Lauren Vlcek, Textile Artist
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
I proclaim my faith and declare my trust in God but often am motivated by fear. The truth remains- faith and fear cannot coexist. When I worry about all things big and small, I am living in fear and not trusting in God. Trusting God does not necessarily mean the outcome of the situation will be changed; it means I will be at peace while working my way through the circumstances.
In times when I find myself distraught, overwhelmed, and in search of what to do, I remember the prophecy—the promise—of God sending perfect humanity and absolute deity in one being named Immanuel—God with us. When I go to him in prayer and trust that he is there with me every step of the way, his peace washes over me.
Dear God, Forgive me for losing sight of the magnificence of this prophecy. Thank you for sitting with me in my darkest hour. Help me to remember to seek and find comfort in your presence, which is all I need.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.
God’s people had chosen leaders that led them far from God, and they followed them to places of pain and hardship. They became tragically familiar with injustice, violence, sorrow, misfortune and disaster. And they knew they had only themselves to blame, for they had put their trust in everything and everyone except God.
God would have been well within his rights to abandon his people to the hell they had created for themselves. God had been more than patient; he had been more than merciful. But God was not about to abandon the people who had abandoned him. When there was no one left in Israel to turn God’s people back to him, God said, “I’m going to come to them myself.” When there were no righteous leaders left in Israel, God said, “I will lead them myself.” Righteousness and justice, peace and wisdom, had fled from God’s people, but God said, “My people will yet taste my righteousness and peace. They will know my justice and wisdom. I, myself, will ensure it.”
Are you well-acquainted with sorrow and misfortune? Have you seen violence and injustice spread across the world you live in? Have you made a mess that you cannot clean up? Take heart! God will come to you. God will lead you. God will guide you to safety and security, for God has already planted his Righteous Branch and his Kingdom is at hand.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
It’s Christmas time! The anticipation of joyful celebrations with our friends and families is impossible to ignore. Children are giddy with excitement over the gifts that will be under the tree on Christmas morning! It’s impossible to avoid the joy and excitement that comes with the Christmas season.
That promise of joy was foretold by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before we ever began to celebrate Christmas! He told of the gift of the Christ child— a Son born to dwell among all the people, a child that would be one with God. He would lead us out of darkness, bear our burdens, bring great joy, and never abandon us.
In the centuries that have passed since then, the focus of Christmas day seems to have shifted. We seem to concentrate on shopping for all the right gifts, preparing holiday meals, decorating the tree, sending cards… the list of “things to do” just seems inexhaustible at times. But, in spite of watching the celebration of Christmas metamorphose over the centuries, I am struck with a theme that has persevered—the spirit of JOY, the promise of JOY, and our desire to share that with others.
I remind myself that it is not the festivities of the season that have instilled that wonderful spirit of joy among us, but God himself. It is his benevolent gift to us of his Son, Jesus Christ, that prevails over this holiday celebration. That gift has endured for over 2000 years! How small am I in the big scheme of things? Very! How valuable am I in the eyes of God, and in keeping his enduring gift alive? Priceless!
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
The Lord used Malachi, 500 years before the birth of Christ, to tell his children that he would send them a messenger: “This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you’” (Matthew 11:10). Malachi, speaking for God, is talking about John the Baptist, to whom God gave the mission of introducing God's Son, Jesus, to his people.
John the Baptist’s introduction is meant as a gift to the people, and to give the people notice and allow them to prepare themselves for God's greater second promise: to come to his people Himself.
If we are going to have a guest coming to our home, the natural thing is to prepare for the event. We clean, make special arrangements, invite other guests and perhaps plan a feast. We do everything we can to make sure everything is ready and at its best in order to honor our visitor.
If the honored visitor shows up unannounced and we are not prepared, it could lead to embarrassment for us personally and, even more, an embarrassment to our honored guest.
God is a gracious and loving Father. He wants to give us the opportunity to know of and be completely prepared for his visit. Our celebration honoring the gift of God’s Son should also become an opportunity for us to personally prepare ourselves for his promised second coming.
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.
Deuteronomy is that book in the Bible which I find at once poignant and confusing—a portrait of Moses the prophet alternately reflecting over the great journey from Egypt and looking forward to a land he will not see. Moses knew his time with his people was limited. Amidst numerous chapters of rules and commandments, many of which seem confined to another time, we find this single verse giving promise that God will be with us. The same God who led his chosen people will send one who will lead us forward on a journey which we do not know. It is a hope; it is a comfort; it is a promise. It is a “wonder.”
I wonder, did the Hebrews grasp this? Did Moses even know what God intended? A man, chosen by God, will come to lead us in love: nothing more... nothing less. God was not done with his people back then; he is not done with us at MCPC; He is not done with you. So as the Hebrew people paused and waited for what God had in store for them, during this Advent season, we too wait for the promised one.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Twinkling lights, Yule logs, mistletoe, fruit cakes, Charles Dickens, Christmas cards, gifts, family and friends herald the coming of Christmas. Let’s not forget the ornately decorated Christmas tree.
Isaiah, a prophet, foretold of a Christmas tree that would be planted in Bethlehem 700 years in the future. This sapling would not be packed up or thrown away at the end of the Christmas season but would grow into a huge tree.
Isaiah told the people of Judah that God would cut down the wicked and powerful in Assyria and Israel like a felled tree until nothing but a stump would be left. God would then graft a root onto the stump of Jesse and from this root a shoot would grow into a branch that would bear fruit. The fruit would have the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel and power. This branch is Jesus, who would touch people and change their lives with peace, justice and salvation.
I know many of you, like me, may come to the Advent season feeling cut down, wounded in body, mind and spirit. We are reminded during this time to rejoice in Christ’s coming because he promises us peace and salvation forever.
Welcome to Monument Community Presbyterian Church!
We are a family-oriented, community-directed church that upholds the democratic and religious traditions of the Presbyterian Church USA.
We're located a block west of Monument's Post Office, in the heart of Monument and the Tri-Lakes Area.
MCPC strives to accommodate those who have severe peanut allergies, including ingestion, touch and airborne sensitivities. Please help them stay safe by refraining from bringing food items with any peanuts, peanut butter or other peanut by-products into our building. Thank you!