A Gift for Jesus
As we shared in last week's newsletter, we have a lot of opportunities to worship, to fellowship, and to give during this Advent season as we prepare for the coming of Christmas. Among those opportunities is the chance to make a special gift to Jesus for his birthday. As we have done over the last few years, we will collect a special Christmas Offering for Others at our Christmas Eve service (don't worry if you will not be there - you can contribute any time this month by making a note on the memo line of your check or envelope). This year's offering will support the mission work of our United Methodist Church to bring relief in areas of disaster, to create new faith communities, to raise up leaders for the future, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world! This is an especially important offering this year as our worldwide church has used a lot of resources in response to the many hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other disasters that have occurred.
Courtney and I have made it a tradition for at least a decade now to make a gift at Christmas Eve to match our spending on Christmas presents. When we first started, we tracked our spending and made a donation to match it dollar for dollar. Over the years, we have tried to cut back on our Christmas spending to focus on what matters: spending time with family and friends, helping others, and honoring God. As we have reduced our spending, however, we still match the amount we used to spend rather than just what we spend now so that our gift has not gotten smaller. This year, we plan to give our usual $600 to Jesus for his mission in the world, and it is one the biggest blessings of our year to be able to save up to make this gift! We hope that you will join us in celebrating Jesus' birth through a gift of your own!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
Christmas in Five Words: O (John 1:1-14)
There is a simple word that enters into our vocabulary each December - at least when we are singing along to the good old Christmas Carols. That word is "O" - a short, simple word that expresses such deep meaning. We do not use it much in our everyday speech or in our singing much of the rest of the year, but it features in Christmas carols to express the wonder and awe of what Christmas means. This wonder and awe is what we find in John's account of Jesus' beginnings. He does not have the familiar story of Mary and Joseph, the angels and shepherds, the wise men and gifts. He starts where the Bible itself starts - in the beginning. In poetic terms, he speaks of the Word that was with God and was God through whom all things were made. He tells of the life that was the Light of all people. Darkness fell across creation, but the Light endured. Eventually, the Word - the Light - became flesh and made a home among us so that we might become God's own children. John has awe and wonder at the true miracle of Christmas - that the God through whom all things were made became our neighbor, our brother, one of us. God's solution to the problem of sin and darkness was not destruction or saving the few righteous but to come to us and become one of us. This is incredible - beyond belief. It is no wonder that John has to resort to the language of poetry to tell of this miracle. No story, no regular words, could express the awe at the incredible act of God becoming one of us and making a home among us. That is what the word "O" is about - awe at the incredible works of God! It is not a mere "Oh!" that means we are a little surprised by what we have experienced but understand and accept it. "O" means that we are not only surprised but are humbled, perhaps even a little fearful in a reverent sense, at what is happening. That God became one of us, made a home here, and is with us today is an awe-inspiring, life-changing revelation. It is not just surprising but amazing and a little fearful. With the birth of any child, we know that life will never be the same for that family - in a good and yet challenging way for the family. In the case of Jesus' birth as Emmanuel - God with us - that family is all of us. Our lives will never be the same in a good yet challenging way!
Bible Study Schedule
Our John Bible Study at Dianna's house has resumed with the following updated schedule:
Dec. 11 @ 9:30, Dec. 12 @ 7:00 - John Chapter 6 vs. 30-71
Dec. 18 @ 9:30 and 7:00 - John Chapter 7
Jan. 02 @ 9:30 and 7:00 - John Chapter 8 and 9
Everyone is welcome to attend either the morning or evening session!
Pop Quiz, Part 2
This Sunday in worship, Pastor Jim gave a pop quiz on Christmas carols, and you passed with flying colors! If you want to test out your smarts about Advent, try this online quiz. Can you answer these ten questions?
Living in Community
Thank you, Mark, Susie, and Linda, for serving communion this week in worship!
Thank you, Jodie and Davida, for lighting our first Advent candle in worship!
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, December 6
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Thursday, December 7
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, December 10
9:30 am - Worship: "Christmas in Five Words: Come"
11:00 am - Sunday School
7:00 pm - Christmas Program with the Spotswood Choir
Cookie reception to follow!
Freewill offering to benefit the choir
Football at Town Park, December 17th, 2-4 pm
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service - December 24th, 11:00 pm
Working with At-risk Children Workshop - January 17th, 6 pm
Wednesday at the Port resumes January 24th
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!