Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Pastors Note

Pastor’s Note

Are you the favored child in your Note or was it another sibling of yours? Did you grow up with a notion that one of your siblings was the favorite? What’s it like to be the favorite? What’s it like to NOT be the favorite? We each respond well to being the favorite (being favored), or so I would guess. But how does that work with God? How does the idea of favorites work with humans?

In reading an article from on favoritism and it had an interesting insight: 

What is critical is that all children trust that they are loved and appreciated for what makes them special. Love is unconditional, whereas favoritism is not. Favoritism depends upon children behaving in ways that gratifies parents.

We are diving into Luke 1 this weekend; Mary is referred to by the angel Gabriel as being a favorite of God. That could be very disruptive to the idea of “good news” if you reflect on the article from What Ellen Weber Libby Ph.D. is pointing out matches a view that I always grew up with; I’m guessing most Americans and most humans in this world attain to this view of “favorites:” the child or person earns that status of “favorite.”

Does that match God’s truth? I hope not but let’s not base this on my feeling or my thoughts but on God’s true and inspired Word.

Luke 1:26-30

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” 

OK, Mary is the “favored one.” She’s the favorite. What’s wrong with applying my cultural understanding of favorite to this reading? It’s completely upside down and backwards. Verse 28 literally means that Mary is favored. She is the recipient of God grace. But wait, that seems to already indicate a discrepancy from the cultural view of favorites (favorites must earn that status). If you concluded that, based on the word, “grace” or “underserved love,” you would be correct.

Verse 30 helps to round out our understanding of “favored one.”  “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). That phrase, “you have found . . .” betrays what the REAL meaning of favorite is. Real favorites of God are those who . . . 

  1. sense their undeserving nature, they see that their attraction to ungodly ideas is very real, they have calculated all the misgivings and hurtful posture

  2. And they yearn for God to give them what they don’t deserve.

This was a good picture of Mary. She had a heart that was prepared for Gabriel’s words and God’s gift. She found herself very dependent and had search out His Scriptures to see if God would favor such an undeserving person as herself. Jackpot - she found it!

That’s what favorite means in God’s realm. You don’t earn it. You live for the grace that God has promised. Mary did. She found God’s favor in the tapestry of His Ancient letters to His people. She had heard the words from the parchment of Isaiah and David’s penning of some Psalms. She learned more and more of her undeserving nature and of God’s Very Generous nature. She liked what she found and by faith, she held onto it.

In short, that is what “finding favor with God” means for her and also for us. So here are my final questions for you so that you can sit comfortably in the same position as Mary:

One: Do you know about His grace? If you don’t, search the Scriptures.

Two: Do you trust His grace? If you don’t, search the Scriptures.

Three: Do you live trusting His grace? If you don’t, search the Scriptures.

Blessings to you, highly favored one!

Bible Reading Challenge 10/27



Galatians 4:4-6
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Advent Service at St. John


Please join us for our Mid-week Advent Service at St. John,
Wednesday, December 8th, at 7:00 pm

(This will be the only Wednesday Advent Service at St. John)

SCLA Homestays are Needed!

Homestays are needed for international students who had last-minute changes in plans. If you are interested in hosting a student or two from Saturday, December 18 through Saturday, January 1
Sign-up Here.  A $600 stipend per student is granted for hosting. Contact Tamara Julian,  ( or (651) 455-1521 ext. 1118) with any questions. Background checks are required and provided by SCLA.

Bible Reading Challenge 9/27



Isaiah 61:1-4
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
    because the LORD has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD'S favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the LORD
    for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.


Monday, December 6, 2021

Bible Reading Challenge 8/27





Isaiah 39:5-40:11
Awake, awake, Zion,
    clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor,
    Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled
    will not enter you again.
2 Shake off your dust;
    rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
    Daughter Zion, now a captive.

3 For this is what the LORD says:

“You were sold for nothing,
    and without money you will be redeemed.”

4 For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:

“At first my people went down to Egypt to live;
    lately, Assyria has oppressed them.

5 “And now what do I have here?” declares the LORD.

“For my people have been taken away for nothing,
    and those who rule them mock,”
declares the LORD.
“And all day long
    my name is constantly blasphemed.
6 Therefore my people will know my name;
    therefore in that day they will know
that it is I who foretold it.
    Yes, it is I.”

7 How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”
8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
    together they shout for joy.
When the LORD returns to Zion,
    they will see it with their own eyes.
9 Burst into songs of joy together,
    you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people,
    he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God.

11 Depart, depart, go out from there!
    Touch no unclean thing!
Come out from it and be pure,
    you who carry the articles of the LORD'S house.
12 But you will not leave in haste
    or go in flight;
for the LORD will go before you,
    the God of Israel will be your rear guard

You shall not go out with haste

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Bible Reading Challenge 7/27




Isaiah 39:5-40:11
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORDAnd some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

“The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

40 Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD'S hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion,
    go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
    lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
    say to the towns of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
    and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.