Sunday, January 15, 2023

Scripture and Announcements for January 15

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.


Announcements:


Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study


2023 Offering envelopes are available by the copy machine.

2022 Offering envelope summaries have been put in church mailboxes or mailed.

Time to get onboard the Messenger subscription club. Forms are available on the table in the back of the worship area. Current subscribers will be renewed unless you tell Carol otherwise. Please consider subscribing to your church's magazine.


Donation Box for January and February: Utilities/Heating

First Sundays: food donations for the food banks

Pastor Larry: 217-454-2362


Keep in Your Prayers:

Tate Sawyer; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Michelle West; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Debbie Liebrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Carl & Wilma Cable; Mike & Carol Seidenstricker; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; covid; healthcare workers and first responders; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; the Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library

Military and other services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; disaster project workers;

District Prayer Calendar: Lanark congregation and those serving with Children's Disaster Services

Monday, January 9, 2023

Scripture and Announcements January 8, 2023

 Epiphany Sunday


Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be Born. 

"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold ad of incense and of myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.


Announcements:

 

Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study

 

January 11 Board Meeting: Ex Comm 6:15; Commissions 7:00; Board 7:30

 

2023 Offering envelopes are by the copy machine.

 

2022 offering envelope donation summaries have been put in church mailboxes, if you have one, or mailed out.  Please check your church mailboxes.

 

It’s Messenger Club subscription time. Forms are available in the back on the tables. Please fill it out if you would like to subscribe. Current subscribers will be renewed unless you tell Carol otherwise.

 

Offering plates are in the back on the tables. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Donation Box: Utilities

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook


Keep in Your Prayers

Tate Sawyer; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Michelle West; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus; healthcare workers and first responders; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library; Florida; Puerto Rico; La Place congregation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Where our congregation might be led in the coming months; Council of District Executives meetings

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                        Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Happy New Year Sermon and Announcements

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

January 1, 2023

 

Are you happy or sad to 2022 go?

Psalm 16:5-6

 

Happy New Year! What is your answer to the question that is asked in the sermon title? Is today just another day? I would like us in our own way, to think for a few minutes about the year 2022, what are  your thoughts? For you, your family, your friends, was it a good year? Were there any special moments this past year that will remain with you for a long time? As I continue to ask questions of a more personal kind, compared to other years how do you rate 2022? I take a bit of time of reflection when we turn the calendar from one year to another. There have been some years that I would have liked to have seen never end. There have been others that I was ready to see what a new year would bring. The fact is in many ways it may be more symbolic than real that one year is really better than another.

 

In the scripture we read today we see an acknowledgment that God is in control. The 5th verse honestly states, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup you have made my lot secure.” When we consider how we believe 2022 went, we need to realize God is there providing us with what we need to live life. We are also given the ability to trust and rely on God for much of what we need or we can go out on our own. It is our choice. Verse 6 says, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Notice it says the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Again, pointing out God has allowed good things, even one might say caused good things to come my way.  I do not want to say God does not allow us any ability to make things better for ourselves or our families or make things worse. God gives us a lot of options. Which ones we choose is up to us. What I am saying is each year begins and ends with God rooting us on.

 

As we take a broader look at 2022, we can reflect on things that have happened in our community, our state, our nation and in the world. Is our community in a better place today than it was at the start of 2022? How about our state, our nation, this world we live in. Each person here this morning may have a different answer for each one of these questions. We all view life in different ways. God made us uniquely different, so it is only natural that not everyone views things the same way.

 

Let’s move on to one more question about 2022. Spiritually what kind of year has 2022 been for you? As Christians this is really the most important question. Has 2022 been a year in which you have grown closer and stronger in the Lord? Or has 2022 been a year that has been a struggle because it seems there have been more questions than answers. Oftentimes health problems, financial problems and relationship problems make life difficult. Satan is always trying to tell us God does not care about what we are going through. Of course, that is a lie but that is all Satan knows how to do. So, as I mentioned all those things to consider, what do you think?

