Advent Series, Celebrations, & Service Opportunities

The season of Advent calls us away from our naturally harried pace, and the frustration and cynicism that grow up around any unexamined self-focus in our lives. Advent is a two-sided celebration: one of remembrance & satisfaction and one of anticipation & yearning. It pushes us to look beyond ourselves and our daily grind.

This year, we mark Advent with a sermon series, gathered celebrations, and service. Our goal is not to fill your calendar, but provide space to serve, rejoice, and breathe. 

Advent Sermon Series: The Incarnation and Place


Jesus became really and fully human...not just theoretically human. To be human is to be connected, relational, physically contextual and embedded. In the incarnation, the eternally existent, divine, and glorious Son of God became truly human, and so part of a particular cultural, historical, and religious moment. He submitted himself to life rooted in social, economic, and political realities. These things weren't just coincidental to the place he inhabited. They were essential, constituent parts of it. While he challenged many of the structures of his day, he did not live a life abstracted from them. 

Along the way, we (christians and non-christians alike) have forgotten how to commit. Thinking we were aiming upward, we have become overly mobile. Our transience has become an inability to see, love, and live in a particular place. As a result, we are not affected and we do not affect our places the way we should. We need to recover a way of being as fully contextual, fully rooted...fully human.

Our own redemption and the ministry into which Jesus leads us do not make us less connected or less committed to our context. For the four Sundays of Advent, we will take break from our current series in Matthew's Gospel, and consider what it means to recover our being placed. What has the incarnation of Christ done to connect and root us? What does it look like to recover lives that are more human by being deeply "placed."


Advent Celebration

Advent Dinners: Sign up here, and plan to be part of our smaller weekend gatherings. Several Families have offered to open their homes, so that we can catch our breath together, reflect, sing, and eat together to celebrate the mystery and goodness of the Incarnation.

Christmas Eve: Mark your calendar and plan to join us for a joint Christmas Eve merriment with two other churches. We'll be with our friends at Intown Church and Bread & Wine. Time & Location details are coming soon, but we're planning to meet for an early evening service of carols & celebration at Warner Pacific College (SE Division & 68th).


Advent Service

During Advent this year, we have two opportunities to spend less time and money on ourselves and serve others:

Refugee Hygiene Kits: Medical Teams International needs hygiene kits for Syrian refugees entering Greece, and we want to see how many we can put together by December 17. The work is not hard, but the details are important. Get all the details & read more here.

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Advent Conspiracy: Community of Hope, a local transitional housing ministry with whom we've partnered in the past, could use our help financially. They're asking churches like us to consider concerted efforts among members to spend less on gifts for ourselves, and give more to those in need of assistance. Read more here.


Current Series: The Gospel of Matthew - Jesus in His Own Rhythm

"Christianity is not a philosophy that can be learned separate from those who embody it. ... the gospel is known is by one person being for another person the story of Christ. Jesus summons the disciples to him, and, so summoned, they become for us the witnesses who make it possible for us to be messengers of [his] kingdom. The disciples are not impressive people, but then, neither are we. Their mission, as well as our own, is not to call attention to ourselves but to Jesus and the kingdom."

- Stanley Hauerwas

In our current series of sermons, we are considering Jesus on his own terms, in the rhythm he establishes through his own life and proclamations in the Gospel of Matthew. We always read, interpret, question, and inhabit the narrative of redemption as a community. This includes our time spent together as a church community, the ways we are shaped by the city of Portland where we live, and the broader Christian community around the globe and through history. We contemplate Matthew's Gospel in conversation with several old and new sources including St. Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Frederick Dale Bruner, Stanley Hauerwas, and Craig Keener. 

Observing and listening to Jesus in Matthew's Gospel, several rhythms emerge:


Gathering & Sending 

Jesus' call for belonging is also directional, and it has a rhythm. Like the rhythm of breathing in and out, Jesus calls followers in, and then sends them out. He calls all of us from different places to find life in him & with him. Many of us come in confused, despairing, hurt & broken, and Jesus gathers us for healing and rest. Some of us come to Jesus proud & self-sufficient; too satisfied with our little versions of (self-) righteousness. And to us, Jesus calls us in to repent of these self-imposed others-judging & self-abusive burdens. For all of us, to be drawn in - called in to encounter the mystery of Jesus - inevitably leads to being sent back out into the world with the redemptive joy & hope of Jesus.


Questioning & Believing

Jesus' call to follow him is directional; not static. He calls us to follow, imitate, trust, and be honest with our questions. Throughout the narratives of Jesus' life & work, we find people asking questions of him - some out of curiosity, some full of hope, and some to keep him at arms length. And to all of them, as to all of us, Jesus calls us to honesty over proud profession. Even Jesus' first followers experienced doubt. At times they puzzled and questioned; sometimes they even protested trying to make sense of him. In the end, those who doubted deeply, came to even deeper trust after leaning into him with their questions. To bring questions & doubts to Jesus can often be and act of faith. 


Stretching & Rest

We all encounter the same Jesus a little differently. We enter into conversation with his story from the directions of our own varied stories. In these varied encounters, one thing is consistently true. Jesus stretches us. Thankfully his stretching has rhythm too. In a gracious wisdom, Jesus stretched & pushed and then let off. At times he pushed hard on things (and people) that needed confrontation and change, but in the end, he brought unexpected rest.


Join us as we encounter &  follow Jesus on his own terms. We will continue together asking questions, wrestling with our own stories, trusting, being stretched and finding rest.