Dear Friends and Family!
I could not help remember history as I just wrote Dec. 07. It was a date our President Franklin Roosevelt said in 1941 ‘would live in infamy’ as America tried to process the shocking news Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese drawing us into WWII. It was an unsettled time when the world seemed to turn upside down. As we process the shocking events of Dec. 02, 2015 be assured of this: God is still on the throne!
Perhaps it is fitting, then, the theme for the second Sunday in Advent is peace! While Satan does his best to destroy peace, Anna B. and Valda E. reminded us as they lit the ‘peace candle’ in our advent wreath and Sandy R. lead us in a responsive reading, that Jesus is indeed the ‘Prince of Peace’ and ‘Emmanuel’ (God with us). One day Jesus will return and everything will be restored to the peace and wholeness God intended!
God’s message this week came from Luke 3:1-6 and titled, “Christmas Preparations.” Are you ready for Christmas? As we continue our preparations for Christmas many will spend a lot of time and money purchasing the right gifts, right outfits, and right foods, but what about your heart and soul? Is your heart and soul ready for Jesus?
First, John the Baptist declares, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for Him” (Luke 3:4b). Your heart and soul is not prepared for Christmas until you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Don’t wait for a better day or until everything else gets done – your Christmas preparations begin by making a straight path to Jesus!
Second, v. 5 reminds us of our need to continue to grow in grace. John the Baptist tells us when Jesus comes prideful hills will be humbled; insecurities filled; crooked places straightened; and rough edges smoothed. As you prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth this year how has the Spirit of Christ challenged you? What needs to change?
Finally, John the Baptist wants us to reconsider the way we feed our hungry souls. I’ve watched many try feeding their souls with all sorts of toxic things leaving them broken and starving. After listing the powerful people in 3:1-2, Luke tells us the most important message of all time came to a wild man, yielded and hungry for God in the middle of the desert. When was the last time you were in the wilderness (anywhere quiet and alone) hungrily reading your Bible, praying, and yielded to the Spirit? May you preparations for Christmas include attending to your heart and soul, too! Blessings, Pastor Dan
NEWS AND EVENTS
NEXT NORTHEAST COMMUNITY POTLUCK IS SUN., DEC. 13
Do you like to eat? Do you like to laugh? Do you like to share your struggles and share your triumphs? If you said yes, you need to come to our next Northeast Community Church Potluck! It’s a great time to life. Not a single potluck passes without discovering something about one of you! So, invite a friend, bring something to share, and stay after our worship service for December’s potluck! If you would like to help set up or clean up, contact (call or text) Cherry P. (616) 916-7595 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE AT 6:00PM DEC. 24th
Make plans to invite a friend and come to church for a traditional time of ‘carols and communion.’ While we have had a variety of productions in the past, this year we are simplifying our Christmas Eve plans. Yes, we will still have an area where we can light a candle to acknowledge our pain and loss, and we will certainly sing ‘Silent Night’ as we close to candle light, but this year we’re planning to sing carols, read and reflect on the Christmas Story and receive communion as we focus on Christ this Christmas Eve.
THIS JUST IN… SPEND NEW YEARS EVE WITH US AND RECEIVE COMMUNION!
For years I’ve been asked to have a midnight communion service on New Years Eve and for years I’ve wondered if anyone (inc. me) would still be awake at midnight! But after talking this over with Janie I am excited to tell you we have a plan! Starting at 6pm, we will be praying board games, eating snacks, until approximately 11:30pm on Dec. 31.
At 11:30pm we will go over to the church, have a brief devotional, and together receive communion just after Midnight celebrating our new year with Christ. My plan is to give us an opportunity to ‘leave painful memories or failures of 2015’ behind and commit to living closer to Christ in 2016. After receiving the elements, this will conclude our plans.
Yes, you may come and go between 6:30-11:30pm or just come to church at 11:30pm or sleep through the whole thing (as I have done in the past). We do plan to have two ‘nap rooms’ set up at the parsonage if you want to come and need to take a quick nap or two! Please RSVP if possible and if you have any questions, please see Pastor Dan or Janie!
WED. NIGHT HAS MOVED TO THE PARSONAGE!
Although one person thought I was kidding (and found the church locked), we really have moved our Wed. night Bible study to the parsonage across the parking lot (883 Fuller Ave NE). We’ve done this to being good stewards by not heating the church over the winter. The Study is 6:30-7:30 and we will still eat ice cream! Hope to see you there!
NEXT THIRD THURSDAY CHINESE LUNCH IS DEC. 17 AT 11:30AM
Our next Third Thursday Chinese Lunch is Dec. 17 at the Hibachi Grill on Alpine Ave. It’s a time to eat, share joys, concerns and even laugh! Questions? See Tracy or Linda!
JOIN US FOR THE NEXT CHRISTMAS CANTATA PRACTICE! SAT. AT 10:00AM
About 12 people are practicing each Sat. from 10am – 12noon! It’s not too late to join us either! We could use a few more male voices (hint hint)! Beverly S. is leading us and she is a great choir director! Never sang in a choir? No problem! You’ll catch on quickly! Did I mention we have a snack time in the middle of the practice? Yum Yum! Fun Fun!
HONORING CHRIST’S BIRTHDAY BY LOVING THE HOMELESS!
Christ's birthday is fast approaching and to honor His special day, we are giving gifts to the least of these in our community - the homeless. Steve H. has put together a list of items we're collecting through Dec. 20th. Purchase items or provide a financial gift with a blue giving envelopes marked 'homeless project' and we’ll shop for you!
ITEMS NEEDED (MUST BE NON-PERISHABLE)
· Small packages of crackers, granola bars, and/or chips, 2 gal. Ziplock bags
· Socks, knitted caps and mittens, chapstick, toothbrushes, dental floss
· Travel sized toothpaste, deodorant, tissues, combs, small hand sanitizer bottles
· Band-Aids, bottled water, mints or gum, cough drops, small tissue packs
· Favorite Bible verses / encouraging words / Sm. New Testament Bibles
Bless you for bringing and giving a little CHRISTmas to those who may need it most! If you have any questions, see Steve H. or call or text him at: (616) 929-2195!
MISSIONARY BOOKS ARE IN GREAT DEMAND!
Sherry reported readership is up dramatically! As of Nov. 15 we’d read 119 books! If you’ve got one, read it/return it so others can read them! Not reading? See Sherry J. on Wed. or Sun. and get started! God is on the move! Read about it in the Missions books!
TURN AND DON’T GIVE SOMEONE THE FLU!
It’s that wonderful season when we learn how to use hand sanitizer and practice our best ‘fist bumps’ instead of giving hugs! Not sure what a fist bump is? It’s easy! Simply make a loose fist and gently reach out towards someone. In return, they will reach their fist out and gently ‘bump’ yours! It’ fun and easy way to say hi without catching the flu!
EAT SOUP AND GATHER BOX TOPS FOR NAZARENE INDIAN MISSIONS!
Thank you to everyone who is collecting Campbell Soup labels and General Mills box tops! While it seems small, the cash they generate really adds up! This program has provided PA equipment, computers, and even a 15-passenger van for Nazarene Sun Valley Indian School. Questions, labels and box tops should go to Fran S. and Sherry J.
Dec. 13 Northeast Community Potluck / Deadline to order and pay for Poinsettia’s
Dec. 20 Christmas Sunday! Christmas Cantata