A Deal Too Good to be True?

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (Luke 2:10)

Today’s “Low” Advent Devotion from John Pavlovitz makes us wonder … is everything that was promised to the shepherds by the angels, “too good to be true?”

Good News? Great Joy? All People? Really?

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and found yourself watching some hyper-aggressive sales pitch on an infomercial that has caught your attention and will not let go? Usually, it’s too good to be true.   

Then, a few weeks later, the product that you couldn’t resist buying in the middle of the night turns out to be completely underwhelming. And, once again, you tell yourself, these infomercials are not to be trusted. Like everything else, they’re just too good to be true.

That was the same dilemma that the shepherds faced that fateful night out in the fields watching their sheep. First, the messengers for this infomercial were angels. So, immediately, you ask, “Is this too good to be true?” Second, the angels tell you not be afraid. Think about it. Whenever anyone says to you, “don’t be afraid,” you know you should be afraid! And then the real pitch. The angels are delivering a) Good News; b) of Great Joy; c) for All People.

Is that something you’re “buying” this year for Christmas? Have you ever thought that those angels in the fields watching their sheep by night are really just metaphors for our own lives? Aren’t we all, in a way, living and sleeping with all our responsibilities in life (just like shepherds watching their sheep)? Can you even imagine that things could be different … that this “too good to be true” is really true?  

Are you curious enough to find out this Advent & Christmas season?

Are you willing to seek out the angels, to not be afraid to believe in something that has always sounded like a pipe dream … something too good to be true?

Are you ready to “come out” as a Jesus follower this year? If not, what is it that you’re waiting for? Isn’t this the year you have been waiting for. Isn’t it just the right time in your life to come out and reveal your faith in God, and in God’s plan for you? Isn’t NOW the time to follow Jesus?

Good News. Great Joy. All People.


This week, look for direct, tangible, and close ways to bring news that is good, and joy that is great, to all people in your path.

And in that way, all God’s promises can come true.

It’s really up to you. Not anybody else.

Is this the season you channel your best inner shepherd, and really believe that “too good to be true” doesn’t apply when it comes to God. With God, it’s all true. Believe.

Good News. Great Joy. All People.

Do not be afraid.

Advent Blessings to All,                                                                                
Pastor Bob <><





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Beginning Sunday, November 27th, we will embark on a journey through Advent together. The centerpiece of our journey will be the wonderful Advent devotional written by John Pavlovitz called “Low.”

Using “Low” as our guide, we will be offering you opportunities to deepen your Advent journey through daily devotionals, weekly zoom call, weekly discussion group, and more. Plus, each Sunday message and the weekly Vision article will also be following the “Low” devotional.

I wonder what kind of Christmas we could create together if we all journeyed together. I hope each of you can make a way to join in.

Copies of “Low” will be available at church starting this Sunday. Or, you can order your own copy. Here is the link to buy “Low” through Amazon:

Low: An Honest Advent Devotional: Pavlovitz, John (amazon.com)

More specifics about the Advent journey offerings will be announced soon. But for now, you can get a head start by reading the Introduction of “Low,” which is reprinted below.

Along for the ride, Pastor Bob

INTRODUCTION to “Low” by John Pavlovitz

It’s often said that we see our lives with perfect clarity as we look back at them: hindsight improves our vision and clarifies all that once was cloudy. This isn’t always as true of our spiritual journeys. Sometimes our place in time is actually a barrier to really getting close enough to truly feel it all. We naturally read the Bible retrospectively. We encounter our faith tradition in the rearview mirror of history, and as a result we approach it knowing how the story ends.

This often leads us to sanitize the Gospels—to obscure the gritty, messy reality of those moments as they were experienced in real time. It actually squeezes out the surprise and the wonder and the unbelievable-ness of it all. We tend to over spiritualize the events being described, and this places a distance between them and us. We view the God-narrative as if from thirty thousand feet, safe in the abstract places of detached theology.

There, Scripture is a movie we are passively watching rather than a true story we are participating in, and so we often miss the gravity of these moments and fail to experience them on visceral level, which is a shame. The greater time and emotional distance we get from the stories of Jesus, the smaller he actually becomes and the less wild and dangerous these stories feel.