 

Looking first at the last question about how 2022 has been for you and me spiritually, what is your answer? I would like to read the last five verses of the 16th chapter of Pslam at this time as you consider your answer.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

 

If we can somehow make verse 7 and 8 our verses as we face life, every year can be a year full of promise and hope. I especially like what verse 8 says. “I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand. I will not be shaken.” Man, if we can lock these words into our hearts and minds. Nothing can or will defeat us. The second half of the verse 8 says it all, because he (God) is at my right hand I will not be shaken. What a powerful statement of faith and trust. That is where God wants us to be.

 

So, as we begin 2023, let us be honest about what may have gone right and what may have gone wrong in 2022. After we spend a little time reflecting on that though, it is time to look forward to this new year we are beginning. There may be times of great joy and there may be moments of deep sorrow. There may also be everything in between. No matter what 2023 brings our way, if we allow the Lord to help us grow spiritually to the point we can honestly say, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” If more times than not we face every situation that comes our way with that kind of confidence, the Lord will see to it 2023 is a year of victory. Have a blessed and victorious 2023! The Lord is with you every minute of the day if we only let him.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Tuesday, January 3 9:30 Bible study resumes.

                        10:45 take down sanctuary decorations

 

January 8 worship in Fellowship Hall

 

January 11 Board Meeting

 

2023 Offering envelopes are by the copy machine.

 

January/February newsletter deadline is January 4.

 

Messenger Club subscription forms are inserts in this bulletin. Please fill it out if you would like to subscribe. Current subscribers will be renewed unless you tell Carol otherwise.

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

Keep in Your Prayers

Tate Sawyer; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Michelle West; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus; healthcare workers and first responders; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library; Florida; Puerto Rico; La Place congregation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the congregations and the leaders in our district.

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                        Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.

 


Monday, December 19, 2022

Fourth Sunday of Advent

 


CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

December 18, 2022

This Week's Scripture: 

It’s Really True!

Luke 1:39-79

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

Zechariah’s Song

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our ancestors
    and to remember his holy covenant,
    the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
    and to enable us to serve him without fear
    in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”


Look on facebook for Sunday's worship and sermon:

Cerro Gordo Church of the Brethren


Announcements:

 

Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study

 

Today and next Sunday Advent special offering. See bulletin insert. Envelopes are in the back of the sanctuary.

 

December 21 7:00 pm Christmas Service: scripture; carols; communion; candlelight

 

December 25 Christmas Sunday

 

January 1 last worship in sanctuary for the winter

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

Keep in Your Prayers

Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Michelle West; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Tate Sawyer; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus; healthcare workers and first responders; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library; Florida; Puerto Rico; La Place congregation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Neighborhood congregation near Montgomery and Boulder Hill

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                        Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.

 

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Third Sunday of Advent--December 11

 


CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

December 11, 2022

 

Can It Really Be True?

Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25

 

Last week we read and considered how God was working to fulfill the promise made to Israel through the prophet Isaiah 700 years earlier. First the one who would pave the way for the Savior was announced. John would be born to two righteous people who had tried their best to honor God during their lives. However, Zechariah and Elizabeth had felt left out by God since they had been unable to have children. Now they were seemingly at an age that children would not happen only to find out God would bless them with a special son. Their son, John, would prepare the way for the Savior. In spite of the fact they were beyond the normal age for having children, God began his plan to redeem the world in this unlikely way.

 

This morning we once again read how God is going to bring the Savior to the world. We first read of how God would use a young woman with no special social standing to bear the Savior. An angel visited Mary and explained how it would all come to be. Mary understood how children came about and knew that it was impossible for this to happen before Joseph and her were actually married. As is the case with God, there was a plan that goes beyond what we might think is possible. The son born to Mary would be unlike any baby ever born before and unlike any baby that would be born after. Just as God created the world from nothing, God would cause this baby to be formed and born as only God could do. Mary had questions for the angel about how this could really happen but the angel assured her God’s hand and blessing was upon all these things and they would happen just as she was told. Mary was even told of the first miracle in which her relative Elizabeth was going to have a son that would also be important to God’s plan.

