It looks so innocent.

Mary and Joseph star-gazing at their little newborn son.  This day is a personal joy for them.  Having a baby and creating new life is a very wonderful thing.  We know that from our experience.  So, I am sure, after the birth, they were able to have their private moment.

But quickly they were reminded that everything was not going to be normal.  The shepherds came with an outlandish story of the angels telling them to come.  Then there were teh wise men from a far -off place bearing gifts fit for a king.  Then there was Simeon in the temple who would proclaim the greatness of God in this baby.  Mary and Joseph hardly had a time for just those personal moments.

From the very beginning, people saw the promise of God in this little baby.  It was a fulfillment of prophecy to some.  It was new found hope for some others.  It also was a threat to the status quo for others.  Everyone from Mary and Joseph to the Shepherds to the government authorities had a vision of what this baby will bring.

It is two thousand years later.  Was the power of God spent only for this one particularly day 2000 years ago?  Or can we look at this baby and see a new vision of what he means for us today?  How does this baby mean new life for you — now— today — from your pew — from your home — from your world?  Do you see a promise?  Do you see hope?  Or is your life threatened by what this baby could possibly bring — if you let him.  Today is Christmas.  Yes, it is an event that happened more than 2000 years ago.  But it is an event that keeps on happening.  We change, and we need a new Christmas each year to relate to God in a new way.  We need new assurances in the power of God.  This is what this baby brought.  It is what this baby brings.  Merry Jesus Christ-mas.

Pastor Gerry

 

Hope

This morning, we will highlight the hope that Mary and Elizabeth are given as being part of God’s divine drama. As we discussed last week, Mary was joyful about her new role despite the social stigmas that would be wrongly applied to her. But Elizabeth knew what was going on and it was good for them both to share their little secret.
While we think of the joy that Mary had, she also has a huge expectation as she praises God for his son and what God has done for her and what God is going to do for the world with the birth of his son. Mary proclaims that God has looked with favor at the lowly at the expense of the powerful. He is merciful for all those that fear God. He is strong and has scattered the proud. He has fed the hungry and sent the rich away. He has been faithful to his promise to Israel.
God has done a great deal, but it is what God is going to do that gives Mary hope. She sees a new world order—the poor will be blessed and the rich will be sent away. She is hoping for God’s justice. We all might argue with Mary if God’s justice ever came to this world. But God’s justice came by a promise of a new life, a place different then this world where justice can happen—God’s way. Mary sees that as an extension of the life of her son. We see that in the promise that her Son gave us.
The line in O Little Town of Bethlehem says it all: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Pastor Gerry
Fourth Sunday ofAdvent
The Gospel Reading:
Luke 1:39-56
39In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
46And Mary said,
 “My soul magnifies the Lord,
 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
 Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
 and holy is his name.
 50His mercy is for those who fear him
 from generation to generation.
 51He has shown strength with his arm;
 he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
 and lifted up the lowly;
 53he has filled the hungry with good things,
 and sent the rich away empty.
 54He has helped his servant Israel,
 in remembrance of his mercy,
 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
 to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
56And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Mary Yesterday and Today

Sometimes the hardest stories to reflect on are the stories we know so well. The announcement from Angel Gabriel that God has selected Mary to bear his son, is one of them. It is a nice story. Gabriel is well received after his not-so-great first visit to Zechariah. Mary is willing, and in a brief moment sizing up the situation, gives her consent to God.
There is nothing written about Mary’s analytical process. What was she thinking? If I could be so bold to suggest, she new very well what was asked of her. She also knew what would happen to her socially. Any kid today would also size all that up very quickly. She knew what her situation was—things were good with Joseph and it looks like she will get married soon. So, the conclusion was if she didn’t want her life wrecked and to be shamed by everyone that loved her, she should say no.
But all that–and it was a great deal—did not stand against her ability to put her trust in God. Favor with God transcends this world. It is always the better choice, but there are some costs. Mary was willing to take her lumps because she knew God was with her. What else could she do?
How about us? How does Jesus come to us this Christmas — does he come asking us to take our hits? Maybe he comes with a choice and “Going with God” is definitely the better choice, but there is a cost. Maybe, just like what it was for Mary, the first Christmas wasn’t easy. But then again, the world was changed. Then again, Mary’s life was changed. Then again, our lives are changed. Emmanuel is “God with us.” Jesus is Greek for Joshua or “God Saves.”
Pastor Gerry
The Gospel Reading:
Luke 1:26-28
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

