I stand at the door and knock. Revelation 3:20
Before Jesus’ first Advent, just like now before His second Advent, a lot of waiting, preparation, and prophecying happened. Often, things didn’t go well as the centuries unrolled, one after another. People tired of waiting and preparing, and they began to doubt prophecy. At last, through the Old Testament’s final prophet, Malachi, God said this: “‘Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter His Temple–yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the One you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on His way!’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive His appearance? He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take His place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.'” Malachi 3:1-4 Message
Waiting is hard. In his introduction to Malachi, Eugene Peterson notes that during times of crisis, God and our relationship with God is on the front page. But during humdrum times, when things are “normal,” our interest in God is crowded to the margins of our lives and we become preoccupied with ourselves. “‘Religion’ during such times is trivialized into asking ‘God-questions,'” Peterson says, “calling God into question or complaining about Him, treating the worship of God as a mere hobby or diversion . . . going about our usual activities as if God were not involved in such dailiness.'” (ibid,introduction to Malachi) Here’s the worst part: Jesus knocks at our door, but we don’t hear Him.
“Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a Christmas sermon. “Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. We want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. Greedy eyes are soon disappointed when what they saw as luscious fruit is sour to the taste. In disappointment and disgust they throw it away. . . . The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity. Who has not felt the anxieties of waiting for the declaration of friendship or love? The greatest, the deepest, the most tender experiences in all the world demand patient waiting. This waiting is not in emotional turmoil, but gently growing, the emergence of spring, like God’s laws, like the germinating of a seed.” (faithgateway.com)
Mind you, we are not to wait idly! We’re to prepare the way! Jesus’ Uncle Zechariah prophesied, when his son John was born:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them . . .
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.” Luke 1: 68, 76-79.”
Jesus, your Savior, knocks at your heart’s door, to make your heart His own, to win your love. He asks for help in the form of a beggar, a down-and-out, a man in ragged clothes, someone who is sick, even a criminal in need of our love. He meets you in every person you encounter. Be still . . . hear and know Him . . . open your door!
Pastor James Winegardner continues his sermon series, preaching from Mark 9 during our 9:00 and 11:30 Sanctuary worship services. Pathfinders will provide our Scripture focus, reciting from memory Luke 1:26-38 (Tomas Lopez) and Luke 2:1-21 (Daniel Mendoza). Director of Discipleship Mary Ellen Winegardner will tell our children’s story. Student Pastor Hazel Marroquin will call for the offering, which will support Adventist Community Services. Head Elder Ken Jones will offer prayer. Our Keene Worship Team will provide our worship music. Jimmy Aiken will serve as Deacon in Charge.
Young Adults, Buster Swoopes, Assistant Professor of Religion at Southwestern Adventist University, will be your speaker at The Middle Service in the Fellowship Hall at 10:00. Great music, fellowship, and food await you. Remember to bring an unwrapped new toy ($5.00 to $15.00 in price range) before December 15!
Angel Tree – Please grant a wish for a child in foster care. Pick a name on the Angel tree or at the information desk. Follow the directions on the paper and return to the church office or the CK Family Services office by December 10. Info: Reneé Tyler at 817-658-3198.
RAINCHECK on CAROLING! The Family Ministries caroling outing for today has been postponed due to the weather. We will go out NEXT Sunday, December 16 from 5:30-7:30 PM instead. Come and spread Christmas cheer and hope!
- A memorial service for Walter Herrell, husband of Carol Herrell and father of Debbie Azarowicz and Jon Herrell, will be held in our Chapel today at 3:00 PM.
- A “Celebration of Life” for Carol Bradley, Steve Bradley’s mother, who passed away on Thursday, will be held at Burleson Church Sunday, December 23, from 2:00-4:00 PM.
Wednesday night Bible Study will not meet this coming week. We hope to see you in the Sanctuary at the Chisholm Trail Academy Christmas Concert (7:00 PM)!
“Almost There” – A Christmas Musical! Keene Worship Choir, directed by Juanita Goodlow Browder, will present two performances of their not-to-be-missed Christmas concert in our Sanctuary! Choose between Friday, December 14, 7:00 PM and Sabbath, December 15, 5:30 PM—or come to both concerts!
Keene Community Food Bank holds its second food bank on December 15 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM in the Annex parking lot! Our November Food Bank was a great blessing to our community and to our church family who came out to meet and help our neighbors. Thank you, volunteers! Let’s do it again!
