mary, who wants to do what’s right, but finds herself in the chaos of change she didn’t choose! There’s a person like Joseph – who initially feels ripped off, and doesn’t get what’s happening. There are always crazy leaders in the world – arrogant enough to think that everything centers around them and that they can do whatever they want. There are the wise people who always seem to know exactly what to do and expect. There’s the disappointment with normal… when it just isn’t fun and exciting anymore.
In all of this, though, there’s the surprise of God. He shows up when we least expect Him. He doesn’t need for things to be perfect – to get done what He plans to do. When He works, the big shots become by-lines in His ultimate story. And the biggest surprise of all? Peace!  Shalom! It’s for everyone who will open their hearts to it.

Sunday December 6. 2020 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
PEACE… WHEN THERE’S CHAOS IN YOUR HOME
So, here’s the question; is it only possible to have peace at the core of your life – when there’s peace on the outside – more specifically in your home? Where you live? With the people who surround you – you know, the people you eat supper with, clean up after, share living space with? Having tension where you live and with people you love definitely affects the quality of life. But if peace actually flows from peace with God – then peace at the core is possible. And that’s important, because sometimes God calls you to do things that people you know and love do not understand – and may not like for years!  I’m guessing – that’s what happened to Mary. In that culture, getting pregnant out of wedlock when you’re engaged wasn’t just difficult and inconvenient, like it is in ours. It was literally life-threatening! I can only imagine the tension at the dinner table – and the tension in the tiny shame-based town Mary lived in.  And yet… all she was doing was immensely pleasing to God – and she became the most honoured woman in history! Any tension or drama you have in your home this Christmas is likely no greater than hers. What we have to do is make sure we’re not the cause of the chaos – or making it worse! And that takes humility – something that Mary had.

Sunday December 13. 2020 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
PEACE… WHEN THE LEADERS ARE CRAZY, EVIL… OR BOTH!
If you read your history books, the world has always, it seems, had a leader somewhere that was either crazy or evil – usually both. The craziness was usually associated with an obsession for money, sex or power. And leaders that are both crazy and evil – like Hitler – do a  lot of damage and leave a lot of scars.  We aren’t the first world to experience crazy leaders – in fact, it was a lot worse in the first century BC. Not only was Herod both crazy and evil, Caesar Augustus was too! The fascinating thing is that as big and well-known as they were then – household names – they’re just footnotes in Jesus’ story.
If the Prince of Peace can come – vulnerable and helpless – and die vulnerable, nailed to a cross, and bring peace 2000 years later, it’s pretty clear that crazy, evil leaders who get their money and power by stealing it from others – cannot steal your peace. To hand your peace to them is both crazy…and evil!

Sunday December 20. 2020 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
PEACE… WHEN FOLLOWING GOD LEADS TO A BARN
As you know, from Jesus’ biography, there were sane, wise, good leaders in Jesus’ story. The problem is, we don’t know their names, where they came from, or what happened to them after they met – and worshipped Jesus. The strange part of this story is that the religious leaders of Israel, the keepers and exegetes of all the sacred writings and prophecies were only 7 miles away from Bethlehem -where Jesus was born and spent his first months of life. And they never even came to see who He was – even though they knew He’d been born.
The Magi, or wisemen, as they were known, didn’t even follow the God of Israel – and yet they were the ones open to hearing about the Messiah. The back story on what happened is fascinating. You’d think that after a dangerous, expensive journey that took months – they’d be disappointed at finding Jesus – in what would seem to be a very unspectacular place.  But their enthusiasm and connection with God, doesn’t seem to at all be affected.
We find God is some very unusual places. We just have to be open – and wise enough to see Him – and know Him.

Thursday December 24 @ 5 PM / CHRISTMAS EVE
Speaker: Ken Davis
PEACE… WHEN GOOD HAPPENS IN BAD CIRCUMSTANCES
There’s very little about Jesus’ actual birthday that you could call good – at least from a human perspective. No one likes to be taxed!    If I had to go back to Pittsburgh so I could then be taxed by the US government – I’d be an unhappy camper! Same with many of you.  Imagine having to make a long dangerous trip to…pay taxes! If you’re a woman, imagine being 9 months pregnant – knowing that you would have to give birth where no one you knew, except your husband, could help! And, of course, Mary went into labour once they got to Bethlehem.
Now we know Jesus had to be born there – but Mary didn’t! Now we send cards with cute sheep and cows and donkeys – with a smiling baby on clean straw, out in a shed on a starry night. It seems peaceful – almost a little romantic! But at the time, it was every Dad’s and every Mom’s worst scenario. It wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination! And yet – it was so spectacular that angels showed up and sent a gaggle of visitors – who also weren’t ideal – on the level of carnies in our world. But what God was doing in the middle of not good, not ideal, un-sanitized, events and places brought peace.  Just like the angels said, Glory to God, peace on earth, good will to all of humanity. Don’t give up on peace when it seems like everything in your world is fighting against it!

Sunday December 27. 2020 @ 10 AM
Speaker: Ken Davis
PEACE… WHEN NORMAL ISN’T AN OPTION
Well, the drama and difficult stuff didn’t end at the stable – or with the financial struggle of living as poor people in a strange town and paying taxes. Then Mary and Joseph and Jesus faced danger – from a crazy, evil king! Then they had to escape to the foreign country where their ancestors had been slaves! Then, even though they tried to go and live in the center of their faith – where Jesus could live out his destiny – they were sent back to Gossip Central – to the very place where they had been most understood!
Every Christmas, we experience the same. The wonder and excitement of Christmas – and then – January in Toronto! Back to school. Months before the weather will be nice… and, of course, we have to pay for Christmas.
Jesus brings peace to normal, though. And that’s good – because life is mostly about normal. Even now – in the middle of a pandemic when most everything about our lives has changed – Jesus brings peace.

Videos
Sunday November 29. 2020
Sunday November 29. 2020
Sunday November 22. 2020
Sunday November 22. 2020
Sunday November 8. 2020
Sunday November 8. 2020
Sunday November 1. 2020
Sunday November 1. 2020
Sunday October 25. 2020
Sunday October 25. 2020
Sunday October 18. 2020
Sunday October 18. 2020
Sunday October 12. 2020
Sunday October 12. 2020
Sunday October 4. 2020
Sunday October 4. 2020
Sunday September 27. 2020
Sunday September 27. 2020
Sunday September 20. 2020
Sunday September 20. 2020
Sunday September 13. 2020
Sunday September 13. 2020
Sunday September 6. 2020
Sunday September 6. 2020
Sunday August 30. 2020
Sunday August 30. 2020
Sunday August 23. 2020
Sunday August 23. 2020
Sunday August 16. 2020
Sunday August 16. 2020
Sunday August 9. 2020
Sunday August 9. 2020
August 2. 2020
August 2. 2020
Sunday July 26. 2020
Sunday July 26. 2020
Sunday July 19. 2020
Sunday July 19. 2020
Sunday July 12. 2020
Sunday July 12. 2020