Preparing for Christmas
As we finish off the Thanksgiving leftovers and see the last days of November fly by, our attention turns, of course, to Christmas. It will not be long before the holiday arrives, so there are many preparations to be made. As we prepare for Christmas, in the church we celebrate the season called Advent - the anticipated arrival. We anticipate the Christmas holiday with all of its gifts and cookies, and we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ child. Part of Advent is also the anticipation of Jesus' return - a time of promise when all things will be made right and God's work of redemption, resurrection, and re-creation will be made complete. As we prepare our homes for Christmas, we are also called to prepare our lives for Christ to return. Through prayer, sabbath, and worship, we have the opportunity in this busy season to make the preparations that truly matter.
Here at Port Church, we will have several opportunities to do just that over the coming weeks. On December 14 and 15, we will hold our Live Nativity Drive-Thru from 7 pm to 9 pm. Come out and be a part of bringing God's story to life, and take the time to experience the story yourself by driving through. On December 23 at 7 pm, our choir will present their Christmas cantata and musical celebration. We will have two opportunities to worship on Christmas Eve - 5 pm and 11 pm. Both services will include candlelight and communion. Prepare your hearts for God this Advent!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
Promises to God: Witness (1 Corinthians 15:3-10; Hebrews 12:1-3)
As we conclude our series on the vow we have made to faithfully participate in ministry, we turn our attention to the final way we have promised to do so - through our witness. To witness is to report what we have seen to establish the truth of a matter. As Christians, we witness to what we have seen God do to establish the truth of what has happened and who God is. To explore how we are to witness, let us first consider how we have received the witness of others.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews affirms that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses that we should run the race marked out before us focusing on Jesus. This image of a race reveals something important about the witness of others and our own witness. There are different types of races with different goals. In a sprint, we run full-out to win. In a long-distance race like a marathon, we run at a more intentional pace hoping just to finish. Faith is more like the latter than the former, but perhaps there is a better race to consider as a metaphor for faith - the relay race. In a relay race, we run our leg as best we can with others cheering us on. One of the key elements of the relay is the handoff - how we receive the baton passed to us and how we pass along what was first given to us are essential to both completing and winning the race. This is witness - the witness we receive from those who are out ahead of us and the witness we pass on to those who follow us. Moreover, we run the same course marked out by those who have already run it because we have the encouragement of their witness.
Paul sees the handoff of the faith through witness as essential in his First Letter to the Corinthians. We see an example here of his own witness to them - passing on to them what he received. He details the life of Jesus and salvation we find in his death and resurrection in accordance with Scripture. He points to the witness that he received Jesus' disciples and followers. Then he turns to his own experience - his own story - of how Jesus worked in his life. This is all a part of his witness, and all these elements are a part of our own witness. When we witness, we share the words of Scripture, the stories we have heard from others, and our own stories as well. Witnessing is not just about the Bible but also about our life stories and the stories from the lives of others. Paul demonstrates all of these in this brief witness to who Jesus is.
What stories do we need to tell? What stories are a part of our witness?
Update on Veterans Snack Mission
Last week, Dianna and Bob responded to our remembrance of veterans on Veteran's Day by inviting us to provide snacks to those undergoing treatment at the VA Hospital in Richmond every other week. Here is an update from them:
Veterans Snack Mission: Our 1st Veterans Snack Mission to the VA Hospital in Richmond was November 23. We took 4 dozen cookies and placed them on the serving table. We also placed a picture of Port Church with an inscription expressing our heartfelt thanks for their service. The smiles, laughs, "MMMM Good" comments and lip smacking told the whole story. We took home an empty container...not even a crumb was left. Our mission is a quiet one, but our witness for Jesus is sweet. Thanks so much for all that have helped and for those who are helping in the future. Our 2nd Veterans Snack Mission will be December 7th. Please keep this outreach mission in your prayers. With God's guidance we will continue this for one year or maybe longer.
God's Blessings...Dianna and Bob
Sign Up for Nativity Drive Thru
It is almost time for our Live Nativity Drive-Thru on December 14 and 15! Sign ups for both nights are underway, and several scenes are close to full. We are hopeful we can fill both nights, but we can't do it without you! We still need adults and children for a variety of roles. Don't forget to sign up this Sunday at church, or contact Davida this week!
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, November 28
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
6:00 pm - Youth Group
6:30 pm - Hanging of the Greens
Thursday, November 29
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, December 2
9:30 am - Worship with Communion: The Best Christmas - The Deepest Faith
11:00 am - Sunday School
Poinsettia Order Deadline - December 9
Drive-thru Nativity - December 14 & 15, 7-9 pm
Christmas Cantata - December 23, 7 pm
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!
8525 Water Street
Port Republic, VA 24471