Getting Ready To Anticipate

In just a couple of weeks, the season of Advent will be upon us. That’s always a special time of the Christian calendar, since it calls followers of Jesus Christ to focus their minds and hearts on the period leading up to His birth. It is a time of anticipation.

Ancient Judea knew about anticipation. At the start of the First Century, they lived in a time of anxiety. Israel had disappeared from the roll of nation-states centuries earlier, and now, their land was occupied — yet again — by foreigners who beat them down with taxes and occupying armies. They longed for God to intervene, but they hadn’t heard Him speak for 400 years.

It was a perfect place to simmer hopelessness.

And yet, in the midst of this, God moved. Once again, He surprised His people by delivering the Heart of Hope. More surprisingly, this hope was delivered in the form of an infant.

For 2,000 years, that infant has continued to deliver hope. The babe grew to be the 12-year-old who astounded Torah scholars in the Temple in Jerusalem, the 30-year-old who healed lepers and the 33-year-old who gave Himself to the executioner and then defeated death.

Embrace Church has always worked to make itself a place where people find hope by finding Jesus — in our services, in our ministries and in our people.

I believe the spirit of anticipation that indwells the season of Advent is an attitude that the people of Embrace often feel, when they approach our doors for services and when they leave to go out and perform ministry. I believe the spirit of anticipation is felt by those who visit us, and, we hope, leave feeling inspired to grow closer to Jesus.

So, right now, I invite you to start “anticipating the anticipation.”

Come see us at Embrace Church, either at our downtown Lexington location in the Kentucky Theater or at the Epworth Campus on North Limestone.

We’ll be ready to anticipate with you.

 

A Story of Weakness

I read the stories in the Old Testament, and it always surprises me how many of the heroes  and heroines are virtually powerless in the face of overwhelming odds. And yet they prevail.

Gideon, for instance, starts  with an army of 32,000, but under God’s direction, the number is whittled to 300. Gideon carries the day.

Samson goes from being the world’s strongest man to blind and weak. Then he prays for God’s strength, and he brings the temple down on the Philistine enemy.

Elijah goes up against a multitude of prophets of Baal. Guess who wins.

In fact, if you take a close look at it, only one character in the Bible consistently demonstrates strength and power:  God. When strength and power is exhibited, it comes from God and it leaves His people astonished.

Which brings me to a little church that meets in an old porn theater in downtown Lexington, Kentucky.

The odds were against Embrace Church.

We didn’t do anything right when we started the church three years ago — at least, not according to the experts.

We didn’t launch out of an established church.

We didn’t have a lot of people lined up to show up for the first service or the ones after that. The experts call that “critical mass.”

We didn’t go to a heavily populated area. We began meeting downtown, where few people actually have their homes.

And yet, and yet…

Now, don’t get me wrong. Embrace Church, in its young life, has not become a mega-church. But that’s never been our goal.

We’re a church for people who hurt, who are broken, who need the Lord.

And God has shown up. More than 70 people have accepted Christ as savior at Embrace.

It’s a pretty amazing story.

Something To Eat

It started with a meal and a few friends.

It wouldn’t occur to me until much later how similar the beginning of Embrace Church was with Jesus’ last supper. There were just a few of us, and we met over a meal of Roz’s special boneless Buffalo wings in the privacy of my home.

We were there for Jesus.

It should come as no surprise that Jesus joined us.

After all, He promised he would.

“For where two or three” — and more! — “are gathered in my name, there I am also.” (Matt. 18:20)

It was an amazing experience, the few of us gathered there for Jesus, and Him coming to share our time together.

For a few months, that was Embrace Church — a few of us meeting to share a meal and worship our God. After a time, our numbers grew and it became time to find another place to draw together.

When we did, we were blessed to discover that Jesus came with us! We continued to know His presence and His blessing.

From the few gathered in that house to a few hundred now at Embrace’s two sites, we stand amazed at the way God moved and continues to move in our midst.

If you live in or near Lexington, come join us at either of our sites. You’ll feel the presence of our Lord.

 

Welcome to the New RosarioPicardo.com!

I’m glad you’re here! My new blog will share the experiences of myself and others concerning Embrace Church, recently chartered by the Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church nearly 2-1/2 years after we started in the basement of a rented house.

It’s important that you understand something from the start. Embrace has been special.

The specialness has been from God, and certainly not because of me or any of the people who attend or volunteer at Embrace.

If Embrace hadn’t been a vision of God, it would not have grown from seven of us in that basement room to nearly 300 people at two sites in less than four years.

But Embrace is not a story of numbers.

It never has been.

Embrace is about people, and people growing in their faith in God, their relationship with Jesus and their service to others.

I’ll share those stories here.

I hope you’ll come back often.

I think you’ll find God speaking to you through the story of Embrace.