Step into the story

This advent season join us at NRC as we prepare for Jesus’ arrival; celebrating the one that came in the form of a baby, embracing the presence of his Spirit among us, and anticipating his triumphant return.  This season is a time to remember that even among darkness we rejoice in the Light of Jesus. Each week we light one more candle, remembering that we have been given the hope, peace, love, and joy of Jesus to light up the darkness.

blue christmas service

Please join us on Thursday, December 17th at 6:30pm for a special service open to all members of our community,

regardless of faith background to acknowledge suffering in a formal, public way. We have all experienced some kind of loss

this year, so let's support one another as we lament our losses, together.

We are glad to have Cynthia Ruchti as our speaker for the evening.

You can also join us online by clicking here.

Christmas candlelight services

We are thrilled to celebrate Christmas at NRC with our Christmas Candlelight services!

We want to rejoice in the light of Jesus by worshipping our Savior and being in community together.

Join us as we celebrate the birth of our living hope, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 23rd at 6:30pm // Thursday, December 24th at 4:30pm

Reserve your seats by clicking here.

Four Christmas Reflections

Hundreds of years before the first Christmas, the prophet Isaiah foreshadowed the coming of Jesus in the form of a baby (Isaiah 7:14). At the time of this prophesy God lovingly gave four practical commands (Isaiah 7:4) on how to handle life as one waits for the hope of divine intervention. Let’s reflect on these words from God as we prepare our hearts for Christmas.


God said, “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart…” Isaiah 7:4


The following four reflections are opportunities for you to prepare your heart for Jesus’ arrival in your life this Christmas. Jesus arrives at our door again and again, desiring to be a part of every part of life we experience.

Take 10 minutes for each reflection. Reflections can be done separately over a few days or consecutively.


  • Advent week 1


    I hope I get a new bike.
    I hope my team wins this game.
    I hope people like me.
    I hope I get into that school.
    I hope I get my dream job.
    I hope someone will want to marry me.

    I hope I get a promotion.
    I hope I will have kids one day.
    I hope I will grow out of this habit.
    I hope they don’t judge how dirty my house is. 

    I hope I stop feeling this way.

    I hope this isn’t all for nothing.

    I hope I won’t be disappointed with my life.
    I hope...
    I hope...
    I hope... 

    Our lives are mapped by our hopes.


    Many times in life, we are fighting between disappointment and fulfillment. Have you ever experienced this? When we hope for something specific, we learn it can go in one of only two ways. Disappointment or fulfillment. We want to do everything in our power to avoid disappointment and secure that fulfillment. Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”


    Consider this; throughout all of history, people have experienced hopelessness. God was always speaking and moving through people, and He still is! Think about the prophet Isaiah. God spoke through him to hopeless people saying in Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 


    This sounds amazing, but insert 700 years of waiting. From the time of this prophecy, to the birth of Jesus that we read about in Luke 2:12, 700 years had passed!

    “…you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” 

    Can you imagine waiting 700 years for a promise to be fulfilled? Talk about fighting between disappointment and fulfillment! Keeping hope can be difficult in times of waiting, but God is faithful to fulfill His promises. God makes promises, but doesn’t give a timeline.


    Much of our anxiety comes from our inability to be patient. We mistake “not yet” for “never” (Cue the disappointment!) When our hope is built on things rather than Jesus, disappointment creeps in. Our encouragement to wait on the promises of God comes from

    1 Peter 1:13b “…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”


    To hope in the promises of God is to be patient with God. It is believing all the facts are not yet in. It is believing the story isn’t done being written. It is believing there is something still yet to be revealed or uncovered. It is believing that despite the waiting, there was a child to be born, who was and is “true God of true God, and Light from Light eternal.” Hope looks towards Christ – longing itself fulfilled by our Savior, our Living Hope!


    Our lives are mapped by our hopes. The map is long, but it leads somewhere.


    Revelation 22:2b – “On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” According to John’s vision in Revelation, the map leads to a tree of life. Like the proverb above, our longing will be fulfilled. This hope will not disappoint us! 


