Worship Schedule
Join us this Sunday...

Classic Worship: 8:45 & 10 a.m.

Contemporary Worship: 11:15 a.m.

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Just a Thought or Two: A Change of Plans


(traditional worship with a more intimate atmosphere, includes special music and sermon)

(traditional worship with special music and preaching, including a children’s moment)

(contemporary, informal worship with preaching and children’s moment)

(First Methodist children present their annual traditional Christmas pageant)

(come one and all to dine, fellowship, and vote for your favorite chili!)

Plan B

I envy people who seem very sure of themselves, sure of who they are and where they are headed. You probably know people like that. By the time they were in middle school, they knew they would be a carpenter or a physicist, pilot or dancer. They never had to go “find themselves” because they never really doubted who they were and why they had been put on earth. I envy people like that.


Measure Twice and Cut Once

As you know Joseph was a carpenter. My experience with journeymen carpenters is they are planners. They are precise. They know how the project will go together from the word “go.” They anticipate the needed materials and they know with certainty how each step of the construction process will unfold.

When Matthew tells us Joseph discovered his fiancée, Mary, was pregnant, the carpenter tried to make sense of this talk about how she was “found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”

Then, Joseph made a plan. Instead of exposing Mary to public disgrace, Joseph “planned to dismiss her quietly.” (1:19, New Revised Standard Version)

Then, something happened which disrupted his plan: “But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.”

Plans are good to have in life and Joseph was a “measure twice, cut once” kind of guy.


Setting Aside the Plan

There is an advantage to wise life planning. Some of us swerve through life and make it a chaotic mess because we make it up as we go along. So, having a plan could have its benefits.

Yet, there is something to be said for being open to the possibility a better plan. Perhaps you were sure things would go one way, should go one way, and then events changed.

Now and then God sends messengers to us (some people call them angels), and our eyes are opened to new possibilities. Joseph wasn’t so “locked in” to his plan that he refused to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.


Going with Plan B

Angels, the Bible tells us, almost always begin by telling us “Don’t be afraid.” This is what the angel says to Joseph, and then the angel instructs the carpenter to take Mary as his wife. Joseph is told to name the child “Jesus” because he will save his people from their sins.

Not only is Joseph’s life radically different because he paid attention to the message of the angel, but all of history was changed as a result of the practical carpenter’s decision to go with “Plan B.”

I admire people who are good at planning and I respect people who do their best to anticipate every eventuality.

However, one of the essential characteristics of the well-lived life is openness to new possibilities. The abundant life rarely happens to those who refuse to be open to the new truth God gives them.

So, go ahead and plan. Do your best to be wise and anticipate the road ahead. However, when you are determined to do something keep your head, heart and soul open to the voice of God.

You may think you have it all planned out, and then an angel of God shows up and says, “Don’t be afraid, but God has another plan for you…”

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Join us in celebrating the birth of Christ making a joyful gift to our annual Christmas Offering.   This year’s offering will be divided equally among the following:

  • Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM) outreach to children.
  • Christian Camp scholarships
  • Mission Guatemala for children’s outreach.
  • Freshwater wells in the African nation of Burkina Faso.  (Some families may wish to give one or more wells, at a cost of $2,520 each, and provide safe water for several villages.)

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  • 1st @ First is a chance for anyone new to First Methodist & The Open Door to visit with a pastor, discuss programs, ministries, service opportunities, and Methodist faith.  It’s fun & informal.  Join us on January 8 @ 1:30pm in the Thurston Parlor Library at First Methodist (219 E 4th Street).
  • Also, New Member Class will be held Sunday evenings from 5:30-7 on January 22nd and 29th for those of you who are ready to consider expressing your love for God by joining membership at First Methodist & The Open Door. To register for this class, contact Cath Foreman at: cforeman@fumcb.org 

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Remember to tell your friends about the good we are doing in our community. This is a great time to begin sharing our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service schedule with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services

  • 5 pm – Family-friendly and interactive celebration
  • 8 pm – The Christmas miracle through message, carols and music
  • 10 pm – Rejoice during a service of Communion, lessons and carols

Christmas Morning Service
Christmas Day we will have one, combined service at 10 am.
Come prepared to sing Christmas carols in an informal setting, enjoy fellowship, and hear “Grandpa” tell a Christmas story.


Click here to view our full calendar of holiday events and services

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I am so glad we can worship together this Sunday morning, and then join the fun of the Children’s Christmas Pageant at 4 p.m. in the Sanctuary followed by the fellowship of our 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off in the Great Hall. See you there!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Mark



First Methodist