What Gift Shall We Bring?
As we approach Christmas this year, I am reminded of one of our family traditions when I was growing up. Each year on December 17th, Daddy would take off from work, and he and Mama would go Christmas shopping while we were at school. It might seem like some last-minute shopping, but there was a reason. That was their anniversary, and they spent the day together shopping - but not just for us kids. They would find a family in need, and they would celebrate their anniversary by buying things they needed and wanted. As my sisters and I became teenagers and adults, we wanted to do something to honor our parents on their anniversary, so we decided to do what they did. We found a family in need and did what we could to help. I remember one year buying groceries and sweatsuits for an elderly couple and another year getting presents for a pair of great-grandparents to give to the children they were raising. Thus, it became tradition in my family to celebrate my parents by doing something for others in their honor.
Thinking about Christmas, I believe that this is how Jesus would want us to truly celebrate his birthday as well - not with an excess of gifts or a glut of holiday cookies, but by loving and helping one another! This holiday season, we are offering several opportunities to do just that here at Port Church. You have donated so much in the way of food and items for Christmas baskets at the food pantry. Last week, I wrote to you about our Christmas Offering for Others. Today, I want to share with you about one last opportunity. As a part of our Birthday Party for Jesus following morning worship on December 24th (an event for all ages), we will be collecting gift cards for the teachers at South River Elementary. Bring in $5 gift cards to Target, Walmart, or Teacher Pay Teachers, write a card with encouraging note (cards provided at the party), and drop in our collection basket. I hope you will be a part of supporting our teachers who are on the front lines of helping the kids of our community!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
Christmas in Five Words: "Come" (Matthew 2:1-2)
Have you ever been somewhere you had wanted to be but you did not feel like you belonged? The feeling of not belonging in a place or among a group of people can be an overwhelming one. In the traditional Nativity scene, there is one group of people who do not belong there - the wise men. They are out of place having come from a foreign land to a humble abode of a newborn. They are amongst people unlike themselves - they are rich Gentiles amongst the common, poor people of God. On top of all that, they bring with them the looming trouble in the form of King Herod whom they asked for help in finding the newborn king. They do not belong here with Jesus - except that God had sent a star to let them know of Jesus' birth and to guide them along the way. The wise men do not seem to belong, yet they come because they are invited. Jesus is God's invitation for us to come and be a part of his story! We may not feel like we belong - perhaps because of our guilt, shame, unworthiness, fear of rejection, or lack of trust. Yet Jesus is knocking at the door saying, "Come, you belong with me!" Jesus opens the gates and calls us to be a part of his flock no matter where we may come from. Jesus' birth invites us to come be a part of God's story - to share the love of Christ that fills and sustains us, to lift up others by offering the grace given to us, to sing of the wonder that inspires us, to join on the adventure of going where only God would go, to be a part of the miracle of Emmanuel, God with us. God has come into out midst, and now we come to where we belong and honor him!
Journey to Bethlehem Village
Saturday, December 16th, we are traveling to Bethlehem Village in Afton. More information about Bethlehem Village can be found here. Initially, this was going to be a youth event but the youth group wants to open up this event to the entire church family!! We will meet at the church at 5:00 p.m. for pizza, leave for Afton Mountain at 5:45, and return by 9:00 p.m. You can ride the bus if room allows or you can follow the bus in your personal vehicle. Talk with Dinah for more details.
Living in Community
Thank you, Kara, Taylor, and Peyton,
for reading and lighting our Advent candle on Sunday!
Thank you, Mark, Susie, Ralph, and Kelly,
for getting our sanctuary ready for Sunday's choir program!
Thank you, Hannah, Julia, Daisy, Macie, and Brenna
and all the Spotswood High choir members, for a wonderful program!
Thank you, Sue, Debbie, and Joyce, and all the folks who donated cookies,
for making our reception possible!
Thank you to those who helped fill our Christmas Baskets!
Those baskets were truly blessed with so many different things
and will go to families that are in need this time of year.
This Week at Port Church
Monday, December 11
9:30 am - Bible Study at Dianna's house
Tuesday, December 12
7:00 pm - Bible Study at Dianna's house
Wednesday, December 13
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Thursday, December 14
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Saturday, December 16
5:00 pm - Trip to Bethlehem Village at Afton Mountain
Sunday, December 17
9:30 am - Worship: "Christmas in Five Words"
11:00 am - Sunday School
2:00 pm - Football at Town Park
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!