    This Christmas season, look towards the future promised to you by God by looking at this child, finally arrived. What do you see? Just a baby in a cradle? Just a story? Or do you see a wooden manger holding the light of the world, pointing to the ultimate tree of life?

    THIS is hope. I hope you see it.


    Prayer: Christ be my hope. Help me see you. Help me look to you.


    Practice: Make a “map” of your life’s hopes. Start with your earliest hope. Write enough to remember the feeling, but don’t dwell. When you're finished writing out the hopes you remember throughout your life, write this: “I hope my longing will be fulfilled in Christ.”


    Thank God for the ways He is already keeping this promise.

  • advent week 2

    The Hebrew word for “peace” is the word “shalom.” It means “to be safe, sound, perfect, complete, nothing lacking.” Shalom signifies the presence of well-being and harmony, both within and without. It also signifies the absence of anxiety or stress. Biblically, it is a future-orientated word. One would think the birth of the prince of “shalom” must have been peaceful. One would think. 


    Matthew 1:18-25

    “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” 

    We don't know very much about Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. He is a carpenter, a blue-collar artisan who works with his hands. He’s an “honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage” kind of guy. So when his fiancé gets pregnant (by the Holy Spirit, though he doesn’t know it yet!), his response is extraordinary. Despite what was most likely deep hurt, scripture says he is “unwilling to put her to shame". Joseph decides to deal with the situation quietly, without fuss. He wants to guard her from the shame he knows could come. Joseph is merciful, and he repays what he presumes to be evil with good.

    In other words, he is a good man.


    At this point in the story, he is most definitely not at peace!


    Matthew 1:20a says “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” Joseph is “considering these things” well into the night. Even his dreams are dominated by the situation. He’s mid-stress-dream when an angel shows up, in his dream...with a job. 


    Angels appear prominently in the birth story of Jesus. They come in a dazzle of brilliance and are notorious for bringing “good news of great joy!” But for Joseph, while this news is indeed good, the implications for him in the here and now are heavy. The angel says:

    “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” Matthew 1:20b-25 Joseph is to proceed with the marriage. Mary and her son are very important. She is the one of whom the prophet, Isaiah, testified. Jesus will save all people from their sins. Those are gigantic destinies!


    But what about Joseph? Interestingly, there is nothing about his own life, his own impact. It’s as if his legacy is to be bound up in the life of these two: the virgin and her son. 

    “Don’t be a hero, Joe” — I can imagine his friends saying. “It was just a silly dream.” 


    Matthew 1:24-25

    “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” God commands Joseph to do something, and he intends to do it. Through discomfort, trial, anxiety, challenge and shame (read: non-peace), he will raise the Prince of Peace.


    If I were Joseph, I would have a few follow up questions. But Joseph doesn’t ask a thing! He trusts God and obeys. Of all the characters in the early part of Jesus’ life, Joseph gets the most face-time with heavenly messengers. Repeatedly, angels show up with a difficult job. Repeatedly, Joseph trusts and obeys. See for yourself…


    Matthew 2:13-14

    “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt.”

    And again...

    Matthew 2:19-20

    “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.” 


    We try so hard to manage our own impact, our own legacies, our own peace. So much anxiety and stress and so little peace comes from relying on our own strength to create something eternally meaningful. God doesn’t ask us to part the sea, He asks us to walk through it! God didn't ask Joseph to explain his marriage and family to the world — he asked Joseph to trust and obey!


    Philippians 3:13-14; 4:7

    “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


    Trust and obedience are how we let God make good on His promise. In so doing, as Joseph did, we find peace. This Christmas, resolve to entrust your destiny to God, and like Joseph, bind up your legacy with the Prince of Peace. 


    Prayer:

    God give me your peace. Help me trust and obey.


    Practice:

    What are some ways you have tried to squeeze eternal significance from your own strength? 

    What are some areas in which God is calling you to trust and obey him, even though it’s difficult? 

