by: Ray Gilman
Beloved in Christ,
Can you believe it? Christmas is only days away! I am so very much looking forward to this festive time. Joy to the world the Lord is come! The Lord is come indeed! I don’t know about you, but I imagine you need the Christ child in your life now more than ever before. In the first coming of Christ, we are offered joy beyond understanding. In Him, we can understand love without end and a deep desire to offer kindness and compassion to all humanity. Jesus offers all of us a level of joy that defies description. The limits of that joy are unimaginable! Praise His wonderful name!
Yet many of us are suffering from loss and isolation. Many of us feel unable to claim God’s joy and leave it unclaimed like a Christmas gift without a name tag. I want to encourage you to claim that precious gift. It is yours. God offers it to you. Write your name on the Gift of Christmas Joy and gleefully tear off the wrappings! God loves you so much that “he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16, NRSV).
Let your troubles fall away. Take your focus from what troubles you and give it to God. Think for a moment and realize that your troubles are the result of focusing on what you want. I ask you to see clearly that God has met your needs. The Lord will continue to care for you if you will only let Him. Celebrate that thought!
Here are five specific things that you can do as we prepare to celebrate Christmas:
1. Invite your friends to church – even to view online! It’s always amazed me that although I know many of my friends are LOOKING for a church to attend, I still feel nervous when inviting them. Maybe it’s the fact that we all feel a bit nervous when talking about things that are important to us. The truth is, when you invite a friend to join you for church they very often will come, and even if they cannot, they’ll appreciate the fact that you thought of them.
2. Attend ANY of our services, online or in-person, and Worship with us! We offer a variety of worship filled events this season, each with a slightly different focus. A pre-recorded Blue Christmas has been posted online (https://youtu.be/2oP4qq9GWeM) and is for those who suffer the loss of a loved one, a Contemporary Christmas (in-person only) on December 22nd @ 7 pm, and a Service of Lessons & Carols (in-person and live-streamed) on December 24th @ 7 pm. Seating is limited. Make your reservations on Facebook or with the church office.
3. Help out in any way that you can. If you see ANYTHING that needs to be done - a piece of paper that needs to be picked up, a person who needs a question answered, a restroom that needs to be cleaned – I encourage you to “just do it.” Another of the great things about LFUMC is the way that we all pull together to meet whatever is needed.
4. Personally celebrate the good news of Christmas starting today. Lift high the name of Him who has called you out of the darkness! The Gospel of Luke reminds us, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 13, 14, NLT). Be in that Great Company praising God aloud for what you have received!
5. Give Generously. In all things, I remind you of the needs faced by our church in these trying times. Our financial burden is great and our resources are limited. I encourage you to make an additional offering to the church – above and beyond your weekly contribution. Christmas is a time for exceptional remembrance - for moving beyond the usual tithe and offering and increasing your love offering to the church of our Lord and Savior. The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.
Maybe together we can begin to look to the New Year as a fresh start, a reawakening of our lives and the life of our church. Let us come together and give witness to the Lord who has given us everything.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Ray Gilman