Another wonderful Sunday (I love the Advent season...)!
The choir performed their Christmas Cantata - bells, choir, solos - beautifully done! And a thoughtful, unique program. Jennifer does a splendid job providing us with magical moments of music! Thank you, Jennifer, Choir, and Bells!
After worship was our cookie party - a fellowship hall full of amamzing treats! Cookies, reubans, shrimp, and... Egg nog!
I'm liking this one! It's great for kids - little games, stories, videos, etc. for each day of Advent!
(And fun for those of us who are kids at heart!)
“The Journey” Smartphone app is based on the new book by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, but it also functions as a standalone Advent calendar. The app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, opens with seven unlocked activities for children. A new one (videos, coloring sheets, puzzles, cards, Bible quizzes) opens daily starting Dec. 1.
Pastor Deb was here to present the check from the sale of First UMC's building - a time of honoring the heritage and ministry that the building served in that community and prayerfully passing on the gifts to be used in ministry in our now-merged congregation. Tears were shed, smiles beamed, and joy was shared at the possibilities of a future together! (And thank you to Jim T. for the kind words of thankfulness - a shared sentiment from all our hearts, I'm sure.)
The Children's Christmas Program was amazing - beautiful, funny, and so wonderful. The speaking parts were right on, the solos were perfect, and the little angels were adorable - as always! (If anyone has pictures they could share - please send them to me!)
After worship, we partied in the Fellowship Hall with a chili lunch, table games, rewards for the picture project, and making new friends. A lovely way to spend part of our afternoon!
The Holy Spirit was present in joy and laughter today! A great kick-off to the holiday season!
Here’s something that might bring back memories for some of us. Think back to Christmases of our
childhood: what was the symbol of all our Christmas wishes? How about the Sears Wish Book? Do you
remember it from when you were young? We would hopefully page through the giant catalogue, circle
our choices in pen, and pray that Santa would deliver our requests on Christmas morning.
The first Sears Wish Book was printed in 1933. Over time it has diminished in size and was even discontinued at one point. It was revived in 2007, but the current books are nothing in size compared to the
books some of us can remember from our youth. Children today don’t really need one. They have the
Internet and their high tech toys to cruise the information highway to identify their holiday “wants.”
But “back in the day” the Sears Wish Book helped us answer the seasonal question: “If you could have
anything for Christmas, what would you ask for?”
You may not need the Sears Wish Book today, but you have some wishes too, don’t you? Next Christmas
how would you answer the question, “If you could have one thing in the world, what would it be?”
Solomon had to answer that one. He asked for wisdom. And God gave it to him. But by the end of his
life he had accumulated more and more: more gold, more horses, more wives. He had it all and wanted
more. In the midst of all these gifts he lost sight of the Giver. He turned away from God and lost it all.
Another King gave us another path to follow. He had it all and gave it all . . . for us. In the Christmas
season, or any season for that matter, you can guard yourself from the tyranny of too much stuff by giving.
Simply give so that others can simply live. That’s what the King born as a baby in the manger did.
And my wish? That you visit the manger and find him.
Wanna follow in David's footsteps and walk closer to God?
This is a big and bold action challenge.
If you have a person or two in your life who are mature in faith and really care about you, consider meeting with them and humbly inviting them to speak truth into your life... any time. Let them know that you will seek to prayerfully listen and receive their words, even when those words are difficult.
Our role in life is to point people to God by the way we live our lives, prioritize, make decisions, treat people, and speak to people. This is how we align our lives to the Upper Story. We live each day with the notion that we are to be Jesus to the people around us. This also includes how we handle life when we sin. The world is watching.
David's response to the consequences of his sin reveals the character of God. We see that God maintains God's role as holy and just. We see a gracious and loving God who restored the relationship between God and David. We see God redeeming the scandalous relationship between David and Bathsheba by placing their son Solomon in the lineage of God's son, Jesus. We see God doing this over and over again - in addition to Bathsheba God placed Tamar in the lineage, along with Ruth and Rahab.
Applications for this week:
God wants us to walk in righteousness so others can see God through us. God wants us to be like Uriah, who does right and lives his life with integrity, even when he could get away with things. God wants us to be like Nathan, who had courage to confront a friend who had taken a wrong turn. But God also wants us to be like David when we sin and hurt others. The way we respond in those times can also give people one of the best glimpses of God. God is gracious, forgiving, restores us.
