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So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  - Luke 2:16-18

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                         December 2016

Grace and peace. As the song says “its the most wonderful time of the year”. December is a busy month in the life of the church. I truly look forward to the 4 services on Christmas Eve! And this year Christmas Day will be a Sunday! I think it is wonderful that we will be together on Christmas Day. We are inviting children- and adults if they want to-  to come to church in their pajamas. I just might be in them too! 

Christmas can also be a hectic time of trying to have everything perfect. I like the saying- Let your mess be your message. Which means that, as believers in Jesus, we admit that our lives are messy and we need a Savior.  I think it is important for us to remember that Jesus was born in the mess of a stable- a manger- because there was no room for him in the inn. Jesus is born in the midst of a family that is just trying to make it in the world.   Philip Yancey says….“Yet as I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.  We are all underdogs in some way in this world. Some have it easier than others materially but we all have struggles and difficulties. Christmas is a time to be honest with how much we need to have the love of Jesus come to us. 

It still amazes me how a baby can change everything. I remember 18 years ago when Shaw was born on December 14. He was born on a Monday and was baby Jesus in the Christmas Pageant his first Sunday in Church. Nancy and I were scared parents as we watched a 12 year old girl hold our little baby. Christmas is a time to renew our faith in the incarnation. That God wanted to be with us- and live amongst us and show us the way, the truth and the life. Mary and Joseph are wonderful examples of how to trust that God will provide. The nativity scene is glorious in its simplicity and beauty. Our Savior is born, vulnerable and in need, to a powerless family trying to survive with King Herod chasing them. To say the least- it is not the ideal location to have a baby but Mary and Joseph do not complain. The scene reminds us that- with God all things are possible. May your Advent and Christmas season be filled with a peace that comes with trusting in God’s presence in your not perfect life. 

We will be welcoming our District Superintendent Rev. Rene Perez for our Annual Church Conference on Monday December 5th at 7pm. I invite you to come and celebrate the life and ministry of First UMC. The more people in attendance the better as we will enjoy a word from Rev. Perez and some church reports. We are blessed that our church is doing well and more and more people are calling it home. 

We will be having an Advent Book Study- All I Want For Christmas: Opening the Gifts of God's Grace by James Moore- for 4 Thursdays- December 1, 7, 14, 21 from 6:30pm-8pm. All are welcome!

I remind you that the Christmas season is a wonderful time to reach out to neighbors and friends and invite them to come to church with you. Our stewardship theme “I Love My Church” helps us realize that all we need to do is share that we love our church family. In this blessed season the Holy Spirit opens people’s hearts to believe in Jesus and the gift of divine love.

Nancy and I thank each of you for being so loving. All the cards and gifts are special to us because they come from our brothers and sisters of the faith.  On the first Sunday in Advent Susan Foster gave us a special ornament for our Christmas tree. It had the names of all of our children. All five! And Stephanny’s name was spelled correctly! It was a little gift that had so much meaning as it will be our first Christmas with Stephanny as a member of our family. She thanks everyone at church who has made her feel at home, loved and special! It is a new experience for her.  

This Christmas, remember that God makes room for you in His heart. For God so loved you that He gave you His Son Jesus. I pray you know how special you are to God this Christmas. Our families may be imperfect- and we don’t always get along- and there are stresses and difficulties- but Jesus comes to us in the midst of the mess. This Christmas find the bless in the mess!

In Christian Love,

Pastor John

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” 

― Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home

“He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness. (p. 119)”

― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness.” 

― Bob Hope

Sunday Worship Schedule  

Join us for a traditional worship service @ 9:00am with age appropiate Sunday School classes for kids ages pre-k through high school.
If you enjoy a worship service with a more contemporary feel, please consider our 10:30am service.  We offer a one-room Sunday School format for children ages pre-k through second grade. 
Come early and join us for a hymn sing at 8:45 am.  
Refreshments and fellowship time at 10 am.