Starting on February 24th, we will use a new 5-week series by Theocademy, “Being Presbyterian: Foundations of Presbyterian Discipleship” as the basis of our adult Sunday school class following worship. The description of the class reminds us, “to be Presbyterian is to join a way of life informed by a particular rhythm: God calls us in grace and love; we respond in gratitude.” The class will explore these themes of grace and gratitude and how they inform our Presbyterian theology. All are welcome, especially those who wonder what Presbyterians believe.
Advent and Christmas Blessings to you and yours!
As we begin our Advent and Christmas celebrations this year, I have found myself turning to that very first Christmas when Jesus was born to Mary. If we were to put modern day labels on their situation, the story begins with Mary and Joseph, far from home, relying on the kindness of distant kin and strangers. They were homeless that first Christmas Eve, couch-surfers made even more vulnerable by Mary’s advanced pregnancy. Then, after the miracle of Jesus’ birth, the wonder-filled devotion of the shepherds and the visits from the magi, Mary and Joseph learned through a dream that King Herod wanted to kill their son. That dream warned them to leave their country and go to Egypt. In Egypt they were refugees, a family in need of asylum because they had fled Israel afraid for their lives. A few years later, once the king had died, they were able to return to Israel.
G.K. Chesterton, a Christian author from the early 20th century, wrote a poem, “The House of Christmas” that tells this story. In it, he writes,
A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
As Christians we have found our true homes in the once homeless Jesus. It is ironic, but fitting, that the one who came to welcome us as his brothers and sisters in God’s family was himself born of homeless parents. This is but one of many paradoxes concerning Jesus. He is the King who has no earthly kingdom, the Messiah who does not field an army to overthrow Rome, and the Son of God whose birth was first witnessed by humble, smelly, shepherds fresh from the fields. Chesterton’s poem concludes with these words,
To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
….To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
After our Christmas Eve service this year most of us will return to well-provisioned warm homes. We will spend time with friends and family. For that we give thanks. We know that there are those who will be homeless this Christmas, and for them we pray for food and shelter. As a congregation we contribute and some of us volunteer with agencies making a difference among the homeless – Operation Nightwatch, the local food banks, Mary’s Place, Jean Kim’s Foundation for Homeless Education, and so many others. But this Christmas let’s also take Chesterton’s advice and return home to our Savior, Jesus. Let’s be aware of the many ways our true home is found in Jesus, the Son of God, and how He is the true host of our Christmas celebrations.
May the wonder of all God has done for us through Jesus fill your hearts and gladden your homes this Christmas,
The Christmas Joy Offering will be collected in December. Fifty percent of the offering will help retired church workers with critical housing needs and provide assistance to church workers with urgent financial and medical needs. Half of the offering provides scholarships for people of color at Presbyterian related schools and colleges and helps equip people of color to be pastors and leaders in the church.
The Theology Department at the University of Livingstonia was given $150 from mission funds to purchase e-books to help students with their studies. Tyler Holm, our new mission partner, said books were very scarce at the school. The regular mission distributions will be included in the annual report.
For this month we will be using the videos and book by Max Lucado, “Grace.” What is grace? How would you define it? Come join us after worship on Sunday mornings for study and discussion. Class resumes with the final session after the New Year on January 6th.
We are studying the book of 1st Peter. Come join us as we break open God’s word together. We will meet December 4th & 11th, then resume after the New Year.
Come join us as we stretch and bend! Holy Yoga uses the movements of more traditional yoga set to Christian scripture and music. Two classes are offered each week. Tuesday evenings at 8PM and Thursday mornings at 9AM. Both classes have room for more participants. There is no charge for the class, but a donation is requested. Bring your yoga mat, water, and a friend! No classes December 4th, 20th – January 3rd. Classes resume the week of January 7th.
This coming year the amount we contribute toward the work of the denomination at the Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly level will total $49.45 per member. Per capita is one way our members and congregation annually support the work of the whole church as that church also supports us in our ministry in this place. Your separate contribution of this amount is appreciated, as it keeps this expense from impacting our spending plan for 2019. Please mark your contribution as “per capita.”
According to the Red Cross, “An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It's a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, medical device that can analyze the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.” You can read all about it at the Red Cross website, and locate a local training site if you’d like to be certified. Our AED device is located on the wall next to the restrooms.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, December 12th at 11:30AM at the church. Please bring a salad to share for lunch. If you cannot bring a salad, please come anyway so we can enjoy your company. Pastor Amy will officiate at a communion service, followed by the singing of favorite Christmas carols.
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