This week, in the story of David and Bathsheba, we see David commit a series of horrible sins... And later, when God sends the prophet Nathan to confront him about his sins, David simply says, "Yes. I have sinned."
No excuses. No lies. No rationalizations.
"I have sinned."
Ask yourself: How do I respond when people confront or correct me? Am I like Saul, covering my tracks? Or am I like David, listening, receiving, and repenting?
Pray this week that God will put people in your life who love you enough to confront you about your sins. Invite the Holy Spirit to soften your heart so that you will humbly receive their words of conviction and correction.
We started during the Education hour with Jake and Melissa sharing their life and faith story - and what a story it's been! We thank them for letting us be witnesses to their faith in times of struggle and challenge - and for letting us surround them with love and prayers! Everytime their beautiful kids come running through the church door, we are reminded that God is present - everyday.
Worship was filled with Sandy's beautiful harp music and the sacrament of Communion; as well as one more story about King David (the juicy story about Bathsheba - and the amazing forgiveness that God gives) before we take a break from "The Story" for the rest of Advent.
After worship about 16 people went out to lunch at Old World Pizza and enjoyed a meal over wonderful conversation and lots of laughter! 12 of us then went over to the AMC theatres to watch some movies! I haven't heard reviews on "Arthur Christmas" or "Happy Feet 2" yet, but "The Muppets" was a blast!
So many wonderful things happening at St. Paul's UMC - stories shared, stories read, and new stories being written! It's a blessing to be a part of this community!
When Pope John Paul died, a man named Rogers Cadenhead quickly registered the web address http://www.benedictxvi.com/, thinking this might be the name chosen by the new pope. When Cardinal
Ratzinger was elected Pope, he did choose the name Pope Benedict XVI, causing some to question what
the Vatican would do to get the rights to that domain name.
Cadenhead didn’t ask the Vatican for money. Instead, in a humorous manner on his blog he suggested a
few things he would trade for:
1. Three days, two nights at the Vatican hotel.
2. One of those hats (referring to the bishop’s hat).
3. Complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987.
Wonder what Rogers did the third week of March in 1987? Me too, but does it really matter? Most of us
have at least a week for which we’d love to have total forgiveness.
We discover in The Story that David did. One day when the army is at war, David, who is the commander
of the nation’s military, neglects his duties and stays behind. He sees Bathsheba, seduces her, gets her
pregnant, murders her husband, and tries to cover up his actions by deceiving his general and soldiers.
Then he marries Bathsheba and she bears their child.
It looks as if David will get away with all of this. But he doesn’t. God sends his prophet Nathan to confront
David by telling him a story about a poor man with one lamb. David knows something about sheep
and shepherds, so he listens. Nathan says that the poor man has a rich neighbor who needs to slaughter a
lamb to feed a guest, but instead of taking one of his many sheep he steals the poor man’s one lamb.
David is incensed and says that man should be put to death. Nathan then declares, “You are the man!”
At that moment David must have wished he had bought a domain name that he could swap for absolution.
He may have wanted to make excuses. Explain things away. Blame it on Bathsheba for taking
a bath in broad daylight where he could see. But instead of making excuses, David confesses. “I have
sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13).
And God did with David’s sin what he will do with yours and mine. He put it away (Psalm 103:12-13).
You can do what David did. Whatever your “third week of March” might be, sit down with it, yourself
and God. Confess your sin. And then let another shepherd from Bethlehem forgive it. That’s better than
In our personal deserts and seasons of waiting, we need to remember that God is with us. But we can also take comfort in knowing that God's people are walking with us too. Think about a family member or friend who is in the midst of a hard time. Pray for them. Ask God to use you as a conduit of God's love, a visible reminder that God is with them, caring for them. And ask them how you might come alongside to offer care and support.
Director of Youth and Outreach at St. Paul's United Methodist Church AND a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend, an aunt, a god-mother, a volunteer, a woman of faith, and one who chooses to live in joy and gratefulness... Here I write mostly about faith and life - and would love to hear your comments and stories, for I believe that is how we learn and grow together!