What a wonderful job you all did with the Drive-Thru Nativity this year! Thank you to one and all that helped in so many ways! We had 100 cars come through on Friday night and another 140 on Saturday night. When we put on programs like this and Vacation Bible School, it is easy for us to be excited by and focus on the large numbers of people we are reaching. But I hope that we will not get lost in the numbers and forget the most important number: one!
On Friday night, I spoke with people and gave them a program of the scenes that they had just witnessed. As one young woman pulled forward from the Wise Men scene - our last - she rolled down her window and stopped to speak with us. "Thank you for coming out tonight! Merry Christmas!" I said. "Thank you all for doing this! It was amazing!" she responded as she wiped away the tears from her cheek. "Merry Christmas!" She began to pull away, but then slowed and stuck her head out the window back to us. "Are you doing this again tomorrow?"
Hers was only one of one hundred cars to drive through that night, and she was just one of the two hundred forty families to see our Nativity this weekend. While we celebrate the numbers, I pray that we also remember that those numbers represent a bunch of ones - people and families seeking to grow in relationship with God! May we reach every one of the many that reach out to us!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
In these weeks leading up to Christmas, we are "Unwrapping Christmas" to get past the beautiful wrappings to the true meaning of Christmas.
Sunday's Sermon Snippet:
Bringing Justice (Isaiah 11:1-9)
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at this passage from Isaiah focusing on the new shoot from the stump of Jesse to help us understand how Christmas brings new life in the barren places of our lives. This week, we return to this passage to explore what Isaiah says about this new shoot - the new king for God's people. First, he would be a new kind of king - one crowned not with jewels but with the very Spirit of God that would allow him to rule wisely in a way none of his forebears had. Secondly, Isaiah tells us that he would judge the poor with righteousness. This is not judgment as we tend to think of it. The new king would not judge the poor as in a court of law to determine guilt but be like one of the judges of old. In the book of Judges, the people of God would come under oppression from some other people and cry out to God for help. God would then raise up a judge, not to determine who was guilty, but to bring God's justice into the situation by overthrowing the oppressors. This new king of God's people would be also be a new judge, one who would bring justice for those who are oppressed by others. Lastly, the result of this new king's rule would be a world of peace unlike any we can imagine - a kingdom in which the wolf and lamb live together and a child can put a hand in the viper's den without being hurt. This beautifully poetic world that Isaiah describes is wonderful perhaps but also absurd compared to the world in which we live. So far do we live from this kind of peace that it is hard for us to imagine how it could ever come to pass. Yet, that is a part of Christmas when we unwrap it of its outward trappings - it too is absurd. Christmas is about worshipping a child because we believe he could change the world like no one else could. It is about a birth long ago that we believe changed everything about how we live our lives. It may be absurd but it is Christmas at its most basic - God sending a child to bring justice and a new kind of peace to the world. May we join him in being judges for the poor and oppressed that bring justice and peace to this world!
The Story of St. Nicholas
Nicholas of Myra lived about 300 years after the time of Jesus Christ. He was born to wealthy Christian parents, but they died in a plague that hit their town. He went to live with his uncle, a man also called Nicholas who was a bishop overseeing the churches in the area. The boy studied under his uncle and was interested in the faith. He became a priest and eventually a bishop himself.
Later in his life, Emperor Constantine who had converted to Christianity himself called a meeting of the bishops to settle the issue of certain beliefs thought to be heretical. Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea which developed the Nicene Creed to express what was thought to be the essential right beliefs about Jesus. At the meeting, the discussion became so heated that Nicholas punched one of the proponents of heresy in the face.
Nicholas cared deeply for the people under his in care in Myra. One poor man had three daughters but could not afford the dowry for any of them to marry. Without marriage, the women would likely have been forced into a life of prostitution. Nicholas, having inherited his parents' wealth, wanted to help but did not want to embarass the man. So one night, he took three bags of coins and threw one into a window of each of the daughters' rooms. In the morning, the daughters awoke to find the purses to secure a better future. This first gift of Saint Nicholas was about seeing justice done for these young men.
Living in Community
Thank you, Pam, for arranging our visit from Saint Nicholas this past Sunday!
Thank you, Chris, for playing the part so well!
Thank you to the Bowman family, especially Amelia and McKenzi, for lighting our Advent candles!
Thank you, Davida, for organizing our Drive-Thru Nativity and to all the many hands that pitched in to make it happen!
Thank you, Wanda, for helping us take a picture of the congregation for Tristan!
Thank you, Amie, for putting together a great surprise for Tristan and including all of us!
Please remember the family of Rev. Randy Arrington in your prayers upon his passing.
This Week at Port Church
Monday, December 12
Evening Bible Study at Dianna's
Tuesday, December 13
7:00 pm - Cantata Practice
Wednesday, December 14
Morning Bible Study at Dianna's
5:30 - 7:00 pm - Youth Group
7:00 pm - Cantata Practice
Thursday, December 15
9:00 - 11:45 - Office Hours
Friday, December 16
3:00 - 9:00 pm - Youth Service Project and Journey to the Manger
Sunday, December 18
9:30 am - Worship: "Unleashing Christmas: Bearing God"
11:00 am - Sunday School
7:00 pm - Chirstmas Cantata
Tuesday, December 20
Do the holidays have you down this year? Are you struggling with pain, grief, or doubt?
Join us for our Longest Nights Service of Healing at 7 pm.
Saturday, December 24
Christmas Eve Service at 7 pm
Join us for carols, candlelight, and communion!
Our Christmas Eve Offering will benefit our Window & Building Fund and our World Service Fund that supports missionaries around the world. Please consider giving a special gift to Jesus this Christmas.
Sunday, December 25
Worship at 10:30 - Come as you are; pajamas welcome!
No Sunday School.
Wednesday, January 25
Wednesday at the Port resumes!
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!