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Merry Christmas!  It is our hope and prayer that you are preparing yourself to welcome Jesus once again into the center of your heart.  Our sermon series is Finding Home for Christmas.  Most of us have experienced that longing in our hearts for home.  Even amid that feeling, we know logically that we cannot go home again.  We have changed, our childhood home has changed, and ultimately the world has changed.  Yet, the feeling may persist that we long for home.  What are we longing for?  It is a connection with the fabric of family and relationships.  It is to know someone beyond the surface of casual conversation, and to be known for the person that we are.  It is a connection with people or a person who loves us.  This is what creates a home, but it is hard to find!  This is the meaning of Christmas; God moves into our neighborhood to know us but more importantly for us to know Him! This sounds so easy, but in reality, the forces of this world prevent us from clearly knowing ourselves much less giving us a clear picture of God’s love and power!  The sermon this week is Dead Ends.  All of us have gone down the dead end path and we were faced with the choice to turn around to seek another route or give up.  This week we turn to Luke 1:8-20.  This is the backstory of the birth of John the Baptist who would be the herald of Jesus’s coming.  His father and mother were very devoted people but they had not been blessed with a child.  Having a child for any Jewish person was a sign of blessing, but especially for a priest.  Zechariah and Elizabeth were at a dead end and had given up.  Gabriel meets Zechariah at the altar to tell him that God was transforming his dead end into a powerful new beginning!  This moment is instructive for all believers who are struggling to believe God’s transforming power!  Our most earnest prayer for you is that you will encounter the life changing presence of God at the very moment it seems you have reached the “dead end” and you want to give up or give in!  May you experience a “Zechariah moment” as you read Luke 1:8-20:


8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by Lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous– to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (NIV)