  • Advent week 3

    Luke 1:26-28

    “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 

    We’ve all gotten bad gifts. And I don’t mean the “you got me this ugly sweater?” kind of bad gift. I mean the kind of gift that feels more like an expectation in festive wrapping paper. These kinds of gifts are, in fact, no gifts at all. They are transactions, and often, manipulative ones. 

    Mary has obviously gotten bad gifts before too. Her response is telling. 


    Luke 1:29

    “but she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be”

    It’s almost as if Mary is wondering to herself “What kind of gift is this? What do you want from me? What am I missing from this too-good-to-be-true scenario?” 

    Life teaches us to expect a catch. We wait for our “luck to run out.” We think that at some point the check is going to come, and we’re not going to be able to pay it. We feel the burdensome expectations of life, and, most of the time, we feel like we are barely keeping up. We put expectations on others and are disappointed when they don’t live up to them. 

    This is life in the transaction. 

    But God’s love is different. He reminds us, along with Mary, “there’s no catch.” 


    Luke 1:30

    “And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

    The “favored one” needs reminding that she has “found favor with God.” We all need reminding.

    C.S. Lewis in his book “The Four Loves” describes something called gift-love. 

    Gift-love is the opposite of transaction. Gift-love is the kind of love which neither expects nor requires reciprocation. It is entirely dependent on the giver. With this kind of love, the receiver has only to receive

    This is the kind of love God has for us. The only fitting response to this kind of love is an actively-passive response. It’s a posture of heart bent towards reception. It does not say “I’m going to make this happen,” but simply, “let it be.”


    Luke 1:38b

    “And Mary said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.” 

    Mary gives herself to God, not out of compulsion, duty or strain — but out of love. The gift-love of God produces love in Mary. 

    This is the most contested point for all of us transaction-loving-folks (read: everyone). 

    Gift-love is generative! It generates love! Gift-love produces spontaneously and from the heart that which transaction-love, with all its obsession over tit-for-tat, can only ever fake.  

    If you don’t believe me, here’s Mary’s response to the gift-love of God: 


    Luke 1:46-55

    And Mary said,

    “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

    Mary uses some form of “he has done this!” Nine different times in this short vertical focused poem. It’s all about Him and what He has done! When you’re dealing with the God of gift-love, you can’t help but notice the ways He loves. You can’t help but praise. You can’t help but love him. 

    This Christmas, remember that God’s love is gift-love. Only ever gift-love.  Let it be. 

    Prayer:

    Lord, remind me of your gift love. Help me receive. Let it be! 

    Practice:

    Make a list of the ways you feel your relationship with God has been transactional. What are the “be-this-or-else” or “do-this-or-else” habits or ways of thinking that you can confess and repent of? 

    Once you’ve acknowledged your own transactional-love tendencies, thank God that His love is nothing like yours. 

    Write out a prayer of praise, a vertical focused prayer, thanking Him for his gift-love. 


  • advent week 4


    There is no joy like the joy of discovery. 

    “I just discovered this new restaurant!” 

    “I just discovered this new TV show!”

    “I just discovered this new band!”

    “I just discovered I have extra vacation time!” 

    “I just discovered I had a wealthy relative who left me millions of dollars in inheritance!”

    Joy is quite possibly the deepest, most common motivator of all people in all times. We go to great lengths for joy, for happiness. When you discover something really good, you can’t help but respond. It’s like it draws something out of you. That moment of discovery, that spontaneous split-second flutter of delight in something truly good— that’s joy. 

    We so often miss our chance at joy because of one thing: fear. 

    The Christmas story is a story about something truly good, and what happens when we take God at his word, amidst our fears: we discover joy, and that joy draws forth praise.  


    Luke 2:8-20

    “…there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” 

    Shepherds were among the first to hear this good news. There was nothing special about them. They were at work. The setting was mundane. These details are important. 