God’s great plan is unfolding

The Gospel of Luke starts with a couple of stories of the prequel to Jesus’ birth narrative. These stories highlight the astonishing power and presence of God in setting the stage for Jesus’ birth. We see that individuals were shocked by visits from the Angel Gabriel as he reveals the master plan of God to share his Son with us.
Sometimes we think Bible characters were special people. But I think that these stories show just how human and normal the people who were told of Jesus’ coming orwere personally invited into God’s master plan really are. Zechariah is a high priest. He is old and without children. He has a predominate role in the community as a trusted leader. He rose up the ranks by being skeptical and crafty. (These are not necessarily the skills needed to talk to an Angel.)  When the Angel Gabriel appeared, let’s just say, Zechariah didn’t handle it well. But, as many of God’s partnerships with humans, Zechariah had a heart and in time showed his graciousness and admiration for the great works of the Lord.
In our time when the whole notion of God and of Jesus Christ are questioned, Zechariah seems to be a good biblical character to identify with. We can hold on to what we see and understand and doubt the rest, but over time, what we seem to question is too overwhelming for us to just write off. There is something going on here and we all are a part of it. Enjoy this story that puts each and everyone of us in First Century Palestine.
Pastor Gerry
The Gospel Reading:  Luke 1:5-25
5In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
8Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”
21Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. 22When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.

Mission News

Do you like helping people? Are you looking for meaningful ways to live out your faith by serving others? Do you have ideas for awesome service projects?  Are you looking for a way to get involved at HTLC? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the Mission Team is a good fit for you!!
We are re-imagining this service team and how it can be an interactive, hands-on, vibrant force in our church, our local community, and around the world. Want to learn more??
The team will meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 6:15 pm at the church.
Bring your ideas and your enthusiasm! Everyone is welcome!
Hope to see you there!

Fundraise while you shop

The Holy Trinity Youth is proud to provide the opportunity to purchase gift cards for the holidays. Scrip provides a wide range of popular stores including Amazon, that you can get gift cards for holiday presents. For every card purchased, we will get a rebate that will go to Holy Trinity Youth. It is that simple!

On the Sundays listed below we will have a booth in the Commons to collect gift card orders. We will have a list of gift cards that are available for purchase and we will have order forms to complete. Once you complete a form and provide a check, we can make the order and the cards will be back in 7-10 days.

Gift Card Sunday Sales Dates:

  • November 5
  • November 12
  • November 19
  • November 26
  • December 3
  • December 10
  • December 17

With every card you purchase, we get a rebate which will be used to assist the youth
going to ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston in the Summer of next year.

Be on the look out,

get into the Holiday Spirit

and purchase some gift cards!

Thank You from the Holy Trinity Youth

 

Angel Tree

Since 2012, Holy Trinity and Little Blessings Preschool have partnered with Frederick Douglass Elementary in Leesburg to provide clothing and holiday gifts to children in need. This year our 2017 Angel Tree, located in the church’s Gathering Area, holds 200 ornaments for gifts that the families of 100 children have indicated they need or would enjoy – toys and games as well as basic clothing items such as warm jackets, pajamas, socks, or gloves. Everyone with a generous and loving Christmas spirit is welcome to take one or more of these ornaments!
After you have chosen your ornament(s):
  1. Sign-out the ornament #(s) you have chosen and your contact information.
  2. Fulfill the gift wish(es).
  3. Wrap the gift(s) with the ornament(s) firmly attached and include a gift receipt in the package, particularly for clothing that may need a size exchange.
  4. Return the gift(s) back to the Angel Tree by Sunday, December 10th.
 The gifts will be sorted and delivered to Frederick Douglass Elementary on Monday, December 11th for distribution before the Christmas break.
With thanks and gratitude!
Pat and Roger Bailey/Mission Team
Questions? Email baileyva@mac.com 

Consecration Service & Brunch

November 12, 2017 is Consecration Sunday. During this special stewardship service, we will present our Estimate of Giving Cards in the offering plate. You are encouraged to discern your Estimate of Giving before coming to church, and bring the card with you (click here to download the Estimate of Giving Card). You may also write it up during the offertory. We will celebrate during worship the gifts we offer together in response to God’s love for us. Musically, we will be led by the talents of Ryan and Tucker Benton. After the service, we will continue the Consecration Day Celebration with a Pot Luck Brunch. We invite you to bring a breakfast casserole, fruit, or breakfast pastries to share for the brunch. Join in as we celebrate the things we can do together and look forward to a great morning at Holy Trinity.

Solid with God Youth Retreat

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Youth Retreat

We need youth leaders, people to prepare and deliver dinner on Friday and Saturday night, and people to help with transportation.   Call or email Pastor Gerry today!  703-209-3599  pastorgfj@gmail.com

Nov. 17-19, 2017

Mar-Lu-Ridge

Grades 7-12

For Attendees…

Cost:  $60.00

We will leave on Friday Nov. 17 at 6pm and return 12:00 noon on Sunday, Nov. 19.  Bring payment to the office by Nov. 8.

Things to bring:  Bible, blanket, sheets and pillow, two days of warm clothes, toiletries, sneakers, and a fun attitude.