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Just a Thought or Two: Whose Birthday is it, Anyway?

WHOSE BIRTHDAY IS IT, ANYWAY?

One of the challenges, when hosting a birthday party for a five year old, is the temptation of younger siblings to think that the party is about them. Sometimes siblings, whether younger or older, are helpful in handing the wrapped gifts to the birthday boy or girl for opening. Now and then, though, the sibling starts unwrapping the gift themselves –thinking the gift is for them! Therefore, a parent steps in and offers a small reminder, “Remember whose birthday this is, sweetheart.”

 

REMEMBER WHOSE BIRTHDAY THIS IS, SWEETHEART

It is easy to forget whose birthday we are celebrating at Christmas. Especially when repeated ads tell us that this is the season to park a new luxury car in our front yard, or that the way to show love is by giving diamonds. Each time I see these ads on TV, there is this inner voice that speaks up and says, “No, this isn’t what the season is about at all!” I find myself thinking about the moment when Jesus, referring to his own poverty, said (Matthew 8:20), “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Human One has no place to lay his head.”

Not to be a grump or anything, but the season is about something much better, something much more beautiful, than a four-wheeled depreciating asset or a piece of jewelry. The truth is that sparkly things are pretty, and driving a fine car on a twisting blacktop road can be a delight, but this is about the celebration of a God who loves enough to share His Child with the world.  Love always trumps diamonds. Love always trumps fine driving machines.

 

TO CELEBRATE GOD’S GIVING BEST, WE GIVE

One of the beautiful things about Christmas is our ADVENT/CHRISTMAS OFFERING. When the sweater we have given is out of style, the smartphone we received is suddenly technologically irrelevant, and the car has a scratch or two, the waves of love we put in motion by our giving to the ADVENT/CHRISTMAS OFFERING will still be in motion to bless others. Every $1, $10, $25, $100, or $1,000 we give is like a stone of grace thrown into the pond of this world’s need.

Last year we received the largest ADVENT/CHRISTMAS OFFERING in years, and this past Easter you gave more than $35,000 towards the Korean UMC parsonage project. So where is our money going this Advent/Christmas?

This year’s offering will be divided into thirds: drilling freshwater wells in Africa; supporting the extraordinary First Methodist Wednesday Food Pantry (the need is great!); and,supporting our Guatemala Mission Team as it heads to Central America in 2018. (Mission Guatemala operates schools, medical clinics, etc. and is making an extraordinary difference).

 

ADD THE CARPENTER’S NAME TO YOUR SHOPPING LIST

When you are figuring out how much you will spend on each family member, give at least the same amount to Jesus and the work of His church that you would give to a family member. If you are going to spend $50 on each family member, then give at least that amount to the ADVENT/CHRISTMAS OFFERING.  If you are going to spend $300 on each family member, then give at least that same amount to the ADVENT/CHRISTMAS OFFERING.   If you are going to spend $1,000 on each member of your immediate family (or yourself!), then give at least… (well, by now you should have gotten the point!)

Add the Carpenter’s name to your shopping list!

One of my best friends in the whole world took his family to Disney World for a week of vacation over New Year’s one time, and he realized that he had spent more on one week of vacation than he had given to the work of Jesus (the church) all year. He noticed this on his own, without any prompting from his pastor and it changed forever how he gave. It changed how he gave not only in December but also, throughout the year.

Paul, in 2nd Corinthians 10:8, says this about giving: God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.

Experience the joy of giving this Christmas, as you remember whose birthday it is.

 

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Join us in worship as we continue our sermon series, BROKEN DARKNESS. This is a wonderful time of year to invite your friends to worship with you. (Notice the worship schedule for the 24th).  Also, please read the reports about the ongoing conversation about the use of the south lot, and some exciting developments about refurbishing of the sanctuary.

Our pastor-led Advent Bible Study, Faithful, meets on Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. in #218-219. This session will be a “double-up” session that will go from 5:30 to 7:13 ½. Read chapters 3 and 4 of the Adam Hamilton book, if you can. We will have something to snack on when we gather.

Remember to invite your friends to our December 17th CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PAGEANT in the Sanctuary at 4 p.m., with the CHILI COOK-OFF immediately to follow in the Great Hall!

See you Sunday!
Grace,

Pastor Mark

 

 

 

 

First Methodist