Christmas is more than a Promise

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6 December, 2020Pastor Mark SchultzChristmas is more than a

Promises. We all make them and mostly with the best intentions. But then life happens. Circumstances change, the schedule gets busy. We give assurances and we don't always follow through.  We say we will, and we don't. Pressures, deadlines and fatigue sets in. "I'm too tired to read tonight, tomorrow I'll read you two books instead." Promises turn to "we'll see" or "Tomorrow" or "Maybe later." We can find a myriad of reasons why following through with our promise is too inconvenient or impossible. Is it any wonder then that people have trouble believing God's promises today? For when life is hard and results are long in coming, it's easy to think that somehow God has forgotten or even abandoned his promises despite the best of intentions. But behind every promise God makes is his eternal character and the foundation of a relationship that guarantees that Christmas is more than a promise. We'll explore and experience that today.

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“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. Luke 1:68



Christmas is more than a promise. It is a living into the certainty of a new reality - that God is here and on the move to stake his life on our eternity.


1.  When it comes to promises, are you a person of your word or do you tend to have good intentions but don’t follow through? Explain.

2.  What’s the longest you have had to wait for a promise made to you to be fulfilled?

3.  How easy/difficult do you find it to believe God’s promises?

Bible Reading

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

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Christmas is more than a Day

3 January, 2021 Pastor Mark Simpfendorfer

"As 2020 closes, most of us will be pleased to say goodbye to the year, hoping to herald in a new year with expectations of a smoother, lest complicated and more normal 2021" . So began a letter recently received. "I'm glad that's over. Hope this ______ is better." But it is not just the word "year" that we use to fill in the blank is it? Perhaps you insert job or relationship, or school, or church. As we begin a new year, we get caught in the inbetween world of our fears and our longings, between staying where we are and with what we know, and being open to something new and embracing the unknown. The inbetween place is the place where epiphanies occur. That's what we discover in encounter of Herod and the Wisemen. Christmas is more than a day, it is the continuing 'yes' of Christmas that invites us into a new journey that opens our life to eternal possibilities.

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On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11


Christmas is more than a day to remember. It's an invitation to leave behind all your fears and longings, and to offer all of your life in worship to the one who calls you to follow him home, by another road. It's a call on your life that cannot remain unanswered. How will you respond?


Christmas is more than a Silent Night

27 December, 2020 Pastor Mark Schultz

The Headlines are a constant reminder to us of the darkness of this world. "Christmas travel plans in disarray after northern beaches COVID-19 cluster.” "US Coronavirus deaths soar to a new daily record." "Lawyer charged with sexual assault." "Mum accused of stabbing son." "Shock as virus rules change midflight." "Forcibly displaced people tops 80 million globally." "Over 100 million Australians rely on welfare and income support for the first time." The Christmas story in Matthew is no silent night. The world did not get cleaned up, sanitised and made presentable for Christ's birth. Christ is born into a world of darkness and into the stories of real lives where there is fear, oppression, violence, a loss of innocence, sorrow, weeping, struggle and death. But in the midst of this world – a world that seeks to disrupt, deny, displace and destroy our lives - we discover and experience the truth that Christmas is more than a silent night.

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When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13


In any given year and at any given time, the headlines of the world will be repeated. Each time they will try and deny the truth that God is with us. Survival in this world is not a life on the run, but a life that lives, nurtures and grows in the presence of the Holy One who journeys with us and reveals that God is for us and with us.


Christmas is more than a Gift

25 December, 2020 Pastor Mark Schultz

Christmas = Gifts. The two are synonymous. Every child and many adults can't wait to check under the tree at Christmas for a gift nicely wrapped and tagged with their name on it. Every year, we spend hours trying to find the perfect gift for those we love. Yet the truth is, at some point you’ll look for the receipts. You’ll try it on and take it back. The kids will bring you something barely unwrapped but already broken. Christmas as the world knows it is returnable, replaceable, repairable, recyclable. Like any gift, you get to decide if it’s “just for you.” But Christmas is more than a gift of circumstance, season or convenience. Christmas is the fullness of God’s love, the abundance of God’s joy, and the overflow of God’s faithfulness for all that he has made. It is one gracious blessing after another because God in Christ has gifted himself to us to forgive our past, bless our present and ensure our eternity. So today we rejoice in the truth that Christmas is more than a gift.

