Monthly Archives: December 2007

Christmas Tree Travail

This was the pastor’s letter for Christmas at our church.
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The Mix family’s Christmas tree has been a great source of amusement for us… because our cat, appropriately named Noel, keeps climbing and attempting to undecorate the tree. The truth is we don’t have many ornaments up yet… but we did put up the Hallmark Starship Enterprise decoration that Gay bought me back in the early-90’s. It plugs in and lights up.
Although not particularly Christmas-themed, it was a Christmas gift back before we were in ministry, when our family was just Gay and I. And it’s become a little part of our family tradition. The point is: the little blinking light on the starship has entranced the cat. She climbs and bats at it with her paws. She has tried to bite at it. She has successfully dislodged it several times. (I can almost hear Captain Picard shouting “Battle Stations… We’re Under Attack!”)
But I’ve also seen a spiritual lesson here as well. As Christians, we do more than just put up Christmas decorations, right? Hopefully, we put them up to also be a way of drawing attention to the real story behind Christmas… the message that Christ has come and God is With Us. The parties, the trees, the lights, the tinsel, and even Hallmark ornaments, are merely ways to help get people interested in Christmas… and then we, through our personal involvement, can share the rest of the story.
And like our cat goes out of her way to investigate our Christmas tree, our friends and neighbors (and kids and co-workers) are just as keenly aware of what we do. Just showing the Christmas spirit can be a ministry. People can get interested in what we’re doing… and maybe even want to know more.
What are you and your family doing this Christmas to involve your family in the celebration of Christmas? Can the people around you see and feel the joy you have in your music, your decorations, your giving, and the festivities you choose?
How about joining us, and invite someone to come with you, to experience the rest of the story this Christmas? Join us for Sunday worship at 8:15 am, 10:45 am, or 7:00 pm or for Christmas Eve worship at 7:00 pm, December 24th. Let’s make worship one of those festivities that become part of the ongoing family traditions of our Christmas.
Let’s celebrate Christ together!

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ADVENT 5: Christmas Eve

FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, Reynoldsville
ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING LITURGY
December 24, 2007

READ SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:6-7

READING: In this prophecy, Isaiah offers hope to the people of Galilee of the Gentiles… for out of them will come a great light shining in the darkness… a Deliverer to free them from oppression. And with those famous words: “For unto us a son is born…” God let them know that the Deliverer would be one of their own… Born into the chosen people of God who would know them and their ways and understand them in their entirety.

But the oppression the Deliverer would set them free from wasn’t just a political system… as evidenced by the names God ascribes to the Deliverer… “He will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR… MIGHTY GOD… EVERLASTING FATHER… and PRINCE OF PEACE.” They didn’t yet realize it, but God was telling them in advance that this Deliverer would come to rule a kingdom of hearts… and set them free from the oppression of evil… And destroy the power of Satan.

As we light this last candle in our Advent Wreath, the white candle in the center that we call the CHRIST CANDLE, we remember that Jesus came as Deliverer… for them and for us… to deliver them, and us, from the oppression of evil. Thousands of years have passed, and Jesus still offers to deliver people from the effects of sin and evil… if we will allow him.
Let’s make this Christmas complete by inviting Jesus to be our Lord, our Savior, our Friend, and… our Deliverer… Let’s allow Him to reign as King and Lord of our lives.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we welcome you to our church, our homes, and our lives. Reign on the thrones of our hearts as our King and Lord. Deliver us from evil and help us to follow you for the rest of our lives. AMEN.

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Advent 4

This is the liturgy for our fourth week of Advent Candle Lighting.

 

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ADVENT 4

 

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2

READING: Isaiah offered hope to those who lived in times of spiritual darkness… There was a LIGHT that was coming… and that light would shine forth and pierce the darkness. All in darkness would be able to see the light… even those that actually lived in the midst of great darkness… even the ones that lived in the shadow of death would see the light.

Hope WOULD come!

The light WOULD shine!

HALLELUJAH!!!

As we light this fourth Advent candle, we remember that although Isaiah’s prophecy spoke about Jesus coming some 2000 years ago, it also speaks of His second coming which is yet to happen. And like that first coming, He will come as the light when there is a time of great darkness… and everyone living in darkness will have a chance to see the light… Even those who live in the darkest recesses of the darkest, most grievous shadows of death itself.

Hope IS coming!

The light WILL shine!

HALLELUJAH!!!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you said you were the light of the world and then, for those who follow you, you said we also would be light. Lord, as we live our lives we recognize more and more the deepness of the darkness around us. We need to be light like we’ve never been before… sharing the good news that YOU love us and want to save us. But ultimately Lord, it’s YOUR light that we hope for and wait for. You are coming! HALLELUJAH!!! AMEN.

