Sermon – December 17, 2017

Someday at Christmas, by Rev. Mike Holly

The Word

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He 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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The 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. And 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then 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.

Christmas at Bluff Park 2017

Advent2015SermonIconThe Advent and Christmas season is an important and cherished time in the life of the church. We prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child throughout the season of Advent with prayer services, a special Advent Sunday sermon series, and special holiday worship services.

During the Christmas season, we also make time for mission activities like the Festival of the Three Kings, and food pantry distributions that include hams collected during our ‘Ham Mountain’ campaign in November. Our children bring the Christmas story to life with their annual pageant, and the choir ‘raises the roof’ with their annual Christmas on the Bluff concert.

Worship Services

  • Sunday Morning Worship @ 8:45am and 11:00am
  • Advent Morning Prayer – Thursday mornings @ 7:30am in the Sanctuary starting December 7th
  • Lessons and Carols – Sunday, December 3rd, at 8:45am and 11:00am
  • Christmas Eve Morning – Sunday, December 24th @ 10:00am (only one service and no Sunday School)
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship – December 24th @ 4:00pm and 6:00pm in the Sanctuary

Holiday Events and Activities

These activities, events, and worship services are the cherished heart of our congregation’s celebration of Jesus’ birth. They are the source of our beloved holiday memories on the mountain. Please join us this year and build your own holiday memories here at Bluff Park United Methodist Church. We look forward to seeing you.

Sermon – November 27, 2016

BPUMC_Podcast_LogoThe Waiting is the Work, by Rev. John Carl Hastings

Leap of Faith Weekly Prayer

Advent Prayer

Merciful God, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation. Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Word

Matthew 24:36-44

“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Sermon – December 24, 2015

Advent2015SermonIconWhen the Meaning Hits Home“, by Rev. Mike Holly

Mary and Joseph went down from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be registered or counted, Luke’s Gospel tells us this Christmas Eve. Let us not jump beyond what this truly means. Mary, who seems to be about eight to nine months pregnant, is forced by the occupying government (the Roman Empire) to travel a long distance with her fiancé, Joseph. They must go so that they may be counted which will provide Rome well-informed estimates on citizens and families as they placed tax figures upon each citizen. Mary and Joseph are forced to walk a long distance to simply become a number. An unnamed couple from the lineage of David in Bethlehem.
However, Gospel author Luke knows something that Rome does not know! This new family is anything but ordinary. Mary carries within her God’s son. According to Luke, Mary knows that this child will be named Jesus and that he will be special. She knows that he will be carrying out God’s mission here on earth. Mary and Joseph are not just a number. They are not just a young couple from a poor Davidic family. They are the parents of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.
Sometimes in life, each of us can feel unimportant and insignificant. Like we are just a number. This past month, we have been reading through the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel and time and time again each Sunday we discover that all lives matter to God. Seemingly insignificant Mary is favored and chosen. A simple carpenter is seen as special and essential. And today, we read that outcast shepherds are also important to God. No one is without worth in God’s eyes.
You matter dearly to God. You are a child of God. And who you are and how you live your life mean a great deal to Him. We hope that as you come forward to receive Holy Communion and as you light the candle during the song Silent Night, you hear a soft still voice speaking directly to you saying that you matter. God desires from the bottom of his never-ending heart to have you as His own each and every day. The arrival of His own son, born in a manger, on Christmas Day is a reminder that now and forevermore — God is with us; God is for us. Amen

~Mike Holly

The Word

Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Sermon – December 13, 2015

Advent2015SermonIconDrawing Water with Joy“, by Rev. Mike Holly

In today’s Scripture reading, we hear the hopeful words from the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament saying to us that God is our strength and our might and that in Him we should put all of our trust. But notice what Isaiah also says: “I will trust and I will not be afraid.” Placing our trust in God is always difficult because we as human beings cling to both our own autonomy and to our fears. It is difficult to lose control and to hand it over to God because we fear what it will be like to be completely unguarded and vulnerable. And yet, we are given words of comfort time and time again that God is strong and able and infinitely more so than you or I.

While we continue to struggle with this, Isaiah speaks about a day that is coming where we will surely trust in God and when we will joyfully draw water from the wells of salvation. This day Isaiah 12 speaks about is brought up in Isaiah 11 when Isaiah speaks of a time where a shoot will spring up from the root of Jesse. This is a reference to how the lineage of King David was cut off like the trunk of a tree cut down. Seemingly, the life of that tree is over. It must have felt that way to the people of God — that their future was cut off. Isaiah speaks of a day when a future will arrive. The Church understands and confesses that Jesus Christ, son of Mary, is the embodiment of the day Isaiah longs for.

If Jesus Christ is the one promised then the day of promise that Isaiah speaks of has arrived. God has been faithful to His promise. The question for us is this: Are we ready to place our trust in Him?

~Mike Holly

The Word

Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Sermon – December 6, 2015

Advent2015SermonIconPreparing To Receive“, by Rev. Mike Holly

Christmas is almost here. It’s another year and it’s another opportunity for us to remember why it is so significant. The season of Advent is the Church’s gift to help us prepare for the arrival of Jesus Christ, born for us. Angels visit and begin to plant the seeds of hope as they visit Zechariah and Mary. But it is not just hope for these two families. Zechariah and Elizabeth discover that their promised child would prepare the way for Mary’s promised child who would be the Hope for the World.

One strange occurrence in this story is the silence that suddenly strikes Zechariah. His lack of trust when the angel told him of God’s plan rendered him mute until the day that his son, John the Baptist, is born. Once Zechariah writes the name the angel told him to give his son, he breaks into praise. And that is where we find ourselves as we turn to the Scripture today. We read the words that Zechariah sang aloud because they remind us what lies ahead. For God has not forgotten us, no matter how bad things get in this world. We need to remember that our God is the kind of God who breaks into the world returning hope and peace to those who need it.

Because by the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us as Jesus Christ comes to us.

~Mike Holly

The Word

Luke 1:68-79

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Sermon – November 29, 2015

Advent2015SermonIconAnd Yet, There Is Hope“, by Rev. Angela Martin

The Word

Jeremiah 33:14-16

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Sermon – December 14, 2014

Christmas SpiritThe Spirit of Joy“, by Rev. Mike Holly

Sermon Series: The Christmas Spirit

The not-yet-born baby John leaps with joy within the womb of Elizabeth. Life is joyously present in the place that was once barren. For John seems to sense without even being born that something new and wonderful is about to happen through Mary.

Everyone has those moments of doubt and disbelief. Everyone goes through times of sadness, numbness, or even anger. These barren seasons sometimes feel like they will not end. The antidote to these seasons is the hope we have in God through Jesus Christ as well as the joy offered through the kindness and present-ness of our friends, family and others charged to love us and care for us.

Whether you are here in a joyful mood or whether you are here void of joy — know that the child in Mary’s womb is a great gift to all of us. A gift that gives us joy and hope for all of our days.

~Mike Holly

The Word

Luke 1:39-45

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”