Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas In Our Hearts

We began a new series titled "Christmas In Our Hearts" (thanks Downhere). We're focusing on a few of our most treasured US Christmas traditions and refocusing them on Christ. Here is the teaser that we showed the Sunday before the series began.

The Contagious Band

When I was first approached 9 months ago about helping to restart our youth band, I admit I wasn't incredibly enthused...we actually had a youth band a few years ago, but shut it down because the youth group just wasn't that into it. I was leading on stage, so it was more work than what I felt was worth at the time.

But, I've been pleasantly surprised by this experience with The Contagious Band. I decided, instead of helping to lead on stage with a guitar and a mic, I was only going to coach, which has been a great decision. Our band, keys, drummer, electric guitar, bass and two vocals (one male and one female) is made up entirely of students, except for our bass player who is one of our adult youth leaders (and we'll gladly replace him if we find a student who's got what it takes).

And, no joke, these kids are really good. They're still working out the kinks that come with leading worship for the first time, but they've done a great job and it's been a lot of fun to work with them.

Here are a few videos.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Green Room (Willow Arts)

Willow Arts, a ministry of the Willow Creek Association, is running an event for artists and creative type people who serve in the local church called The Green Room. This one-day event will take place on Friday, February 19, 2010.

We're very stoked that Nags Head Church will be one of the satellite host churches for this event. We are looking forward to gathering together artists other churches in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia to learn together.

If you're a creative person in a local church and are interested in attending this event in Nags Head, pleaser leave me a comment or shoot me an email to inquire about a few super-cheap tickets I have in my possession. Visit The Green Room website to check out the schedule and other information.


Unspeakable Joy Setlist

We haven't done anything "special" for Christmas here at Nags Head Church for several years. Of course, we always gather together on Christmas Eve to worship, but it's been a long time since we've had a special gathering in December for Christmas music/worship [you'll never read the word "cantata" on my blog (except for right there)]. Because we've changed the format of some of our other Christmas "traditions" at NHC this year, we thought it would be a great time to try something new.

Here's our (maybe) finalized setlist for our Christmas Concert on Friday night. If you're reading this and planning on coming to Unspeakable Joy on Friday, you may want to stop yourself here just so you can enjoy the fun without knowing what to expect! (songs are italicized)

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Scripture – Isaiah 9:6,7
O Come Let Us Adore Him
My Soul Magnifies The Lord (a new one from Chris Tomlin)
Scripture – Luke 2:8-20
Glory In The Highest (an NHC favorite from Chris Tomlin)
Scripture – Philippians 2:6-11
Silent Night
Hark The Herald Angels
O Holy Night
Christmas Time Is Here (the Vince Guaraldi classic)
Joy To The World
Scripture – Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice (another NHC favorite from Chris Tomlin)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Only One Did That For Me

Christmas is a time of wonder…a time when many of us are reminded of Christmases past, of Christmases from a more innocent time in our lives. For most of us, our mental images of the first Christmas are molded at an early age, with thoughts of silent nights and angelic singing and idyllic shepherds, and lavish gifts of wise men and farm animals all kneeling at the manger. Even as adults, when we hear songs about Jesus birth, and the Baby laying in a manger, we often imagine the scene as one of calm and beauty, of joy and perfection.

But, it’s important that we also remember that God coming to earth was not necessarily as serene as we might like to think.

The Message translation of Philippians 2 describes Jesus’ descension to earth this way:

He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.
Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human.
It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges.
Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

To truly appreciate Christmas we must understand the entire story of Christmas, the beautiful and the ugly. Although it was certainly a holy night, it probably wasn’t quiet, being born in a stable with farm animals. It definitely wasn’t clean, and it probably didn’t smell very nice either. The baby Jesus more than likely spent just as much time crying as he did asleep in the hay.

For Christ to humble Himself to become human, born to homeless parents, placed in the feeding trough of filthy animals, acknowledged only by the lowliest outcasts of society, pursued as a criminal to be put to required an incredibly amount of sacrifice and humility, poured out from a heart of love and mercy.

How many kings have stepped down from their thrones, how many lords have abandoned their homes, how many greats have become the least for you and me? Only one did that for me.*

As we share the story of Christmas with others this year, as we paint the picture of that nativity scene, let’s not forget to tell of the sacrifice that the God of the universe made for us.


*Borrowed from the song, "How Many Kings" by Downhere.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Recent Graphics

Here are a few graphics I've produced recently. As always, istockphoto and Illustrator are my friends!

Title PPT graphic for a recent sermon series on Holiness.
Title PPT graphic for a recent testimony by my friend Sam.
Poster for Thanksgiving Worship Gathering.
Poster for our upcoming Christmas Concert.
Title PPT graphic for our current sermon series on Christmas Traditions.