Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!


 Not Only Christmas Day
Lord, this is my prayer
Not only on Christmas Day
But until I see You face to face
May I live my life this way:


Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in Your loving arms
Trusting in Your sovereignty.


And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know You
With my mind and spirit yearning.


Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in Your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.


Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that Your kingdom
Awaits my going home.


Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how You rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.


Like my risen Savior
The babe, the child, the Son,
May my life forever speak
Of who You are and all You've done.


So while this world rejoices
And celebrates Your birth,
I treasure You, the greatest gift
Unequaled in Your worth.


I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home Your Son,
"Come, good and faithful servant,"
Your Master says, "Well done."


And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day

-- Mary Fairchild

Debbie and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and pray your celebrations are filled with the presence of God!
 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Eve Worship



You Are Invited 
to Community UMC's 
Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Experiences

Thursday, December 24, 2015

5pm (Family Life Center)

7pm (Sanctuary)

9pm (Sanctuary) 


Childcare: There will be childcare provided at both the 5pm and 7pm services. 

Communion: Communion will be served at both the 7pm and 9pm services. 


Join us as we celebrate the birth of our Savior! 


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - This Sunday we will continue our Advent series on God With Us as we reflect upon the miraculous gift of incarnation in Christmas and how we can walk through the season of Advent as a time of spiritual preparation. This week Pastor Daryl will focus upon John 1:1-5 and God's "Different Kind of Love." Bring a friend and we hope to see you there!


2. #PictureAdvent - As we continue in this journey of Advent, we hope that you are finding ways to prepare your hearts and minds to encounter Christ in Christmas. One of the programs sponsored by our Conference's Life Enrichment Center is a daily devotional called "#PictureAdvent." You can click here to sign up and receive them each day by email. There are also links there for other ways you can participate in this season of spiritual preparation on social media like Facebook and Instagram. Pastor Debbie and Pastor Daryl have both written devotionals which will appear during the season of #PictureAdvent devotionals.We pray you experience the presence of God in new and exciting ways this Advent.


3.  Christmas Eve Worship Services - We will be celebrating Christmas Eve with three worship services that evening: 5pm, 7pm and 9pm. The 5pm service will be held in our Family Life Center and the 7pm and 9pm will be held in our sanctuary. Join us for these wonderful worship experiences that will include candle lighting as well. Both the 5pm and 7pm service will have childcare available.

We are both really looking forward to celebrating one of our favorite nights of the year with our new church family!




Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Midweek Moment

On Sunday I took the risk of following the Holy Spirit and preaching about what to do when you just aren't feeling joyful and happy in the midst of Christmas, "the happiest season of the year" and shared how hard some Christmases have been since my parents died. I was blown away by the number of people who commented in some fashion that they could relate, in previous years or even in this particular year. In trying to talk about the difference between happiness and biblical joy, I also shared how our tendency to compare ourselves against others in this season (with perfect Christmas cards and newsletters) often causes us to be insecure and robs us of our ability to celebrate.

I was reminded this week of a poem I read several years ago from Sharon Jaynes, in her book "Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas." Sharon aptly address this phenomenon by placing the way we celebrate Christmas into the context of I Corinthians 13 with its beautiful description of agape love. These are wonderful guiding principles to help keep our Christmas preparations and celebrations in the right perspective.

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at meal time, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook. 

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing. 

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point. 

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at kids to get out of the way, but is thankful that they are there to be in the way. 

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure. 

Blessings to you in this Advent Season!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - This Sunday we will continue our Advent series on God With Us as we reflect upon the miraculous gift of incarnation in Christmas and how we can walk through the season of Advent as a time of spiritual preparation. This week Pastor Debbie will focus on Luke 1:26-38 and the importance of giving our real selves to God so we may fully appreciate the true joy of Advent. Bring a friend and we hope to see you there!





2. Stewardship Commitments - The planning for the wonderful ministries we will participate in during 2016 is ongoing and very exciting. So that we may plan accordingly we need to hear from you. If you have not yet had the opportunity to turn in your Stewardship Commitments for 2016, it is not too late to do so.  Please bring in your Stewardship Commitments this Sunday to worship and put them in the offering plates or turn them into the church office during the week. We want to encourage all of you to continue to prayerfully consider how God is calling you to respond with not only your treasure, but your time, talents, gifts, service, and witness as well. Together we can make 2016 the best year yet!





3. #PictureAdvent - As we continue in this journey of Advent, we hope that you are finding ways to prepare your hearts and minds to encounter Christ in Christmas. One of the programs sponsored by our Conference's Life Enrichment Center is a daily devotional called "#PictureAdvent." You can click here to sign up and receive them each day by email. There are also links there for other ways you can participate in this season of spiritual preparation on social media like Facebook and Instagram. Pastor Debbie and Pastor Daryl have both written devotionals which will appear during the season of #PictureAdvent devotionals.We pray you experience the presence of God in new and exciting ways this Advent.





4. You are Invited! - The Music Ministry here at Community UMC is in full swing and you have several opportunties to be a part of the fun and wonderment through the Christmas Cantata and Children's Musical.

  • The Christmas Cantata "The Many Moods of Christmas" will be performed and offered this Sunday, December 13th, at 3:30pm and 6:30pm in the sanctuary. 

  • The children will present their musical "The Loaned Manger" on Wednesday, December 16th, at 6:30pm in the sanctuary, following Wednesday night dinner (all regular classes will be concluded at that point).

We encourage you to invite a friend and come and enjoy these presentations as we worship the Lord together. We hope to see you there!



