While driving through Irvington this week, our son longingly stated, “At least there are a few Christmas lights left. I see some blue ones right now. I wish they would stay all the time.” In fact he wishes all that Christmas brings would stay all year long. But inevitably the lights do come down. Family and friends return to their homes and lives. Gifts get put away, the carols stop playing, and the messes get cleaned up. Even so, as Jesus followers, Christmas lasts all year long. For us Christmas is to be in and through every day.
God’s people, the Israelites, were waiting on a savior to come years and years before Jesus was born. They looked for that saving grace through God’s appointed Kings and through the prophets. The scriptures tell us that God’s appointed would bring his saving grace through healing division, speaking liberty and good news, setting God’s righteousness and justice loose in the land, releasing the prisoners, comforting those who mourn, and more.
Then Christmas came; Jesus was born to this world. And the very presence of God and God’s saving grace was wrapped in him, a person wearing a fragile human body just like ours. And Jesus explained what He…what Christmas… is all about. Jesus said,
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (From Luke 4)
Christmas is about God coming to make all creation new and whole. And although Jesus’ body ascended from this earth, He never left. He poured out the power of His Spirit to create a body of people… His body… called the church. You are a part of His body. We are Christ’s body, born to this world to carry His grace. We carry the grace of His birth. We are to carry the grace of Christmas.
Every year I post on social media this reminder by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
May we celebrate Christ’s coming all year long. May we BE Christmas people all year long.
Saturday, January 23, from 9am-2pm, The Winter Summit! This church has completed nearly every goal from your Fruitful Congregation process. Wow! As we continue to live into Christ’s calling, committees of ministries will be gathering to prayerfully discern and form goals for the coming year or longer. Ann Handschu, with the INUMC Office of Congregational Development and the Conference Connection team, will be leading the summit. We will also be setting forth the process for fulfilling and tracking these goals. Please be in prayer for this important time of furthering Christ’s ministry through Old Bethel. If you are not on a ministry committee or team but would like to attend, please email Pastor Jen at email@example.com.
Consider serving as a reading mentor at Pleasant Run Elementary School once a week during school term (for 1 hour). Mentors read with or do homework with one student, that is selected for them. Contact Nancy Bellinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are invited to become a Braeburn Apartments Homework Helper. Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year, 3:30-5pm, helpers meet with students in the clubhouse to assist students with reading and homework. Contact Mackenzie Imbro at email@example.com to learn more.
The Wednesday Night Gathering resumes tonight, January 6. This is a time to share in a good meal, connect with church members and broader community members, and to grow in faith through different classes. Dinner is served at 5:30. Classes and groups for all ages and nursery care run from 6:15-7:00. Class offerings include…
· a study 2 Peter led by Nancy Bellinger
· a Bible study with Pastor Jen
· paper crafting & card making with Cheryl Platt & Carolyn Long
· Interactive Family Devotion time with Pastor Matthew
· English as a Second Language classes with Pastor Saul
· And coming soon, Getting Ahead classes for those wanting to get ahead in a getting-by world.
Please invite neighbors, friends, and other church members! Meals are $6 for adults, $3 for children, $15 for families residing in the same household, however all are welcome regardless of ability to pay.
Serving Christ Together,