Join us for Christmas at First Methodist
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services: 5, 8 & 10 PM
Christmas Morning Service: 10 AM
Is the Pageant Open to Anyone?
Larry approached me following The Open Door worship service, he was curious about the afternoon Christmas Pageant and the Chili Cook-Off we’d been talking about during the announcements.
“Is the Pageant open to anyone?” Larry asked as we walked down the sidewalk on a cold Sunday afternoon. “Can anyone go?”
It’s a Bigger Question
Larry’s question stopped me. I thought about all the people in the world who feel like God’s pageant of love is only for a select, perfect, faith-full few. There may have been times in your life when you were convinced that some failure, fear or sin disqualified you from God’s pageant.
A friend of mine had an abortion and for years felt as if God’s Christmas pageant wasn’t for someone like her. Another person lived her sexuality out in ways which marked her forever in her mind as “damaged goods.” She thought the pageant was not for her. Some people have more doubt than faith. They don’t think the church is the place for someone with robust skepticism. “I don’t believe all that stuff you say about God,” they tell me quietly. It’s not unusual for people to say,”That’s not for someone like me.”
Yesterday I had a cup of coffee with a friend. As we prepared to leave the coffee shop, I hugged him and told him I loved him. I told him I was so thankful for him. He laughed and said, “I’m the world’s biggest sinner.” As if being a broken clay pot (paraphrasing the Apostle Paul) would disqualify him for friendship…or love.
“Is the pageant for anyone?”
The Perfection of Imperfection
“Yes,” I said, “the Pageant is for anyone…and everyone. Come!”
So, Larry came to the Christmas Pageant. Larry told me that coming to church helped to keep him from drinking. He said people at The Open Door had been really friendly to him. He explained that some of his friends blame their problems on other people, but that wasn’t his situation. “I can’t blame no one else,” he said. “I made mistakes. I am paying the price. But things are getting better.”
One of the things that moves me most deeply during the story of God’s perfect love is that it is told by children through whom the joy shines. Not only that, but the Pageant is never perfect. Singers sing the occasional wrong note. LaPhonda the Camel looks a little lost. A young shepherd is insistent it is not time to say his line despite the director’s best efforts to get him to speak. There is a bit of a dust-up in the choir or among the shepherds and someone starts pushing someone else. So, an adult has to step in to make sure “all is calm, all is bright.”
This Pageant is not about perfection. It is about God’s perfect love that reaches out to imperfect people who live in an imperfect world.
Good News to All
In the story of the birth of Jesus, in Luke 2:1-20, the angels announce to the shepherds that they are bringing good news. It is “wonderful, joyous news for all people.”
“All people.” There is good news for all people. There is a God for all people. There is a Savior for all people.
That means the good news is for you. That means the good news is for me. And that means the good news is for everyone who wonders, “Is the pageant open to anyone?”
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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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Good Things to Know…
- You will find the Chapel Entrance on Washington Street open on the 24th and 25th, as well as the Atrium Entrance on East 4th.
- If you are new to First Methodist or The Open Door, we invite you to our 1-hour 1st @ First event. This gathering is a chance for new people to visit with a pastor, discuss programs, ministries, service opportunities, and Methodist faith. It’s fun & informal. Join us on Sunday, January 8 @ 1:30pm in the Thurston Parlor Library at First Methodist (219 E 4th Street).
- Interested in becoming a member at First Methodist? Join our New Member Class – January 22nd & 29th – 5 to 7pm. Childcare will be provided. The class study guide, A Disciple’s Path: Deeping Your Relationship with Christ and the Church by Jim Harnish is also available for a small fee. To register for this class, contact Cath Foreman at: email@example.com
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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.
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The past few weeks, our children’s ministry and preschool were collecting items on the Hat & Mitten Tree! Our gratitude to all who donated. This year we collected 236 items for kids which will go to MCUM and 108 items for adults which will go to Shalom!
Thanks to everyone who made the Children’s Christmas Pageant, and the Chili Cook-Off, such a grand success! Also, thanks to our building staff, ushering and greeting teams, musicians, and our amazing Wednesday Food Pantry and Interfaith Winter Shelter volunteers for their special work this week.
Grace and peace,