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ADVENT 3

This is the third reading for our Advent Candle Lighting.
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SCRIPTURE: Haggai 2:6-7

READING: In today’s Scripture lesson, the prophet Haggai shares God’s warnings about upcoming events for the people of ancient Jerusalem about rebuilding the city and His temple. But almost lost in the midst of this old prophecy is a reference to the Messiah who would one day come and be known as “The Desire Of All Nations.”

This week, as we light our third candle, we notice that it is not purple like the candles of the last two weeks. This time our candle is pink, reminding us of the HOPE and the JOY that we can look forward to in the midst of Messiah’s coming.

Jesus is the very one that All Nations Desire… even though they may not yet be aware of it yet. The peace and hope and joy the world longs for will only come when Jesus Himself comes back.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You are the Desire of all nations and we pray that you will help us to be ones that desire you personally. Come quickly, Lord, Come quickly. AMEN.

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ADVENT 2

This was the Advent Candle Lighting liturgy from this past Sunday.
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SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 7:14

READING: In this second prophecy about the coming Messiah, the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, has just delivered God’s message of hope to Judah’s King Ahaz… Judah will NOT be conquered by the enemies that are threatening them. God offers to give King Ahaz a sign that he’ll keep his promise… and says that Ahaz can ask for any sign he wants that God will really deliver His people.

Ahaz has always tried to be non-committal with Isaiah, trying to play it safe, and so he tries that same thing now with God… he refuses to ask for a sign… even though God has commanded him to.

So God picks… The sign will be a virgin who will conceive and then bear a son. And as that child grows, the people will be delivered from their enemies. In Ahaz’s day, there was a partial fulfillment of this. A young woman who was a virgin when Isaiah spoke these words, truly did conceive and bear a son… but it was in the normal way that sons were born. And before that son was grown, the people actually were delivered from their enemies … the two kings that Ahaz had so feared, were dead.

But God also had a deeper message of a longer lasting deliverance in mind when he prophecied to Ahaz through Isaiah: There would be another virgin who would conceive… as a virgin! And her son would not only bring deliverance to His people, but he would actually be the deliverer!

So many times in Scripture, and in our daily lives as well, we think we understand what God means and what He has said. But quite often, we only understand a portion of His word… only a part of His will is truly understood. As we light the second purple candle in our Advent Wreath, we do well to remember the apostle Paul’s words from centuries later, when he wrote “Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known.” Only when Christ comes back again, will we finally be able to see the big picture the way God sees it… and has seen it all along.

PRAYER: Father God, we read your word and hear your message, and we think we understand your will and your ways. But just like Ahaz and Isaiah, Paul and the prophets, we only see a part of what you are doing. We don’t understand your ways or what you’re trying to do. Teach us to trust You and Your Holy Spirit as you lead us and guide us… whether it makes sense to us or not. AMEN

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Next Great American Band

I have friends who faithfully follow American Idol and even blog about them. I’ve never seen much reason to bother with such fad shows… until last night.

There’s a new twist (from the same folks behind the American Idol craze I understand) where the competitors are bands, rather than individual acts. The show is on FOX on friday evenings at 9:00 and is called The Next Great American Band.

As I said, I saw part of one Americam Idol show once and I must have just caught a bad act because I’ve never since wanted to watch again. But my wife and I had decided we were going to attend a Christian concert sponsored by the Family Life Network with a group called Denver and The Mile High Orchestra this weekend and we found out the concert was cancelled because they were in Los Angeles for this competition.

Having heard the band’s Christmas album a couple of years ago and fallen in love with their integration of Christian with Christmas performed with a big band flavor, I DEFINITELY HAD TO watch!

I also really liked the Clark Brothers and Sixwire. I thought the kids group was cute… but then realized they were boys and weren’t trying to be cute. I didn’t like their music… it sounded like pre-pubescent voices trying to imitate something they once heard. Which is pretty much what the judges said as well.

To tell you how much this competition caught my attention… I actually called the number on the screen and voted for Denver and his band! And I look forward to next week in order to watch again!!!

Anybody else watching this? Any thoughts?

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A New Start…

Yesterday, Josh got to start school for the first time yesterday. We have a new pre-school program in our district and we went and visited on Tuesday and then he started on Wednesday.

Of course, my son has never had to line up before… and as Gay dropped him off for school the teachers were getting the kids lined up to go to the bathroom to wash their hands… and she heard Josh declare: “I’M FEELING GWUMPEE!”

The teacher later told me that he declared he was “ANGWEE” when he couldn’t keep playing at the sand table. She wonderfully dealt with it and he was happy again in no time.

One of the problems I feel I had as I was growing up was that I never really learned how to express what I was really feeling inside (appropriately at least). I guess our goal of teaching him to identify and express emotion is working! (Now, how about tying shoes or picking up toys???!!!)

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