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From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. John 1:16


Christmas is more than a gift. It's the daily blessing of the Saviour who rewrites our story, renews his promises, revisions family, reorients feelings and revives our lives so that we can re-gift his presence to others.


Christmas is more than a Feeling

20 December, 2020 Pastor Mark Schultz

It doesn’t feel like…

…Christmas, since Grandpa died, mum moved into care or the kids aren’t going to be here…

…we’re really married since she’s been on deployment since the honeymoon …

…it’s our house since we’re still have boxes everywhere…

…it’s my job since I’m still learning the ropes/cleaning up after my predecessor …

…I’ve graduated since I’m not sure what I’ll do next…

…I’m retired since I have the grandkids 3 times a week…

It doesn't feel like… We all live with a sort of internal image of how life should and ought to be. We all have some sense of what an ideal Christmas, family gathering, job, church experience, family, life…is. When the reality doesn’t line up with that image, that ideal…when it doesn't feel quite right or make sense, it's easy for us to dismiss it and move on. Joseph knows that feeling. His fiancée is pregnant and the child is not his and it doesn't make sense and the easiest thing to do is dismiss it. But in dismissing what doesn't make sense or feel right, we might just miss out on something new; the life and opportunities that God wants to birth in us and through us. So join us today as we explore and experience that Christmas is more than a feeling.

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:Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21


Christmas is more than a feeling. It’s a call to enter into the mystery of what we don't understand, to embrace the messy situations that don't feel right and an invitation to walk with obedience and courage into the unexpected, unexplainable life and possibilities that God offers in Jesus.


1 How do you deal with the unexplainable or unexpected in your life?

2 What things in your life have you dismissed because you struggled to make sense of them?

3 What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?


Christmas is more than a Family

13 December, 2020 Pastor Mark Schultz

From coast to coast, the pictures said it all. Flowing tears, screams of joy and lingering hugs filled our airports as families were reunited and generations connected after months of Covid border bans and lockouts. It was an early Christmas gift for so many. For more than any other time, Christmas is when we want family around, to extend traditions, create new memories, share experiences, anchor together in unity and give a sense of belonging. It was no different for Mary when she was chosen to bear God's gift to the world. The first people she wanted to share the news with was family. But what she discovered in the process was that Christmas is so much more than a family. It's a movement of love that changes and revolutionises everything. That's what we will also explore and experience today.

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… the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. Luke 1:49-50


Christmas is more than a family, it's a movement of eternal love that extends from generation to generation, embracing all nations, connecting all people, and creating new moments that bring joy, life and a future that are unimaginable.


1 When you have good news, who do you want to share it with first?

2 What does family mean for you at Christmas?

3 How have the events of this year changed the way you view family?


Christmas is more than a Story

27 November, 2020 Pastor Mark Schultz

Stop the Spread. Santise! It's a message we have heard ad nauseum over 2020. Clean and disinfect surfaces you use often such as benchtops, desks and doorknobs, sanitise yours mobile phones, keys, wallets and work passes. Sanitise, sanitise, sanitise. While it may be a message we have heard anew this year, the truth is that we have been sanitising the message of Christmas for years and perhaps that's the reason that the real message of Christmas is obscured. We have sanitised so well, that perhaps we have unknowingly stopped the spread of the greatest message of all. Our carefully manicured nativities are so squeaky clean and beautifully arranged. Our Christmas trees and twinkling lights and beautifully wrapped presents underneath are picture perfect. The smells of Christmas baking fill our senses and ignite our memories with happiness. But the first Christmas was not a storybook rendition that ends with "happily ever after. It was immersed in darkness, surrounded by uncertainty and contaminated with the stench of sin. Christmas is more than a story...far more and that what we will explore and experience today.

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The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”... Mark 1:1-2


Christmas is more than a story. It is a divinely inspired, purposely designed and radically executed rescue plan to save the world God loves; a world that includes you.


1. What do you hope most for in this Advent/Christmas season?

2. How is Christmas more than a story for you?