 

Mary agreed to do whatever the Lord wanted her to do, which then leads us to the man in Mary’s life. An angel spoke to Joseph in a dream. In the dream Joseph was told what was going to happen with Mary, the woman he was pledged to marry. Before the angel spoke to him Mary apparently told Joseph of the visit she had from an angel explaining everything that was about to happen. The fact is Joseph did not believe her. Joseph thought of how to quietly end the engagement. That is when the angel spoke to Joseph in the dream. The angel explained how God was going to bring everything about. The angel then assured Joseph that Mary was a faithful woman who had not done anything wrong. It was important for Mary to have a husband throughout all of this and Joseph had been chosen by God, just as Mary had, to be the Savior’s earthly father as he grew to manhood.

 

We read that just as Mary agreed to do as she had been instructed by the angel Joseph agreed as well. Earlier I said Mary had no special social standing but the fact is both Mary and Joseph fulfilled the earlier prophecy about the Messiah by having King David as their distant relative.

 

When we read about all of these things and how everything happened just as God had said it would, I still cannot help but think we miss how miraculous everything that happened really was. We read how all four of these people agreed to everything they were told. And then we see it all happened exactly as God had planned. All of these key people, at some point probably asked the question first of all, “Am I crazy? Is what I think I have been told really going to happen? Nothing like this has ever happened before. Why us, why now?”

 

Once again, this Sunday put yourself in Mary or Joseph’s shoes. What would you be thinking? Would you ask yourself over and over again, “Can this really be true?”

 

Christmas is getting closer and closer. We are only two weeks from Christmas day. As we celebrate once again the season of miracles, may we try as best we can to understand how amazing everything God has done and continues to do is. May the stories we have reread the past two Sundays be more than just really neat stories from the Bible. May God help us understand how everything that was done happened because of his love for us and that everything talked about is impossible to have happened without God’s hand being up on the events. These are not everyday events we are reading. May we never lose the wonder of it all. And in a way it makes perfect sense for us to question at least for a minute, “Can it really be true?” Not because we doubt God or have no faith in God, but because what happened is truly only possible with God.

 

Today we once again see the faithfulness of a young man and a young woman who were willing to do what God asked them to do. In part, because of their faithfulness we celebrate the Christmas season yet again.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study

 

A Christmas greeting from the District and greetings from others are on the east bulletin board.

 

December 14 Board Meeting—current and incoming members 6:15 exec committee; 7:00 commissions; 7:30 board with reorganization to follow

 

December 21 7:00 pm Christmas Service

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook


Keep in Your Prayers

Family of Leah Flory; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Michelle West; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Tate Sawyer; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Sarah Rudelick; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Candy Dobson; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus; healthcare workers and first responders; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library; Florida; Puerto Rico; La Place congregation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Hurricane Creek congregation near Mulberry Grove

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                        Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.


Monday, December 5, 2022

Second Sunday of Advent

 


CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

December 4, 2022

 

I am speechless!

Luke 5:25

Have you ever had something happen that left you speechless? Has someone ever said something to you that for one reason or another left you speechless? What we read this morning is talking about the first of several events that changed the course of the world forever. We are told of a husband and wife that were truly committed to God that had been unable to have children. They were getting up in years to the point it was unlikely, if not seemingly impossible, to expect they would even have children of their own. But when Zechariah’s division was to serve the Lord in the temple something amazing, something unbelievable happened. For one thing the Lord made sure Zechariah would go alone into the most Holy Place in the temple. Then when alone in the most Holy Place an angel of the Lord was there with him. We read Zechariah was startled and then gripped with fear, but the angel assured Zechariah he had nothing to fear and proceeded to tell him of things that were about to happen to him and his wife. The angel knew his wife’s name and told him not only that a son would be born to them, but what his name is to be and what he would mean to the Jewish people. Their son would be a powerful servant of the Lord that would draw many back to God. The one interesting thing the angel said was that his name should be John, which would be different from what Jewish tradition would have expected of a first-born son. Zechariah’s only question of all this was one that most of us would thing is logical. He asked, “How can I be sure of this?” After all, Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth had been praying for years to have a child and when that time had seemingly come and gone, they are being told it was going to happen.

