Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Maranatha! Come Lord – Come!

Luke 2:9

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Life ChangeAs Advent comes to a close in the next few days – for yet another year – do we have a better grasp on its meaning? Advent is more than the period of time that begins with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and runs through Christmas Eve. It is more than merely a time of awaiting the coming of the baby Jesus in the manger. It is more than buying gifts and preparing for Christmas parties.

In the fourth century – when they began to celebrate Advent – it was also a time of remembering and waiting on the Lord’s return. The coming or return of the Messiah. Not just the babe in the manger – but the return of Christ – the ruling King.

Have you ever heard the term Maranatha? If you attend First Church (or any of the churches I have been blessed to serve in 40 plus years of ministry) you have heard it used numerous times in sermons and prayers. It is an Aramaic term that literally means – Come Lord – Come – and was often used to invite our Lord’s return. Continue reading

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December 21, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Do You See Jesus 4

Isaiah 42:8

I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.

Life ChangeFor the next few weeks – from time to time – I will be posting comments by our readers. I’d like folks to share with me where they see Jesus this Advent-Christmas Season. Just write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring you joy this Christmas season in your relationship with Jesus and with First Church if this is your home church (or your home church)? I’m also asking where you see Jesus in your church family? Also – what draws you to First Church (or your home church). You don’t have to tackle all of these – but say something about the joy you feel this Christmas.

The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season (we all need some of that – right?). I will share your thoughts anonymously. I will try to post a comment as often as they come in so send your comments. The posts will go up around 9 am each day – just like our regular devotional thoughts. Continue reading

December 18, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maranatha! Come Lord, Come!

Luke 2:9

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Life ChangeDo you have any idea why we celebrate Advent – or don’t? Advent is more than the period of time that begins with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and runs through Christmas Eve. It is more than merely a time of awaiting the coming of the baby Jesus in the manger. In the fourth century when they began to celebrate Advent – it was also a time of remembering and waiting on the Lord’s return.

Have you ever heard the term Maranatha? It is an Aramaic term that literally means – Come Lord, Come – and was often used to invite our Lord’s return. I have used it for years on this blog page and in my e-mails (at times). Continue reading

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Eve 2017 Is Coming!

John 1:14 – KJV

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Well – here we are – the week of Christmas. I hope that everyone has made their plans to celebrate Christmas with family and/or with friends. I hope you also plan to share some of Christmas Eve with your church family. At First Church we are planning our Christmas Eve services in detail this week. We’d love to hear back from you about the services we are offering and how they meet or don’t meet your needs and the needs of your family. This feedback will help us as we plan services for next year. Please share next week after the services.

On Christmas Eve – December 24th for those who might not remember – lol – we will offer 4 services (this year Christmas Eve is on a Sunday). The same sermon will be preached at the first three services (our regular Sunday services) with a different sermon preached at the 8 pm service. All except the 5 pm service will be held in the Sanctuary. Continue reading

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There Is Now No Condemnation

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Easter has come and gone for another year. Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this. Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until next Easter or maybe Christmas Eve.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folk all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some folks means once or twice a month these days – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

April 17, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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