The season of Advent is inviting us to wait for the full experience of Christmas and the complete celebration of the birth of Jesus. Once again, we are called to the manger and then instructed to move out into the world as the people of God.
We come to the manger with hearts that are filled with memories of the past and a hopeful faith in the future. The experience of considering the birth of the Christ Child always stirs me with memories of family traditions but more than that…it continually challenges me to live a life of gratitude and generosity.
Indeed, the holiday season of Christmas is not just about gifts and trees. It is about gratitude and generosity that takes shape in our mind, shifts to our hearts, and is best expressed through our hands and our lips. Living a life of grace and speaking words of hope are central to our call as the people of God.
I hope this season of Advent is preparing you to live in grace and hope. We cherish the opportunities to speak joy into the lives of our friends and family during this time of year. We love to see the smiles of children, hear the songs of our faith, and be a part of bringing something special to the earth once again.
As a church, let me invite you to find some new and fresh ways to express your natural generosity this year. Find a place to serve, share your table with someone new, open your heart to a neighbor, or offer a gift to support your favorite mission. Make something good happen through your generous spirit!
The season is special for the church in many ways. We are blessed with special times of worship, beautiful music, and the flow of faith that brings us to a new year. I hope you will be a part of the full season of Advent and Christmas this year. Join your sisters and brothers as we read Scripture together with the Beyond the Manger devotions, be a part of worship from Messiah to Christmas Eve, and be sure to take in one of our programs for children as Christmas begins to grow in our hearts.
Be sure to do it all with a spirit of generosity in your heart and mind. Plan now to give generously as we come to Christmas Eve worship. This year our offering will support the Parker Task Force and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The Task Force helps people in our own area with food, jobs, and essential resources. The ministry of UMCOR reaches out to touch people all around the world when natural disaster strikes. Both are outstanding ministries. Be generous in spirit and in giving this year.
Last year our Christmas Eve offering was $19,740.00! That was wonderful, but I think we can top that this year with a fresh spirit of gratitude and generosity. Be sure to be a part of the blessing!
Christmas! Some say it is the most beautiful time of the year. Others wonder if they can make it through another day. Our task is to be the people of God in every setting. Live for the Lord, bless your family, and express your faith in every moment. If we do that, the year 2016 will be off to a great start.
God bless you all!