Christmas Eve was a wonderful night at Old Bethel. Our Family Ministries Team put together a memorable Christmas Pageant featuring our children and youth. Nancy Bellinger and Leanna Zimmerman added some nice humorous touches this year that will make the story of the first Christmas stick in the hearts of these children. There was such a lively spirit and we had the strongest attendance (195) for this particular service during the six years I’ve been at Old Bethel. Our Traditional Candlelight service had a nearly packed sanctuary, beautiful music and were reminded that babies teach us the best things in life are not what we create but what God does. These are the true miracles in our lives.
Our family had a wonderful Christmas with seven of our eight children present. We had tried to simplify things this year by letting others contribute to the meal and cutting back on the number of presents. We wanted to make Christmas more about being together. So we tried a couple of new things this year. After opening our gifts we had everyone participate in a Dirty Santa Gift Exchange where each person contributes a gift, you draw numbers and the first person opens their gift. The next person then can steal that gift or open theirs. Then you have one more round where you can steal anyone’s gift or keep the one you have. It was fun and we plan to do it again.
Then we had an evening of games that we turned into a competition. We put a basket out and invited each person to put in a donation and then name their favorite charity. We ended up playing three different games using an adapted scoring system. My son Devin ended up winning the competition, so we donated $280 to the Wounded Warrior Project. It was fun making our Christmas celebration less about us and more about others.
It has been very quiet in the office this week. Most of our staff is on vacation or using their remaining PTO days. I did have a nice conversation this week with a couple that has recently started attending Old Bethel. I asked them what led them to Old Bethel in the first place and learned that 15 years ago he had some family members who were struggling financially and so he utilized the Food Pantry on their behalf. So when he and his wife were discussing the need to get their children in church he insisted that they at least try Old Bethel first. They loved it immediately and appreciate our current focus on teaching the Bible in worship with the Disciple Fast Track Series.
Be sure to pray for our youth tonight at the New Year’s Eve Lock-in from 8 pm to 8 am. They will ring in the New Year with worship and will spread out in the church to pray for our 2015 ministries.
This Sunday we start our new 12-week series on the New Testament by taking a look at the book of Matthew where we will discover the writer was a Jewish author writing primarily to a Jewish audience. Did you know there are 65 Old Testament references in the book of Matthew, far more than any other New Testament book? I pray that you will be challenged to consider the radical call Jesus makes upon our lives and consider how much we tame Jesus in order to protect ourselves from change. In preparation read as much of the book of Matthew as you can; our focus scripture will be Matthew 11:1-6.
See you Sunday,