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Most of you reading this know of my love for camping and sleeping under the stars. I’ve dialed in my hammock and sleeping bag and will only retreat inside when the weather gets wet or snowy. Sleeping under the stars, out in the open is beautiful but also makes you aware of every sound and visitor to your camp. I’ve been blown around by winds and seen showers of shooting stars. I’ve had armadillos and deer, raccoons and rabbits, mice and mongrels come sniffing around after dark, but I’ve never seen an angel with a message accompanied by a celestial choir. Not even close. Since I know how hearing something rooting around in the dark, especially in bear country, can get your blood pumping, I can only imagine that seeing what the shepherds saw would get your immediate attention. Would we believe the message? Could we get over the terror to understand the meaning?

Let’s dig in this 3rd week of Advent and see what we can find.

Grace and peace y’all,
John Ray and the teaching team

Big Idea

Joy is complicated. Joy is a promise, a gift and in some ways the goal of our life in God.

Take Away

Some people easily express joy outwardly, while others nurture it inwardly. Some people don’t feel worthy to experience it and others don’t even know what it means. The birth of Jesus is a, if not THE, “joyful event” that can overcome our sadness and fulfill our longings.


Luke 2:8-20 (NET)

How does this fit with Belong, Become, Believe?

At Grace, the message that brought such great joy compels us to share it with others and invite them to fully share in it so they can belong to a community of those who embrace it. This practice helps us to experience the fullness of the message and become more and more formed by it. All of this informs and forms what we confess to believe.

What’s Next?

Christmas Eve Candlelight service up on Sequoyah.

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Grace Church of Northwest Arkansas is a nondenominational community of Christ-followers committed to loving others, living out the Gospel and serving in Jesus’ name. We stand with the marginalized and welcome folks of all races, genders, and sexual orientations.

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