But there is a beauty in trying to see these accounts from the ground level, to imagine how they looked and felt from the low places of people’s ordinary lives—people who didn’t know what we think we know from where we’re standing. When we do, we remember what is really going on here. We remember that this is the story of an olive-skinned baby, born amid the smell of damp straw and animal dung because no human-worthy welcome could be found; of a child of young Palestinian Jewish parents, desperately fleeing politically ordered genocide. It is the story of a poor, itinerant, street preaching rabbi; spending his days dining with the lepers and prostitutes, enlisting the doubters and the backsliders, and comforting the bleeding and the grieving. It is divinity coming low to inhabit humanity. It is God’s massive scale delivered in counterintuitive smallness. It is beautifully strange.

When we place our feet firmly in the dirt and dust of the everyday within the Gospel stories, we see Jesus getting low to meet us there. It reminds us that more often than upon the jubilant summit of the radiant mountaintop, the spiritual journey is spent in the low and shadow places. We are there in that beautiful lowness when we live humbly. We are there when we seek forgiveness. We are there in our grief and suffering. We are there when we kneel in reverent awe. We are there when we spend ourselves on behalf of someone else. When we place ourselves in these postures, our perspective changes, our attitude towards people shifts, and we become agents of love in a way that actually resembles Jesus. We perpetuate his character through our very lives. The season of Advent allows us to notice the posture we are living in; and invites us to step into the story again and to get our hands dirty. It is a space where we can walk together and get proximity to these stories again—to a place closer than religion can go.                                                                                                                                                                           When Jesus offers the prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” he reminds us that the invitation as we walk the road of Advent, is not to escape this place to an elevated Heavenly sanctuary somewhere, it is to bring Heaven down. Immanuel means “God with us.” In other words, it is Jesus, getting low. This is really good news for us here on the ground.

Let’s head to the low places together.

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Here’s how it works.

God created.

Once, and only once …. as far as we know.

This act of creation is depicted in the Book of Genesis as the 6 days of creation.

Because God is good only, creation was good only.

This is depicted in the Book of Genesis as the Garden of Eden.

At the very end of God’s act of creation, God creates humans. Us.

And God proclaimed us to be very good.

The Book of Genesis named these humans Adam and Eve.

The Garden was God’s complete Goodness. Harmony. Everything, all one. Us. Creation. God.

For perhaps a blink of an eye. Probably much shorter.

However long it took for the Adams and Eves to exert free will.

That moment is depicted in the Book of Genesis by the serpent and the forbidden fruit.

Humans bite. Then self is might. God becomes a back-up plan.

Scratch the needle across the record! Disharmony. Sin. Separation, from God and each other.

Undoable. But … redeemable.

Paradise gone. Humans go East.

Their new world is depicted in the Book of Genesis as Cain & Abel.

Sin. Separation, from God and each other. And death.

Self-might is never right. Over and over and over and … insanity rules.

Only God is good. We’re only redeemable. God is the good redeemer.

Somebody say, Amen!

God’s love for humans is infinite. Beyond words. Really.

God becomes One with us, as one of us. Christmas.

This is depicted in the Gospel of Luke as a babe born in the manger.

God divine becomes God human. Both. Jesus of Nazareth. Christ the Lord.

Jesus is the sacrifice for our redemption. Remember … God is the good redeemer.

This sacrifice is depicted in the Gospel of Luke as the crucifixion of Jesus.

God divine defeats death. God human takes all the world’s sin away with Him.

What wondrous love is this? You know it in your soul.

This is God’s love offering … for you. Do you have one for God?

God human ascends. God spirit remains. Jesus lives. Death is defeated.

And … We Are Redeemed! God spirit lives in us. Kingdom Builders.

This is depicted to us in the Book of Genesis as the Garden of Eden.

Remember? That’s our home. The original. At the creation.

They say, all life is about going home. It’s true.

We’re all going home. Going every minute of every day.

Redeemed. Homegoing. Very Good!

God is good. All the time.


… and then God created again!



Have a peaceful and harmonious week!

Pastor Bob <><

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