This Sunday at First Methodist
New Year’s Day Service: 10 AM in the Sanctuary
* One combined service this Sunday, with no regular Sunday School classes or separate Open Door service.
* Next Sunday, Jan 8th, we return to our regular schedule of services: 8:45 & 10 AM (Sanctuary) and 11:15 AM (Open Door)
CARING ENOUGH TO BOTHER
There was a perfect evening at a small lodge in northwest Ireland. I had officiated at a wedding at Drumcliffe Parish Church in County Sligo. Irish dancing was a part of the evening reception and party. A gracious young Irish woman invited me out on the dance floor, and she did her best to lead me through the steps. But it was a one-time thing. Something to remember but not something that became a part of my life.
Will the Child of Bethlehem become a part of our lives, shaping who we are and how we are, or will this celebration be a one-time thing? Is the way of Jesus our way of living and being, or will he -like the steps of the Irish dance- be something we only remember from time-to-time?
The parents who cared enough to bother
Following the account of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-20, the gospel writer explains why Jesus’ parents had him circumcised on the eighth day and named him Jesus (as the Jewish faith taught). Then, not long after that, the parents went to Jerusalem with their baby for the ritual of cleansing and to present their son to the Lord.
I’m not going to go into the meaning of each ritual, but what strikes me is the trouble Mary and Joseph went to so their son would grow up knowing God…and as a part of a faith community.
It took time and trouble for them to have the boy circumcised and named.
It took time and trouble for the couple to take their young child up to Jerusalem, where they participated in the ritual of cleansing and then dedicated their son to the Lord. I’m sure they had to reschedule some things on their family calendar. I’m confident they had to say “No” to some great opportunities so they could make the journey up to Jerusalem. (It is a bother getting the kids up and out the door, isn’t it?)
Parents who care still bother
Parents who care about their children in the deepest possible way still bother. They still bother to make sure their children are in the Temple (or church) to learn the story of God, to begin understanding that life is a journey we don’t take on our own but as a part of a larger community, and to give their children opportunities to soak up a truth they are never going to get from television, the internet, Wall Street or Hollywood.
The Jesus way of life is a very different way of life. Hikers, before they go off walking the Camino in Spain or make other pilgrimages, begin preparing themselves: they exercise, purchase good hiking boots, lose weight (usually), and plan on walking with others. Failing to do any of those things can mean the hiker or pilgrim will never finish the journey.
Parents who care about their children still, like Mary and Joseph, do everything they can to help their children connect with God and the God-community.
As we begin a New Year, I invite you to care enough to bother so that your children will know intimately the God whose truth can free and whose grace can heal.
Caring isn’t just for the parents of children
Caring isn’t just for the parents of children. As adults, if we want the hope, joy and truth of Christmas to become something more than a memory, then we need to make tough, profound decisions about our priorities, use of time, and how we give. If the way of Jesus is to be more than a memory, then God calls us to keep coming back to God’s story, to worship, to fellowship, to prayer, and to serving so that the Jesus story and truth gets deep inside us.
“Sing it, Pa.”
A few minutes before our youngest and his wife, Michael and Sarah, left for Chicago, two-year-old Max and I were sitting on the couch reading stories. He had just had lunch and was kind of quiet. We had played for several days, and we were both taking a breath.
Straight No Chaser’s Christmas CD was on the stereo, and the song “Silent Night, Holy Night” began to play. That carol is one of Max’s favorite songs. He has heard it a lot…at home.
Leaning back against my chest, he said, “Sing it, Pa.”
So I did. I sang it quietly into his ear.
We all need someone around us who loves God and loves us enough to sing God’s song to us. So we’ll get the words and the truth down early in our lives. So the song, truth and love can carry us along. So the miracle of Christmas, unlike my Irish dance in County Sligo, will be something more than a memory.
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Things You’ll Want to Know…
- We’ll have one combined worship service in the Sanctuary this Sunday, January 1st, at 10 a.m. Join us as we begin a New Year with a word from God shared by Pastor Stacee, the joy of Communion, seasonal songs, and a very special Covenant Renewal Service.
- The church office will be closed this Friday and Monday the 2nd.
- BEGINNINGS: Questions Introducing Us to Faith – a new sermon series starts Jan 8th. We’ll be looking at questions that can move us towards us towards new life and a deeper faith!
- New Around Here? FIRST@FIRST is on Sunday, Jan 8th, at 1:30 p.m. in the Thurston Parlor (Library) at First Methodist. This is an informal opportunity for persons new to First Methodist & The Open Door to get to know the pastors and the mission/vision of the congregation. Join us for this 57 ½ minute gathering!
- Financial Peace University is Here! A 9-week series based on Biblical principles for handling money that can help you get out of debt and live a better life. First Methodist is offering Dave Ramsey’s nationally known FPU. The average financial turnaround for families is $8,000 in the first three months! Beginning Sunday, Jan 15th, from 4-5:30 p.m. at First Methodist. Total cost is $102.30 – free childcare will be provided. (Let us know you will have children in childcare, please!) Send inquiries to email@example.com or Register Today at fumcb.org/fpu
- New Member Class (A Disciple’s Path) will be offered Jan 22nd & 29th from 5 – 7 p.m. Pick up your copy of Jim Harnish’s A Disciple’s Path: Deepening Your Relationship with Christ and the Church from the church office. (A $4 donation will be gladly accepted.) To register, complete the form here: fumcb.org/new-member-class or sign up on your Connect Card or Flap in worship or email Ms. Cath Foreman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Leadership Orientation is set for the evening of Monday, Jan 23rd. If you are a leader in the church, keep that evening clear from 5:30-8. A simple meal will be provided, there will be a time of worship and inspiration, and a special focus will be “Nurturing the Three Essential Virtues” with the Rev. Russ Abel of Fort Wayne St. Joseph UMC.
- The Trustees have a plan for repairing the limestone steps of our Washington Street entrance. Work will proceed weather-permitting. Also, drywalling and painting was recently completed in the southwest tower of the sanctuary building to repair significant water damage.
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We’re very glad you’re a part of our community, sharing God’s love, and transforming the world. See you this Sunday at 10 AM in the Sanctuary!
Grace and peace,