Warmth for our homeless Friends! We are collecting new or fairly new winter jackets, gloves, hats, socks, and sleeping bags for our homeless ministry December drive. Please drop off your gifts at the church office!
We’d like to provide group meals with Meals on Wheels once a week at the Annex. They have vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. To qualify, we need at least 20 guests. Sign up at the church office and enjoy!
Southwestern Adventist University
- University Christmas Concert – Friday night, December 7, 7:30 PM in our Sanctuary
- University Singers Concert – “The Brightest and the Best” – Saturday night, December 8, 6:00 PM, St. Vincent’s Cathedral, 1300 Forest Ridge Drive, Bedford, TX. Free admission! Donations accepted.
Keene Adventist Elementary School
- Christmas Piano Recitals – Sunday, Dec. 9, 1:00 and 3:00 PM, MaBee Center.
- Bands and Marimbas Christmas Concert – Sunday, Dec. 16, 3:00 PM, KAES Gym.
Chisholm Trail Academy
- CTA Sophomore Family Trivia Night and Silent Auction Fund-raiser – December 8, 7:00 to 10:00 PM, Academy Gym! $25/Trivia Team. No entrance fee. Food, fun, games, and prizes!
- CTA Christmas Concert – Wednesday, December 12, 7:00 PM, in the Sanctuary.
You’ll love the Christmas Museum bake sale on Sunday, December 9, 12:00 – 4:00 PM at the Hopps Museum (across from the Mizpah Gate). Come and get your holiday baked goods!
Brazos Chamber Orchestra offers free concerts to Cleburne and surrounding communities. For Christmas, the Orchestra will play a mixture of season favorites including the beautiful “Stille Nacht’. This concert always fills up, so come early, sit back and enjoy an evening of live orchestra music, under the direction of Maestro David R. Anavitarte. Date: Tuesday, December 11, 7:30 PM, Field Street Baptist Church, 201 N Field Street, Cleburne. Next Spring, Brazos Chamber Orchestra will present another concert in the same location on April 23, 7:30 PM. The concerts are free. Donations are accepted.
The family of Jack and Rachel Robinette invites you to celebrate their 60th anniversary with them at an open house reception at Mountain Coffee, 219 Hillcrest in Keene on December 23 from 6:30-8:30 PM.
This year’s Christmas tree offering will support our air conditioning project. Find the red gift envelope in your pew or at the welcome desk! Look for the three asterisks in your bulletin program to know when to go forward to put your gift on the tree! Thank you!
FY 2018/2019 Ministries and Operations budget: $767,808.00
Donations Needed by December 31, 2018 – $383,904.00
Donations Received through December 1, 2018 – $298.966.86
Amount still needed this month – $84,937.14
Sanctuary HVAC (air conditioning) total cost – $550,000.00
Sanctuary HVAC project donations received through Dec. 1/18 – $237,681.77
Amount still needed – $312,318.23
KAES gymnasium project total cost target (phase 1) – $750,000.00
Keene Church donations received through Dec. 1, 2018 – $ 209,392.58
Today’s offering: Adventist Community Services
Next week: Keene Church Ministries and Operations
Last week we shared a snippet from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians with you. We thought you might also appreciate his happy salutation to the Philippians, whom he calls his partners in the Gospel, preparing the road for others as we wait for Jesus’ return:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:3-11
We, too, pray for you with thanks and joy, Forever Family. Happy Sabbath!
Your Keene Church Pastors
We know not the time when He cometh,
At even, or midnight, or morn;
It may be at deepening twilight,
It may be at earliest dawn.
He bids us to watch and be ready,
Nor suffer our lights to grow dim;
That when He shall come, He may find us,
All waiting and watching for Him.
Waiting and watching,
Waiting and watching;
Waiting and watching,
Still waiting and watching for Thee.
I think of His wonderful pity,
The price our salvation hath cost;
He left the bright mansions of glory
To suffer and die for the lost.
And sometimes I think it will please Him,
When those whom He died to redeem,
Rejoice in the hope of His coming
By waiting and watching for Him. O Jesus, my loving Redeemer,
Thou knowest I cherish as dear
The hope that mine eyes shall behold Thee,
That I shall thine own welcome hear!
If to some as a Judge thou appearest,
Who forth from Thy presence would flee,
A Friend most beloved I’ll greet Thee,
I’m waiting and watching for Thee.
(Sarepta M.I Henry)