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Christmas is Coming... Are you Ready?

The question usually is a frequent one this time of year. Are you ready for Christmas? Usually, when I am asked I ponder the expectations of the person asking the question. In asking do they mean shopping? Decorating?  Socials?

 The answer to the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?”, can be one we overthink. The best answer has little to do with the trappings of the season but rather the state of our hearts. The most important question it seems to me, “Is my heart ready for Christmas?” And the simplest answer to the question is, “Yes, I am getting my heart ready to worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus this year.”  Hopefully, the series on Advent Conspiracy has helped focus on the more Biblical meaning of Christmas and preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord.

 When the birth of Christ is our focus our attitudes change and we see the world in a different way. The way we view others is different. Our relationships become the focus. In addition, our World and Nation will be more peaceful and loving if we focus on the birth of Jesus. The word says, “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory of the one and the only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14-15) The good news of God’s love for the world in sending His Son is needed as much now as ever. 

 We sure could use the real message of Christmas this year. We live in a time of quick judgement, insults, and negativity. Getting ready for Christmas is just what our Nation and World needs right now.  Can we get ready for,” peace and goodwill to all people?”  Imagine all of us ready for Christmas, at the same time, with the real focus being the birth of Jesus in our hearts…let it be so! 

Shalom,
Philip 

  

 

Give More

GIVE MORE

What was the most memorable, most impactful Christmas Present you ever received? I got stopped by someone in our congregation today who told me that her son was born on Christmas. She never received a gift as wonderful as her son. He only lived to be five years old, but she was so happy to have spent those five precious years with him.

This week, we are thinking about how we can give to others so that we reflect the greatest gift God could have ever given us, Jesus. Think about it.

The Father gave his one and only Son. God’s answer for the world’s problems has never been material things. God did not give us more stuff — even good stuff like work, food, or health. He gave us himself.
— Advent Conspiracy, Rick McKinley & Chris Seay, p. 65-66

Our job at Christmas is to reflect this joy of receiving Christ from God 2,000 years ago in every gift that we give to others. This can be done through physical gifts, through kind words, through the sacrifice of time, or even through anonymous giving. The goal is to reflect our relationship with Christ and our relationship with the person through love. One great way to show Christ's love is through relational giving.

EXAMPLES OF RELATIONAL GIVING:

  1. Research an organization or cause that is important to the person you are buying a gift for. Donate in that person's honor to that group. The key here is something that's important to them, not necessarily important to you.
  2. Purchase a gift that builds the relationship. An example from the book was a son who purchased his dad a bag of coffee. He told his dad that they would drink the bag cup by cup together. Every time they gathered to drink a cup, the son wanted to hear stories from the father's life and childhood. You could do the same thing with books, a dinner invitation, movie tickets, etc. The possibilities are endless.
  3. Spend time on a gift even if it doesn't financially cost you a lot. Another example from the book was a gift that was given to the pastor's wife. Someone in the church contacted a long list of people, asking them to send letters, pictures, cards, etc. to the person about how the wife had touched them. Then the person collected everything into a book. On Christmas morning, the person who made the book didn't even give it herself so that the pastor's wife could spend the time with her family reading and enjoying all of the things.
  4. Support a developing community or country as a family. As a family, choose something to support. Then, when you all decide not to purchase significant gifts but instead to make donations, you can share on Christmas morning the impact you made together as a family.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What's something you can do that communicates love?
  2. What's the most personal gift you've received in the recent years?
  3. How can you give the gift of God's presence to others?
  4. What is the biggest risk of relational giving
Advent Conspiracy, Rick McKinley & Chris Seay, p. 131: Give More Discussion Questions.

Thank you Susan

We have some staff news to share with our congregation. Our Director of Children’s Ministries, Susan McLain, will be retiring from her job of 11 ½ years. She has done an outstanding job and leaves behind a good foundation to build upon for the future.  She will be missed as Children’s Director. We will miss her as a church and I know by our staff. Over the next few weeks, I know you are going to want to join me and thank her for her many contributions to the children’s ministry.

As I am writing this tribute, I am imagining the thousands of children and parents who have benefited from Susan’s leadership for over a decade.  This would include eleven different Vacation Bible Schools, Blue Lake Camp, Fish Factory, Summer Camp, FCA, and many other weekly programs along with special events. The number of children influenced would be immeasurable.

Also, noteworthy are the hundreds of volunteers that Susan has recruited and put to work in this time. The Vacation Bible Schools alone have assembled an army of volunteers. Under Susan’s leadership, the children’s ministry has become not only vibrant within our church but also extending into the community. Programs such as After School Care, Bus ministry, and FCA have expanded the outreach for Shalimar UMC. We are indebted to Susan for leading the children’s ministry fruitfully all of this time, through transitions in the church, and bearing fruit for the Kingdom!

Where do we go from here? Our SPR has put together an interim plan for our immediate future. In the next few months, two dynamic persons from Susan’s team over the last eleven and half years, will serve as interims. They are Jennifer Leibold and Dawn Rozofsky. These two outstanding ladies will split the duties. We always knew Susan did the work of two people! In January, the SPR will begin addressing the needs present and future of our children’s ministry. They will also begin seeking a new director to fill this position hopefully for the next 11 ½ years!  We know good things are ahead for thechildren’s ministry at Shalimar UMC!

When she retires, Susan will be spending time with her family.  Also, we want to  thank Mike, Katie, and Molly for sharing Susan with us. We know she has served above and beyond the hours required by her job description. Our staff often acknowledges we see the staff more than our own families. We pray the additional time together for the McLain family will be a blessed and favored one from the Lord. One more good word is that Susan tells me Shalimar UMC will remain her church home.  We pray God’s blessing on this new chapter in Susan’s life and want to say THANK YOU SUSAN!

 Shalom,
Philip 

Posted by Philip McVay with

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