5. Food Pantry - Our food pantry is generous in helping families throughout the year, especially  during the holiday season with special baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please consider making a special donation to the Food Pantry ministry in the next couple of weeks to help in this endeavor as they seek to bless families with special baskets for the holidays.





Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Midweek Moment

Here we are firmly in the midst of Advent, a time of year that is very important to our faith. I want to share with you just an excerpt from our Board of Discipleship website that explains just a bit about what Advent. “Advent is a season for remembering and celebrating the culmination of all things in Christ. Advent puts Christmas into its proper place, not as a comforting destination or early winter way station, but rather as nothing less than the completely disruptive inbreaking of the God who, through this birth, makes all things new.”

Many of us have heard about how Advent is a time of preparation. While we are not preparing for the First Advent that culminated in Christ’s birth, we are looking toward the second Advent for when Jesus will return. But this quote helps us to put a finer point on the matter. It is more than just preparation; more than just making sure we behave; more than just getting ourselves right before God.

Advent is making room for the “disruptive inbreaking of the God who, through this birth, makes all things new.” It means new life, fresh faith, and emergent hope. It means that redemption comes alive as not only our faith journeys, but the journeys of others, are transformed. It is that tremendous gift from our Creator that restores us before God and draws us closer to our Lord. It is that reminder that everything changed with the birth of that tiny baby in Bethlehem, all those years ago.

This advent, I pray you experience that newness. A newness so transforming that it leaves you trembling and overwhelmed. A newness that leaves no doubt in your soul that you have been touched by the power of the Holy Spirit. I hope it helps you see more things, all things, from a new perspective, from Christ’s perspective. Make room in your life for that newness, for that change, for that transformation. Because once we receive that power and redemption from on high, then comes the best part…sharing it with others!

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - This Sunday we will continue our Advent series on God With Us as we reflect upon the miraculous gift of incarnation in Christmas and how we can walk through the season of Advent as a time of spiritual preparation. This week we'll focus on Isaiah 9:2-7 and how we  to separate the magic of Santa Claus from the miracle of incarnation and focus upon how God can do miracles through ordinary people like Mary and Joseph, as well as you and me. Bring a friend and we hope to see you there!

2. Stewardship Commitments - If you have not yet turned in your Stewardship Commitments for 2016, it is not too late to do so. You may bring in your Stewardship Commitments this Sunday to worship and put them in the offering plates or turn them into the church office during the week.


3. #PictureAdvent - As we continue in this journey of Advent, we  hope that you are finding ways to prepare your hearts and minds to encounter Christ in Christmas. One of the programs sponsored by our own conference Life Enrichment Center is a daily devotional called "#PictureAdvent." Click here to sign up to receive the daily devotional by email. There are also links there for other ways you can participate in this season of spiritual preparation on social media like Facebook and Instagram. Pastor Debbie and Pastor Daryl have both written devotionals which will appear during the season of #PictureAdvent devotionals.

4. You are Invited! 
* The Music Ministry of CUMC will present their Christmas Concert "The Many Moods of Christmas" on Sunday December 13 at 3:30pm and 6:30pm in the sanctuary.

* The children will present the musical "The Loaned Manger" on Wednesday December 16th at 6:30pm in the sanctuary, following Wednesday night dinner (all regular classes are encouraged to attend the musical).

5. Food Pantry - Our food pantry is generous in helping families throughout the year but also in the holiday season with special baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please consider making a special donation to the Food Pantry ministry in the next couple of weeks to help them bless families with special baskets for the holidays.






Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Midweek Moment



In Sunday's sermon we considered what it meant for us to use the season of Advent as a time of spiritual reflection and preparation for Christmas; to find ways to reflect upon the miracle of incarnation - God With Us. As we moved between the two worship spaces and the three different worship services on Sunday, Daryl and I enjoyed the ways in which Community makes space for the incarnation - in creative ways  and ways that are participatory in nature. The sanctuary features a beautiful nativity right in the narthex, includes the addition of a nativity piece along with the lighting of the Advent wreath and handmade Chrismons on the trees up front. Even Daryl and I were decked out in our best Advent attire with these great purple stoles.







The Family Life Center changed the pallet background into Christmas tree silhouettes and features a wonderfully eclectic Lantern Ladder for lighting the Advent candles each week.



We are officially four days into the season of Advent now. And I reminded of an email I received from a dear clergy colleague several years ago in the middle of December. Her words were profound and I have held onto them: "Hope your Advent is going well, not too busy, with moments of meaningfulness."

Moments of meaningfulness. That's exactly what we talked about on Sunday in worship about Advent - finding ways to slow down and enjoy the season while reflecting upon and considering Christ in the midst of our busy cultural celebrations of Christmas. How are you doing with finding space and time to prepare yourselves and to celebrate the incarnation this year? Have there been any moments of meaningfulness? 

Lord of time and hope, we rush headlong into the holidays to come. We look at our calendars and wonder how we will get everything accomplished in the time allotted before the “Big Day” arrives. But you bring hope to us, as you always have through the voices of the great prophets and through Jesus. Remind us again about what the season is truly about….love, hope, peace and joy. Calm us down. Slow us down. Help us remember that it is in loving relationship that you gave your Son to us and it is in loving relationship that your Word is carried into the hearts of people. No tinsel, ribbons, tape, or card can convey the eternal message adequately. You have given us the Light to shine in our path and cut through our darkness. Shine in the hearts of your people today. Bless those dear ones who we have named before you today with your healing, reconciling, comforting presence and love. Give strength to all who face difficult situtions and let your compassionate light shine on them guiding their decisions and steps. Bring us at last to your presence where the light of hope and love continually pour out on us. This we offer in the name of Emmanuel who you gave to us and who gave himself for us. Amen.

Blessings,