Northeast Community News – December 27, 2013
Dear friends and family,
What wonderful Christmas and Christmas Eve Services we had this week! I know some of you are already back to work while others are busily enjoying the last few days of their Christmas break! This week we begin to look forward to the New Year! But first, let us reflect on the wonders of Christmas!
THANK YOU – THANK YOU – THANK YOU!
It takes a small army of people to have a wonderful Christmas Eve Service! While I will most likely miss someone(s), we can thank:
· Naretta, Kamrie, Kathyrn, Morgan, Alannah, and Shannen for their help with making all of the Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer props!
· Theo for making the small crosses by hand and helping hang them, lead the luminary building efforts, and being our regular Christmas Eve ‘greeter at large.’
· Theo, Gary, Shannen, Pastor Amy, Pat, and Julie for making and setting out the luminaries and then cleaning them up!
· Pastor Amy for ‘rallying the troops,’ assigning and coordinating helpers, ordering pizza, and running and managing the nursery on Christmas Eve!
· Gail, Naretta, Alannah, and Jeni for reading, Jean for playing the piano, Shannen for carrying the large wooden cross forward and inviting people via Facebook and Tara for playing her guitar and singing ‘Love Came Down’ when it came time to respond!
· Irene and Pastor Amy for preparing, serving, and cleaning up our light refreshments after the Christmas Eve Service! (yum!)
· But especially I want to thank ‘Jane his wife’ (think the Jetson’s if you’re old enough) for all she does behind the scenes to love Jesus, support this church, and provide the physical and emotional support needed when God stretches us beyond our comfort zones and abilities! Janie is a tireless worker who’s always there…period!
Please forgive me if I forgot you! I really didn’t mean it! But God showed up, we were all blessed, and He was glorified! Amen!
I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! As you know, we had to cancel what would have been our Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=f7Ex9Id-wDk/. Below is also a summary. service on Dec. 22nd because the weather was just awful. I was able to record the Christmas message and it is still available on YouTube at this link:
Our Christmas message came out of Luke 2:1-21. While there are many angles from which we can look at and marvel upon Christmas, we will look at just a few of them.
First, Christmas is the ultimate demonstration of God’s faithfulness to a dark and sinful world. Like the stinky manger that our Savior was born into, our hearts are rotten with sin. On Christmas, Jesus comes to the world to meet our real need. He doesn’t come to the version of us wrapped in ribbons and bows, the version of us with a great PR campaign, or the version of us which is all Hallmark smiles and fluff.
No, Jesus comes to the real us, the us that knows for certain we are part of the “all” when Paul says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans). Jesus comes not in spite of our sin, but because of it. He knows that we need to be delivered from the power of sin and death, and He knows that only He can meet that need. And so He comes.
Second, Jesus’ humble birth and life of servant hood show us a lot about the all-inclusiveness of God’s kingdom. God reveals the news of the birth of the Savior to Shepherds, who at that time were among the last on the social ladder. They were rough, dirty, uneducated, ceremonially unclean people. But these are who God chose first, and it shows that in Jesus God is doing something new. The first are last, and the last are first.
The angels who speak to the shepherds refer to good news for ALL PEOPLE. Jesus comes to set ALL PEOPLE who believe in Him free from the power of sin and death. It is good news for the shepherds, for the woman at the well, for the sinner who died on the Cross next to Jesus. For you and for me. Good news for ALL sinners without exception.
Last, Christmas confronts us with Jesus, and asks us how we will respond to this grace of God which is reaching out to our hearts in this baby born in Bethlehem. It is hard to be neutral about Jesus during this season, because He is kind of in your face.
The angel speaks of ALL PEOPLE, but to the Shepherds, the angel says “This will be a sign….to you” (Luke 2:10-12) God pours out grace equally to ALL PEOPLE, but at the same time calls us to individual response from the depths of our individual hearts. The response of the Shepherds after encountering the angels and the baby Jesus, was to return to their normal lives, and “praise and glorify God” (Luke ).
When we are glorifying God, we are living in such a way that it is evident to those around us that our lives are yielded to God entirely. The focus is not on what we are or are not doing, but it is on God what He has done for us through Christ.
