It’s hard to believe that Halloween has past, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. When I was a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday (and it still is!) In high school I would decorate my backpack with garland, battery-powered christmas lights, and a stuffed santa hat, and I would force myself to wait until the day after thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music. I absolutely loved (and still do love) all those sappy romantic Christmas movies that play on the Hallmark Channel.
While I do still strongly stand behind the idea of waiting for the proper time to celebrate holidays, as a church musician/employee/volunteer, we have to start thinking and planning for holidays WAAAYYYY ahead of time. I have been searching for Christmas music since August, and the choir has been practicing for our annual cantata for the past month! While sometimes it feels strange to be discussing/practicing so far in advance, I believe that it adds to the anticipation we are supposed to be having for these celebratory holidays, especially Christmas. Advent is all about expectation and waiting for the Lord.
Our Christmas Cantata this year will be performed on December 10th in both the 8:30 and 11:00 services. We are doing a variety of anthems celebrating the birth of Jesus from quite a few musical eras. We will have the Chancel Choir, St. John’s Ringers, and a String Quartet at this event. If you are not or never have been involved in this event, I would strongly encourage you to come sing or perform during this event. It will change the way you experience the holidays!
November is a busy time for the children as we prepare for the holiday season to come.
The theme for the Sunday School classes is “Thankfulness”, as we thank God for all of our many blessings. Verses are from Jeremiah 1, (God calls Jeremiah); Luke 7 (A woman anoints Jesus’ feet); Psalm 138; and Luke 19 (the story of Zacchaeus).
The Younglings (4th and 5th graders) begin a food drive Sunday, November 5, to benefit the St. John’s food pantry and the Caring Place food pantry. Bins will be placed in the Fellowship Hall, the FLC and the Narthex of the Sanctuary. Non-perishable food items will be gratefully accepted through November 19th. The Younglings are also planning a fun outing at Jumpstreet in November and will assist in the Hanging of the Greens at the beginning of the Christmas season.
Speaking of Christmas – it’s not too early to begin planning for Saturday with Santa which will be December 9th this year. Donations have already begun arriving, so decide what you want to donate for the Store and what you would like to volunteer to do. This is great outreach to the community, so please be in prayer for the children and adults who make this happen. Ask Kathryn how you can be a part of this fun event!
“WHATEVER YOU DO, WHETHER IN SPEECH OR ACTION, DO IT ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS AND GIVE THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM.”
Dear Church Family,
I was talking with someone about the work of the church when he laughed and said, “Sounds like most of what you do is not for you.” It surprised me because I had never thought of it that way.
Whether we are planning worship, painting parking lots, hosting fellowship meals, or engaged in Mission Outreach, just about everything we do is really for someone else’s benefit. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection United Methodist Church, tells his new members, “Once you join this church, you need to understand you are surrendering all rights and privileges.” That prime up-close parking spot needs to be made available for visitors. Instead of chatting with just your friends, you make greeting the new folks your priority. Then you catch up with the people you’ve seen every week for years, if there is time. You sing songs and hymns that are not your favorite because they appeal to potential disciples. You may even have to sit in a new place during worship.
The point of this is not to make you uncomfortable or unhappy. It is simply what we do as Christ’s disciples. We make putting other people first a way of life, outside the church building as well as inside of it. It means we are willing to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced if it serves God’s purposes. Life is about change. Change is uncomfortable. We agree willingly and lovingly to do what is necessary to reach as many people for Jesus as we can. The conflict arises when we are trying to understand what is necessary and what is just someone’s preference. This is why it is so very important that we are working together. Together, we have a better opportunity to discern God’s Will.
My prayer is that our church is a place where we can be inspired, encouraged and prepared to be sent out into the world, not just a nice, comfortable place to hang out a few hours a week. When we ask God to use us in God’s service, I believe God takes us seriously. May God continue to bless us as we seek to love God and love all others.