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

Contemporary Worship: 11:15 a.m.

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Just a Thought or Two: The Missing Gifts

THIS SUNDAY, DEC 11th, 2016

(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)


The Missing Gifts


What Christmas gift brought you the greatest delight? Your first response may be to avoid answering the question because answering makes it sound like you think Christmas is all about “getting stuff.” It’s okay. What Christmas brought you the greatest delight? What gift made your eyes dance?

For me, there were a couple; a silver and red Santa Fe train set when we lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and there was a green plastic General Electric portable turntable with a membership in the Capitol Record Club when we lived in Alaska. (Puzzled? Ask your grandparents!). There were also other gifts that brought special delight.

Is it possible the joy of Christmas isn’t simply about what package under the tree has your name on it? Is it possible the joy of Christmas, the meaning of Christmas, is more truly measured by the gifts missing under the tree? Is it possible that the best way to celebrate the season of God’s giving is to be a…giver?


The Missing Gifts

In some families money is tight and material gifts are difficult to give so, there isn’t much wrapped up under the tree. Treasure must be measured in other ways for these families. However, in many families, the floor beneath the Christmas tree is covered with packages of all shapes and sizes.

When we consider the birth of Jesus in a stable, it turns us to the way of giving. Not just giving cool and bright things to the people in our families, but giving to people beyond our families.

The scene described in Matthew and Luke is a picture of a family with very little. Mary and Joseph appear to have been clinging to the lower rungs of the middle class in first century Palestine. The child is born in a barn. The child born in Bethlehem will later talk about the kingdom of God, describing it in terms of the hungry being fed, the homeless being sheltered, the naked being clothed, and the stranger being welcomed. (Matthew 25)

So, how good and beautiful would it be if there were packages missing beneath your tree because you had taken the money and given it to causes that delight the Prince of Peace?


Our Christmas Gift to the World

Every Christmas the blessed people of First Methodist receive a Christmas Eve Offering Envelope for the world. For the last several years we have invited you give at least the same amount you would spend on a member of your family. So, if you spend $185 on each member, then give that same amount to the Christmas Eve Offering. Some people will figure out how much they are spending on gifts for the entire family and place that amount in the Christmas Eve Offering.

Our goal is $15,000 which is far beyond what we have raised in recent years.

Where will our Christmas Eve Offering be going?

  • 25% will be going to the amazing and outstanding Monroe County United Ministries or MCUM which helps so many children and families through their outreach services.
  • 25% will be going to fund Christian Camping Scholarships for our children and youth so we can send as many youth as possible to our United Methodist camps this summer.
  • 25% will be going to Mission Guatemala for their children’s outreach.
  • 25% will be going to dig freshwater wells in Africa ($2,520 per well).   Wells will be dug in the nation of Burkina Faso where 1 in 3 children die before age 10 because of the lack of freshwater and adequate nutrition. One well serves a village of between 500 and 1,000 persons.I am confident some individuals and families in our church with the capacity to give this much will decide to sponsor a well or two as their part of the Christmas Offering.


Any ideas for Christmas?

Around the first of December each year my Dad sends me a note and asks, “Any ideas for Christmas?” I hate to admit I often have no idea what to tell him. I pretty much have—in a material sense—everything I need or want.

When I take into account where our Christmas Eve Offering will be going this December, I am excited! I am confident that our “gifts” will delight the heart of God!

Perhaps your family will spend less money on one another this year as you set new priorities for Christmas giving. Perhaps you will look beneath your tree and realize there are fewer gifts than last year. There are fewer gifts because you did something amazing and good this Christmas for children here at home and around the world.

I’m praying you will join me and others as we open our hearts by doing something big, generous and beautiful! In 1st Corinthians 16:13-14 Paul says, “Stay awake, stand firm in your faith, be brave, be strong. Everything should be done in love.”

The gifts missing beneath the tree will tell a beautiful story!




Remember to tell your friends about the good we are doing in our community and invite them to join you in Sharing the Warmth (Saturday), the Mitten Tree, and other outreach opportunities. Also, 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.



Join us this weekend for the 3nd Sunday in Advent as we continue celebrating “GOD’S NEW STORY.”

christmas-pageant & chili-cook-off-bowl-157055_640

Remember, Sunday, December 18th, at 4 o’clock we will have our wonderful, amazing, traditional children’s Christmas Pageant. Following the Pageant, we will have our 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off. We invite you to bring a crock pot of your favorite chili recipe to share! There will be voting involved and competition will be stiff so, cook to impress! Please, bring your chili crock pot to The Great Hall.

Grace and peace,




First Methodist