In Philippians 3:7-11 (please read!), Paul says that the best of the best of himself, those things which he could be most proud of, those things which won him approval in the eyes of others, those things were rubbish compared to the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (v8). He then says that our approval from God is not based in any way on our own works, but on what Christ has done for us (v9). The best of me and the best of what I can do is total rubbish compared to knowing Christ as Lord who has saved me!!
Friends, this is why Jesus was born. He saw our need, and He met our need. When He went to the Cross, He died for us, giving us His righteousness as our own. We receive the gift of His righteousness and total acceptance from God, and in exchange we give Him our sin, darkness, pain, blackness, and death. We are approved by God not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has already done for us. The work has already been finished by Him, and we are loved and accepted fully by God because of it. What an unshakable foundation! What love, to come down to us!
Christmas, then, is not about trying harder to be good people. It is not a moral pep talk, nor is it a call to work harder to be approved by God. Rather, it is about receiving the gift of love coming down to free us from the power of sin and death. And then when we receive this gift, we can go back to our lives, along with the Shepherds, and praise and glorify God for all that He has done for us. Merry Christmas!
With love, Pastor Amy
REMEMBER! NO WED. NIGHT PRAYER AND STUDY NEXT WEEK!
We will not be meeting next week on New Years Day, but will restart our weekly studies on January 8th Hope you can join us then!
Hello from Pastor Amy, your Associate Pastor/Administrative Secretary
My office hours vary on Tuesdays, and you can always call! My responsibilities include preparing our weekly program, so if you have an event or prayer request to publish, please contact me! Also, we have a long, ongoing list of prayer requests. Please keep me updated. Requests will be pulled from the newsletter & program after three weeks.
NEWS AND EVENTS
Jesus if Lord of All begins at the New Year!
To start the new year, we are going to be taking the church through a teaching and preaching series titled “Jesus is Lord of All.” For anyone who is interested, books are available for individual purchase. This is a great way to dig a little deeper into your personal discipleship, and we encourage EVERYONE to get a book. Scholarships are available if cost is an issue. See sign-up sheets on the table at the back of the sanctuary or talk to Pastor Dan. We are ordering soon!
Christmas Tithes and Offerings
While we had to cancel our Christmas service on December 22nd due to terrible weather, the cost to run our building and the rest of our finances were not likewise cancelled. This is just a reminder that you can still give your tithes and offerings from December 22nd during our offering . Thank you for all who give and give generously to help support the many needs of this church!
Jonathan is going to Africa! Pray for him!
Jonathan Gingrich is one of our college students who attends Calvin College. He is leaving to visit Africa on January 6th at 12pm, and will be returning to Grand Rapids on January 27th at 6:30pm. Jonathan has a missionary heart with a passion to find ways to make sanitary water accessible in places around the world where it is not. His trip includes a visit to Mt. Kenya, Nairobi, Sedai, Samburu National Park, and more. Pray for safety in Johnathan’s travels, and that God would use this time for His glory! If you want to pray more specifically, see me for a copy of his schedule while there!
ALL CHILDREN Invited to School
We have started a new school class 15th for children ages 4 years old up to 5thgrade. There will be lessons, crafts, snacks, songs, and lots of fun with Pastor Dan and Pastor Amy. The truth is, it will be more of a party than a class! Don’t forget, we have nursery, teens, and two adult classes as well! Class will meet downstairs in the children’s room at . See you there!
Note to Nursery Staff
Dear nursery workers, please note that the new nursery schedule for the months of January and February will be out next week. I will print and email to each of you when it is complete. Love, Pastor Amy
First Chinese Lunch –
On the first of every month, everyone is invited to attend a Chinese lunch at at the Hibachi on Alpine located behind the Target. The food is cheap and delicious, and the fellowship is even better. Feel free to bring family or a friend. Talk to Tracy Tamm with questions. See you there.
Snow Shoveling – Volunteers Wanted!
We could use some help sharing the responsibility of shoveling our walks this winter. If you live close and want to help, we usually shovel the walks at the following times: AM and PM, PM, and AM. Talk to Pastor Dan or the trustees to help, or just show up with a shovel anytime you are available!
No Night Bible Study – Happy New Year!
First Chinese lunch, Hibachi Alpine
Family Church/Communion – No Children’s Church
Jesus is Lord series begins!