Wednesday, November 29th (Read time: 10 min 36 sec)
As we step into Advent, a season of preparing our hearts for the celebration of Jesus, our Lord and King, we ponder, “What Gift Do You Bring?” Inspired by those chosen by God in the birth of His Son, each offered a timeless gift of themselves to be forever woven into one of history’s most significant events. Now through Christmas week, you’ll receive two 5-10 minute devotional reading—one in the newsletter and another on Friday mornings. Written by members of Hope Church, these reflections delve into characters from our “What Gift Do You Bring” sermon series. May these reflections guide you beyond the hustle and bustle, allowing you to truly embrace the reality of Christmas—Christ has come, and Christ will come again.
This Week at a Glance:
- 7 PM Pursuit Worship Nights
- 10:30 AM Worship Service (Sunday Worship Set Playlist)
- 5 PM Converge Student Ministry
- 5 PM Young Adults
- 7 PM Adults Home Group
- 6:30 AM Men’s Bible Study (Hope Annex)
- 10 AM Women’s Bible Study (Hope Annex)
- 6:30 PM Bread of Life Class (Hope Annex)
Things to Know:
Super Surge Christmas Party [Friday | Dec. 8th | 2 PM]
Help us celebrate the GOOD NEWS of Jesus with kids in our community at the Super Suge Christmas Party. Ways you can serve: loading up at 1:30 PM (Annex), setup at 2 PM (Hidden Falls Clubhouse), Christmas Party 2:30 – 3:30 PM (Hidden Falls Clubhouse). See Paul Loda for more ways you can help serve or for how to get involved with Super Surge in the Spring.
Women of Hope Christmas Party [Saturday | Dec. 9th | 10 AM]
It’s that wonderful time of the year once again—the annual Women of Hope Christmas Party! Don’t miss THE event we’ll be talking about well into the New Year. Pick out your favorite Christmas attire, whether it’s cozy PJs, festive sweaters, or even shepherd’s robes, and join in the fun. Bring your favorite holiday snack to share for brunch and don’t forget to bring a gift for our (in)FAMOUS White Elephant Gift Exchange.
Save the Date
- Women of Hope Christmas Party – Saturday, Dec. 9th, 10 AM
- Converge Christmas Mystery Party *DATE CHAGNE* – Sunday, Dec. 10th, 5 – 8 PM
- Need Prayer? Ask Me! – Saturday, Dec. 16th, 12 – 2 PM
- Hope Kids Christmas Performance – Sunday, Dec. 17th, during Sunday service
- Hope Church Christmas Service – Sunday, Dec. 24th, 10:30 AM
Email hello@HopeChurchATL.com for information on all upcoming events!
NEeds | Prayer Requests | celebrations
- David Sprecher – recovery from medical procedure
Email hello@HopeChurchATL.com with needs/prayer requests or contact us to learn how to help or send a note of encouragement.
What gift do you bring?
Mary – The Mother of Jesus
By Paul Loda
When we contemplate Jesus, we recognize Him as God’s Son—the most significant person ever born on Earth. Equally, He was Mary’s son. Mary, chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb, must have been extraordinary. God bestowed upon her the most profound gift, knowing her heart to be one of humility, courage, and righteousness. Her fearlessness to face multiple tests is evident.
Consider the story of the woman caught in adultery; a woman in Mary’s situation would have faced stoning. And what was Mary’s situation? She was a pregnant woman who was unmarried. Can you fathom the thoughts that raced through Mary’s mind as she proceeded with God’s plan? What was she thinking when the angel Gabriel proclaimed her blessed and favored by God, destined to conceive the Son of God through divine impregnation?
The Gospel of Luke provides insight into Mary’s thoughts. In Luke Chapter 1, Mary asks, “How can this be?” Her mind was greatly troubled and disturbed, wondering about the nature of Gabriel’s greeting. I’m sure she wondered how she could be picked for this amazing event, but also how? How would she become pregnant without intimacy with a man? Amidst her questions and puzzlement, she said yes, declaring, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)
I wonder if she had doubts about what had just happened and what would happen. After Gabriel’s departure, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, who, in her old age, was also pregnant through an act of God. As Mary approached, Elizabeth’s baby leaped for joy, confirming the reality of the extraordinary event. Mary’s doubt dissipated; it was happening just as Gabriel had said. This was the confirmation. There was no going back. It was real.
Can you imagine what it was like when Mary told Joseph? I believe he was shocked and afraid. Should he still marry her? Matthews’s gospel tells us he was going to divorce her privately. This was so no harm would come to her. Surely, Mary began to doubt Joseph’s trust, devotion, and love for her. But God brought him into alignment through a dream, leading them to marry and eventually travel to Bethlehem, where Mary was ready to give birth. Even under these unbelievable circumstances, Joseph stayed by her side. Joseph’s incredibly generous gift of loyalty and devotion must have helped Mary overcome any fear or doubt that had crept in.
In the humble setting of a stable, Jesus was born. If I were Mary, I would have wondered how the child she bore could really be the Son of God. How could God’s son be born in a stable, not a palace? Even with everything Mary had experienced thus far, could there be reason to doubt once again? But then at their doorstep stood shepherds and later wise men from afar, proclaiming Jesus, her son, to be the Savior Israel had long been awaiting.
Throughout moments of doubt, God remained faithful to Mary, bringing others into her life and gifting her with faith. Mary, a wise woman, must have had the confidence to proceed after Gabriel’s visit, knowing God’s plan extended beyond Jesus’s birth. But God used others to help her faith along the way.
Luke 2:19 tells us Mary treasured and pondered everything in her heart. It makes me wonder if she knew more was to come. When Mary and Joseph had Jesus dedicated at the Temple, in accordance with Jewish Law and practice, they were approached by a man named Simeon. Simeon told Mary of Jesus’s destiny and the sword that would pierce Mary’s soul. Despite not comprehending all her son would face or accomplish, God sent people to Mary to declare His purposes and will for His son, providing her with faith for the future.
Mary was indeed a woman of faith, courage, and honor. She accepted God’s invitation to bear His son. If she had not, who knows what might have happened? But the gift of her life and faith, which impacts every believer, is one we should emulate. Amidst doubt and uncertainty, like Mary, we can choose to trust. So, as we celebrate Christmas this year, it is fitting to remember and honor Mary. Let’s give thanks to God for her life and her story. Her story, not merely a tale, was a real girl’s life, recorded under the direction of the Holy Spirit and shared with us to encourage our faith.
Take a moment to reflect on the people whom God has brought into your life to encourage your faith. Have there been those who faced similar challenges, letting you know that you are not alone? Think about those who remained steadfast and devoted during uncertain times. Were there moments when people unexpectedly appeared, dispelling doubt just when you needed it? Reflect on those who uplift you with encouraging words and speak into the possibilities of your future. Take a pause and express your gratitude. Consider reaching out to them to let them know.
Also, consider how you can be a source of encouragement for others. How can you lead a life that produces faith in those around you? Together, let’s trust God for extraordinary things and miraculous possibilities—both for ourselves and for one another. Just as Mary responded to God’s call with, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said,” let’s embrace a spirit of willingness and faith.
Missed this part one in our What Gift Will You Bring Christmas series? Watch Here…