In the Singing
If you weren't able to join us in worship this past Sunday, you certainly missed out on some powerful singing. As a part of our opening set, we sang one of my favorite Christmas songs - O Holy Night. It is one of those songs that is often reserved in church for the main solo during the Christmas Eve service, but we sang it perhaps a bit early and as a whole congregation. Hearing so many voices coming together to proclaim those gracious words, it was enough to give you chills down your spine.
There is something about joining in the singing. A while back on a Sunday morning, I was in the office getting ready for worship. There was one other person in the office doing a little of last-minute preparation herself. As we heard the praise band practicing down the hall in the sanctuary, she noted that she had heard the song they were practicing on the radio earlier that morning. She then commented on how much better it sounds when our band plays it than it did when the "professionals" played it. I knew exactly what she meant. So many times when our praise band leads our congregation in a song, I am struck by how much better it sounds than when I hear it on the radio. What is the difference? While we have a great praise band, I figure that they are no more proficient at playing than the professional artists recording the songs. I also doubt that our congregation as whole - especially with me on the front row - are better singers than the recording artists who make a living at singing. So what is it that makes our singing so powerful - enough to give you chills down the spine?
Maybe it's that we are joining together to make an offering to God. When we join together in the singing, what could have been merely a performance becomes true worship! It doesn't matter if the band misses the rhythm or if the preacher is singing out of key. It is an offering of the best that we have to God. I remember a worship teacher who once shared about his experience as a choir director in a large church that had several choirs. One of the choirs was made up of the best singers of the church who had auditioned. They were so proficient that they often traveled to put on special concerts at churches across the region. There was also a choir made up of anyone who wanted join in the singing - this choir was called "Joyful Noise." These choirs would take turns leading worship - that is, whenever the auditioned choir was even in town. After a while, the music director began to hear from folks about how much better and more meaningful worship was when one of the choirs was leading - "Joyful Noise!" When they led, it wasn't about the performance but rather the worship, and people could feel that as they joined in the singing. There is certainly something to joining in the singing to make an offering to God!
I hope that it is as meaningful to you to join in the singing here at Port Church - whether it is a new praise song or one of the old favorite hymns - as it is to me! Come and join in the singing whenever you can as we offer what we can to God.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
God's Christmas List
What would be on God's Christmas list? What did the prophets tell us God wants, and what was God up to just before the birth of Jesus? We are exploring these questions as we prepare for the coming of Christmas.
Last Week's Sermon Snippet: Joy
(Zephaniah 3:14-20; Luke 1:39-56)
Hope and love - the first two things we have found on God's list - are both things that God wants to give us through the gift of Christmas and wants us to share with one another. Is there anything that we can truly offer to God? God takes joy in seeing justice done - seeing the proud made humble and the lowly lifted up. God also takes joy in fulfilling the promises of old - some of them centuries old - that the children of God are finally ready to receive. God takes joy in seeing those children growing up to be the people that they were made and called to be. We can give the gift of joy to God as we commit to being the people God wants us to be - people of hope, of love, of peace, of light, and of contagious joy!
Looking Ahead: Peace
As we come close to the end of God's Christmas list, we find that one of the things that God wants most is peace. As we look at the world around us and all the conflict, arguments, and even war and violence that it contains, this gift seems to be one of the hardest to wrap up for God. How can we, just individual people in the midst of a complex world, even begin to think about creating world peace? Is this a gift we could ever possibly hope to give? Join us this Sunday as we find way to wrap up this great gift of "Peace" for God!
Football in the Park
Take a break from all the busyness of the holidays, and get some fresh air and exercise! Join us for a friendly game of football at the Grottoes Town Park this Sunday at 2 pm. We will play for about two hours. Older children, youth, and adults of all ages are welcome to play.
Longest Nights Healing Service
Are you finding the holidays to be a bit tougher this year? Have the circumstances of life stolen the joy you think you should feel? As the longest night of the year approaches, it is easy to think that the darkness - both physical and emotional - hold sway over our lives. Yet even on the darkest night, God's light still shines and brings us hope. Join us this Sunday at 7 pm for an informal service as we gather to celebrate the light and ask for God's blessing and healing in our lives!
Christmas Eve Dinner and Service
Join us on Christmas Eve at 7 pm for a service to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ! We will celebrate with singing, communion, and candlelight.
We will also offer a home-cooked Christmas dinner - ham, sweet potatoes, green beans, potato salad, and more! - before the service at 5:30 pm. Let Dianna know if you are planning to attend by Monday, December 14, so that we can ensure having enough food.
Living in Community
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, December 16
9:30-2:00 - Office Hours
Thursday, December 17
9:30-12:00 - Office Hours
11 am Sunshine Seniors Christmas Party at Wood Grill Buffet
Sunday, December 20
9:30 am - Worship: "God's Christmas List: Peace"
Return your Bottles for Change to support AVA Care during worship this Sunday!
11 am - Sunday School
2 pm - Football at Grottoes Town Park
7 pm - Longest Nights Healing Service
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!