    God comes to you where you are. He doesn’t make you dress up. He doesn’t give you an address on the far corner of the world, where He can be found. He finds you. He comes precisely to the place where it seems he is least likely to come. 

    And when He comes, you know it. 


    Luke 2:9

    “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.”

    There is no doubt when one is in the presence of God. There is an associated condition: fear. God’s glory and man’s fear are correlated.  

    We avoid fear like the plague, and for good reason. Who likes to be afraid? But our aversion to fear has an unintended consequence. 

    Our aversion to fear has deafened us to the message which is only made audible through our fear. We avoid our fear, but in so doing, we miss our joy. 


    Luke 2:10a

    “And the angel said to them, “Fear not…”

    Fear, if nothing else, makes us present. It makes us alert to the moment. Like hearing a startling noise when you least expect it. Suddenly, you’re all ears. 

    We so often try to hide from our fears, or numb ourselves to them, or try and foresee every possible scenario and control every possible variable in order to mitigate our fear. But what if God gives us these fears to make us present, to help us listen? 

    You see, when we do listen to God amidst our fears, the message is marvelous: fear not. 


    Luke 2:10b

    “…for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

    Joy is not only in the fact that we have nothing to fear — joy is in beholding how our best wish, the one wish to rule all wishes, has come true. 

    Behold! There is good news of which you ought bear witness! When you do, it will be your great joy! 






    Luke 2:11

    “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  

    Behold! God is here. He has come to save you once and for all. He has come to make good on His promise. The days of evil are numbered. Sorrow will cease. Justice will finally come. Fear will be no more. When you forget, He will remind you. You don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t have to answer for your sins. The decisive word you’ve been waiting to hear your whole life has been spoken. 

    The great joy of the world is here. 

    But it looks different than you might expect. 


    Luke 2:12

    “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

    It’s not in a palace. 

    It’s not flashy, it’s not large. 

    It’s not in a Macy’s window display. 

    It’s not in the bigger house or the nicer car.  

    It’s not in the empty promise of upward-mobility. 

    It’s not in the supposed dream-lives of the rich and famous. 

    It’s not even in your own half-decent attempts to become a better person. 

    It’s small and easy to miss. 

    It’s hidden in the most unlikely place. 

    There, in that manger, lies all the joy you’ve ever dared hope for. 


    Luke 2:15-16

    “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 

    After beholding, the shepherds took a risk. They staked something on this news. 

    This is where it gets hard for us. 

    Modern marketing plays to our desire for joy all the time. Our minds are littered with counterfeit promises: “Buy into this trend, this relationship, this career path, this new phone, this political leader, this new method of raising kids… and you will have joy!” 

    And so we buy in. Time and again we invest too much in too small a promise, and are let down. We spend a fortune with so little return. We get our political leader in office and after a bit, we still feel something is missing. No wonder it’s so hard to hear the goods news. No wonder we are skeptical. 

    But we need not be skeptical of God. His word will not let us down. His word is “good news of great joy.” It is news concerning an event. 

    When we stake our lives on this good news, this marvelous discovery, we find great joy. And this joy draws something forth in us: praise. 


    Luke 2:20

    “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

    Joy always precedes praise. Even with lesser joys, like a good meal, you can’t help but audibly express your delight. “Mmmm! This is delicious!” How much more will this ultimate joy draw forth praise in us? 

    This Christmas, don’t be afraid to take God at his word right where you are, amidst your fears. Behold this good news and discover your great joy! Take that risk and stake everything on it. 

    You will not be let down. In your joy, you will be bursting at the seams with praise. 

    ...

    Prayer:

    God, though I’m afraid, help me take you at your word. Help me discover joy. 

    Practice: 

    Make a list of the ways you’ve invested too much in too little. Ask God to help you actively listen to this good news and not to be afraid. 


2 Corinthians 4:6-8 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.


We wish you a Merry Christmas!

We look forward to seeing you for Christmas Candlelight services


Wednesday 12/23 @ 6:30PM

Thursday 12/24 @ 4:30PM

Reserve a seat