Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
This is our final Lighthouse for the year 2016, so I wanted to take a moment to go ahead and say, "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" It is hard to believe that we are already at the closing of this year and are getting ready for a new one in just a couple of weeks. As I reflect on this past year, I am in awe and wonder at all that God has done in and through our community. We have had two successful sessions of Wednesday at the Port and added an adult class this fall. We published our cookbook and held a potluck to sample a lot of the wonderful dishes included. We forged ahead with and even improved our Vacation Bible School despite some challenges with space availability at the school. The kids raised $2000 to help the hungry, about twice what they raised just two years ago! The youth raised over $3000 with their Chili Cook-off and Silent Auction for mission work this fall! We celebrated the 100th anniversary of the sanctuary, recognized several graduates, and welcomed new youth and adult members. It has been a full and blessed year! I am thankful for each and every one of you who has made our work together possible! God has another great year in store for us, because there is a lot of the work of Christ left to be one. May God bless you with rest, peace, and renewal over the coming holiays so that we get back to it in the new year!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
As we approach Christmas Day, we are Unwrapping Christmas to see what it is really about underneath all the paper and boxes.
Sunday's Sermon Snippet:
Bearing God (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:46-55)
Among Isaiah's prophecies, we find this short promise of a young woman who would bear a child who would be called Emmanuel - literally, God with us. Isaiah gave this prophecy as a sign that God would save the people, but this is far more than just a sign; it is also a promise of hope. Fast forward a few hundred years, and we find a young woman named Mary minding her own business when an angel appears to her with the message that she would become the mother of God's son. Although confused and worried by the encounter, Mary responds, "I am the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Later, upon her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, Mary sings a song of praise to God in which she notes her humble standing in life and yet how God has chosen to honor her with this role of being the mother of God's son. For her part, Christians across generations have honored her as the Theotokos - "the Mother of God" or "God-bearer" in Greek. Mary is honored because she is the one to have brought Emmanuel - God with us - to actually be with us. The fact that God has come to live among us as one of us is amazing - God knows firsthand our joys and sorrows, our triumphs and follies, our love and our fear. What's more, though, is that in coming to be with us God has also done great things as Mary sings in her song - lifting up the poor and humbling the proud and showing mercy across the generations. All this because God became Emmanuel in the form of the baby Jesus. All this because of Mary - the God-bearer. Yet the work of God is not yet done. A mystic of the medieval days, Meister Eckhart, said, "We are all meant to be God-bearers, because God is always needing to be born." What does it matter if Jesus was born to Mary so long ago if he is not also born into our hearts today? What do all the presents, lights, and cookies matter if we do not bear God out into the world? We live in a hurting and broken world, and we are meant to be God-bearers carrying God out to those who need to see and feel the divine presence. Who are we to help bring life to the barren places, to shine light into the darkness, and to bring justice and peace to the oppressed? We are the servants of the Lord; may it be with us according to God's word!
Living in Community
Thank you, Joe and Jean Bowman, for lighting our Advent candles this week!
Thank you to Linda and a wonderful choir that shared the greatest story ever told at our cantata last night! Thank you to everyone who baked the delicious cookies and the folks who served them at the reception! It was a blessed night for all of us who had the privilege of being there!
This Week at Port Chucrh
Monday, December 19
Evening Bible Study at Dianna's
Tuesday, December 20
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
7:00 pm - Longest Nights Service of Healing
Wednesday, December 21
Morning Bible Study at Dianna's
Thursday, December 22
Saturday, December 24
7:00 pm - Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service
Sunday, December 25
10:30 am - Worship: "Unleashing Christmas: Treasuring Jesus"
Children's Church and Sunday School cancelled
The Church Office will be closed the week of December 26-January 1 for the holidays.
The Lighthouse will not be sent out next week. See you in the New Year!
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!