 

How many of you when you have been wide awake have ever had a conversation with an angel of God? Maybe some of us may have had some sort of dream or vision but a real conversation when wide awake with an angel is not an every day event, even for the most righteous of people. I am pretty sure Zechariah had never had such an event happen ever before. So most anyone would question, how can I be sure this will happen? Then the angel went on to tell Zechariah his name and exactly how connected to God he was.  Gabriel, God’s angel, went on to say, “Because you have doubted, you will be unable to speak until the birth of your son occurs.”

 

Apparently, Zechariah was in this Holy Place in the temple longer than normal and the people waiting outside began to wonder what was taking him so long. Finally, Zechariah came out but as Gabriel had promised he was unable to make a sound when he tried to speak. The people knew something special must have happened but were unable to figure out exactly what it was. Zechariah returned home to his wife and whether he tried to help his wife know what had happened or just waited to see if what he had been told by Gabriel came true, we are not really told. The fact is, things did happen exactly as Zechariah had been told and the events that would soon change the world had begun.

 

Last week we read in Isaiah of a promise made by God to the Jewish people. Now 700 years later the first events that would see that promise fulfilled was starting to happen. Just a reminder, most of you probably already know it was a very big mark against a husband and wife back at this time if you were unable to have children. It was believed that at least one of you must have done something really bad for God not to allow you to have children. That is why Elizabeth said what she said in verse 25, “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” What seemed to be impossible at this late stage in Zechariah and Elizabeth’s life was about to miraculously happen. In many ways even if God had not prevented Zechariah from being able to speak it is quite possible he would have been speechless anyway. Would you have been brave enough to tell those around you what you had been told by an angel? Would they have made fun of him? Would they have called him crazy? After all, they knew how physical bodies worked back then then just like today. In many ways it is not surprising that he was speechless about what had happened to him while he was in this most Holy Place in the temple.

 

What about you and me? At the very beginning of this message, I asked the question, “Have you even been speechless about anything that happened to you or someone you loved?” If so, what made that event so unique it left you speechless? What do you think you would have one if you had been in Zechariah's shoes? Would you have acted any differently than Zechariah did? In the world we live in today I could almost see some saying to the angel, “No it is too late in our lives to raise a child, I do not want this now.” Ten or fifteen years ago would have been fine maybe, even 5 years ago, but we are too old now so forget about it. Do you think anyone might say something like that in today’s world? Thankfully Zechariah did not say that but was willing to see just what God would do. Our God is a God of miracles. Maybe they don’t seem to happen the way things happened during Bible times, but God is still working in the lives of His people and in His world every day. Sometimes we just need to have the faith and the spiritual eyes to see his hand at work today. This is viewed as the season of miracles. The first of those miracles occurred for two faithful people and in many ways probably went unnoticed at the time, but God is at work and began what we call the Christmas Season with a very innocent seeming miracle. Yes, most of us would have been speechless just like Zechariah was. Some of us probably would not have needed God to make us speechless. We would have been unwilling to say what we had been told by an “angel” because virtually no one would believe us. But today we celebrate the first of several miracles that God made happen that once again changed the course of the world forever. What a great God of love, mercy and forgiveness we have. Christmas, the time of miracles, is coming!

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study

 

December 4 4:00 Christmas Vespers HERE

 

December 6 12:00 Women’s Luncheon—will reveal prayer partners; meat & drink provided; please bring a dish: A-H vegetable; K-S salad; T-W dessert. All women are invited.

 

December 14 Board Meeting

 

December 21 7:00 pm Christmas Service

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

 

Keep in Your Prayers

Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Jill McBride; Michelle West; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Tate Sawyer; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Sarah Rudelick; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Candy Dobson; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus; healthcare workers and first responders; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library; Florida; Puerto Rico; La Place congregation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Romine congregation near Salem in Marion County.

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                        Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.