Over the last few years, a new New Year's tradition has grown more popular - that of choosing a word to guide us in the new year. People choose a word to focus on - joy, peace, happiness, etc. - and work to grow in that throughout the year. Unlike a resolution that can be made like a rule to be quickly broken, a chosen word becomes more of a guide to lead us to a better life that we desire.
In worship on Sunday, we talked about God's gift of signs and words to guide us - just as the star and words of Scripture were gifts to guide the magi to the newborn king, Jesus. We also offered "star words." Like words people choose for the new year, star words are meant to be a guide to help us on our journeys. Star words are different, though, in that we do not choose them. Rather, they are a gift from God. We chose a star from a basket and on that star was a single word. This word is not of our choosing and may be one we would never think to choose for ourselves, but it can be a gift from God if we choose to reflect on what it means for our life and our journey.
Along with the star words, we handed out some instructions on how to reflect on this word. I would love to hear from you about your word, what you discover it means for you, and how you might follow it. If you were not with us or did not pick one up, the basket will be available along with the instruction sheets over the next few weeks. Make sure to pick one up one Sunday, or let me know if you would like me to send you one.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
The Best Christmas: Following the Star (Matthew 2:1-11)
As we come to the close of the Christmas season and pack away the all the decorations, we have one last lesson to learn about what made the first Christmas the best Christmas. After all, we haven't talked about gifts yet, and what is Christmas without a special gift or two? That first Christmas, there were a lot of gifts - although perhaps not traditional ones. There was Mary's deep faith and Joseph's faithful heart. There was the manger itself - a gift when no other room could be found. There was the angel's words to the shepherds and their gift of worship after finding the baby. No gifts from that first Christmas, however, come to mind like those three gifts of the magi: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They traveled many miles to worship the newborn king and bring him these three gifts fit for a king.
Yet before the magi ever set out on their journey, there was a gift greater than any of these three - the star to guide them. The magi were Gentiles and did not follow the way of the God of Israel. They had little to no knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures to tell them of the coming Messiah. The star was a gift to tell them that a great king - one worth going to see - had been born. And so they did. They followed it to Jerusalem, where the trail turned cold. So they asked where the new king was. It took King Herod, out of his fear of a rival king being born, asking of the priests and scribes where the king would be born. With their answer "Bethlehem," the star again began to guide the magi to their destination. The star was a great gift, to be sure, but it was not the only gift the magi needed to find the new king. God gave also the gift of words - the words of Scripture - to guide them along the way.
These words were not the only gift of words that first Christmas. The shepherds had told Mary of the angel's message, and she pondered and treasured these words. When Simeon prophesied about the newborn Jesus who came to be dedicated at the Temple, Mary was amazed by those words. Years later, when the teenage Jesus lingered in Jerusalem at the Temple, and Mary and Joseph rushed back to find him, she treasured his words to her. Mary surely treasured the words of the magi's tale of their journey following the star that was a gift to guide them.
God gives us great gifts to guide us on our journeys - signs and words alike. May we ponder them, treasure them, and let them be our guide along the way!
What kind of person does God want me to be? How can I be a better person to those around me? How can I make a greater impact on the world around me? Join us this Sunday as we explore what it means to bear fruit and to grow in fruitfulness in our new worship series on the fruit of the Spirit: "Bearing Fruit!"
Being United Methodist
This Sunday at 4 pm, we kick off our study "Being United Methodist." Over the next four or five weeks, we will explore our history and heritage, what we believe and how those beliefs are distinctive, and how we engage in ministry. Childcare will be provided. Please let Pastor Jim know if you are interested in joining us for this class!
Living in Community
Thank you, Dinah, for leading worship and bringing a great message last week!
Thank you, Davida, Linda, and Donnie for serving communion this past Sunday!
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, January 9
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Thursday, January 10
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, January 13
9:30 am - Worship: Bearing Fruit
11:00 am - Sunday School
Presentation on the Way Forward
4:00 pm - Being United Methodist
Wednesday at the Port resumes January 16
Everybody Always Book Study begins January 20
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!
8525 Water Street
PO Box 116
Port Republic, VA 24471