"Through the power of Christ, we are learning to live in simplicity, thankfulness, contentment and
generosity in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana."

(IF YOU CLICK ON A PICTURE, IT WILL GET BIGGER... AND EASIER TO VIEW.)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A prayer for the New Year

"Take me into a new year, Gracious God. Help me to continue looking for meaning, seeking peace, praying for light, dancing for joy, working for justice, and singing your praise.

I go into the new year filled with expectations, a touch of worry, and a bundle of hope. I do not journey into the new year alone but with you as my guide, with a commitment to my disciplines, with a community of family, friends, and faith.

Take me into the new year, Creator of beauty and wonder. Bless me with the companionship of Jesus, and gift me with the guidance and power of the Spirit. Amen."

( Prayer by Larry James Peacock from Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Psalms, and Prayer)

Devotional for the Seventh Day of Christmas

Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine was written by Charles Wesley specifically for use by the early Methodist Societies during the Watch Night Service on New Year’s Eve.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Come, let us use the grace divine, and all with one accord,
in a perpetual covenant join ourselves to Christ the Lord;
Give up ourselves, thru Jesus’ power, His name to glorify;
and promise, in this sacred hour, for God to live and die.
 
The covenant we this moment make be ever kept in mind;
we will no more our God forsake, or cast these words behind.
We never will throw off the fear of God who hears our vow;
and if Thou art well pleased to hear, come down and meet us now.

Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, let all our hearts receive,
present with Thy celestial host the peaceful answer give;
to each covenant the blood apply which takes our sins away,
and register our names on high and keep us to that day!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Strong Year in Mission

2013 was an amazing year for the United Methodist engagement in God’s mission through the General Board of Global Ministries!  A few highlights:

  • We commissioned 53 new missionaries, including 31 young adults.
  • Received in excess of $6.5 million in designated contributions through the Advance in our first participation in the online Giving Tuesday in early December;
  • Responded with compassion to a typhoon in the Philippines, tornadoes in the United States, refugees in Syria, and the malaria and AIDS epidemics in Africa.
  • Strengthened ties with local churches and annual (regional) conferences in the U.S., including new Mission Celebration events and commissioning new missionaries in the annual conferences.
  • Welcomed and promoted a new ecumenical statement on mission and evangelism that emphasizes “mission from the margins,” a complement to our ongoing emphasis on ministry with the poor.

Thomas Kemper General Secretary

Read more at this link: http://www.umcmission.org/Learn-About-Us/News-and-Stories/2013/December/A-Strong-Year-in-Mission#sthash.ooO5ami3.dpuf

Devotional for the Sixth Day of Christmas

Work of Christmas Begins
When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with the flocks, then the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal those broken in spirit, to feed the hungry, to release the oppressed, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among all peoples, to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ, every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.
-- Howard Thurman, adapted
 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fifth Sunday sing-a-long

By Still Waters

Thanks to Clay Freeman, David Paul and Hazel Smith (piano) for leading us in this month's Fifth Sunday sing-a-long.  Hazel's friend, Anna Storkson, also shared her vocal talents in the singing of one of the carols. 

A special treat was the appearance of "By Still Waters," A gospel bluegrass group from Hamilton.  They offered several pieces that combined wonderful vocals and some down-home country rhythms to produce a fun Christmas experience!

Thanks also to Trudy Freeman for orchestrating the fellowship time and to all those lovely folks who graciously provided some really wonderful refreshments.  Thanks be to God for "this good life" in the Bitterroot Valley!

Prayers of the Church

JOYS

Prayers of thanksgiving for …

The wonderful Christmas Eve service – in a full church – praising God with worship, prayers and heavenly music.
People willing to teach classes which help others to grow in their faith.

Recently arrived babies who are celebrating their first Christmas with their loved ones.
Wonderful family reunions, including those with brand new beautiful babies to enjoy.

Delightful surprises.
Homecomings.

Visitors to church:  Sean K., Margie W. and Danielle.
Lynn M. is back in church with us.

Laughter.
Tonight’s “Fifth Sunday Sing-along.”

Those who make merry.
Special acts of kindness.

Skype which enables people to see and hear and link with family and friends over the holidays, and all the year through.
The church’s prayer shawl ministry.

The lovely prayer shawl for Cleo’s family member, which is so appreciated.
The neighbor who changed someone’s tire this morning before church.

Neighbors who look out for one another.
Today’s blessing of a prayer shawl for Myrna B., Cleo G.’s sister-in-law.

Travelling mercies.
People who share with the rest of us… their amazing gifts of music at church and community events.

Church family members who step in and help when called.
Gratitude to live in area communities who actively care for one another’s needs.

All the people who contributed to our church’s observance/celebration of Advent and Christmas this year -- which was so energized, uplifting and meaningful – all offered in worship of our amazing God.

CONCERNS
Prayers for recovery and healing for the thousands of casualties and millions of people affected by the recent typhoon in the Philippines.  (Thanks be to God that the United Methodist Committee on Relief, UMCOR, is in position and involved in disaster relief.)

Prayers for peace in the Middle East – and in all the “four corners” of the world.
Prayers for the people of the Central African Republic and the South Sudan. 

Prayers for our military Veterans.
Prayers for the family and friends of the military service members who were killed or injured in the line of duty this last week.

Prayers for travelling mercies and for those not with us today
Prayers for healing mercies for (1) Mary L., (2) Claire K., (3) Ms. Hattie Ann, (4) Bev L.’s brother, (5) John W.-B., (6) Nilda B.’s sister’s father-in-law, (7) Donna L.’s Uncle Bob, (8) Gail and Lynn M.’s daughter-in-law, (9) Judy I., (10) Sister-in-law Myrna, (11) Son-in-law Matt, (12) Susan, (13) Friend’s granddaughter Lillie, (14) Lynn M., (15) Rich G., (16) Doris T.’s sister-in-law Cloris, (17) Gail F, (18) Cousin Sojie, (19) Jeanne C., (20) Ginny M., (21) Ed H., (22) Sheila H., (23/24) John W.-B. and his wife Sonja and (25/26) Mike in Arizona and his partner Emily L.

Prayers for family and friends who are mourning the recent deaths of their loved ones:  Doris Kester, Sandy Kenyon and Kathy B’s brother.
Prayer shawls for Rich G. and Jeanne C.

Prayers for Tina.
Prayers for those who are struggling to deal with the recent deaths of family members and close friends.

Prayers for family and friends who are gravely concerned about their loved ones who are facing serious consequences for their recent actions.
Prayers for all who are hurting at this time of year.

Prayers for those who are worried, frustrated and upset by the uncertainty surrounding their health-care insurance coverage.


ANNOUNCEMENTS:  (1) Tonight’s “Fifth Sunday Sing-along” begins at 6:00 p.m.  (2) Next Sunday morning, Clay Freeman’s class will begin to study the book of Hebrews.

The last Sunday of 2013

Bringing in the light of Christ
Clay Freeman singing "O Holy Night"


 
   
The community of faith gathered this morning, the last Sunday of 2013, for study, worship & fellowship. 
 
This morning of course, was the Fifth Day of Christmas and the singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas served as the basis of Pastor Charles' sermon.
 
During the church school time, Clay Freeman's class concluded its study of Philippians.  Next week the class will begin a study of Hebrews.
 
Tonight (at 6 pm) the sanctuary will come alive with the sounds of the season with our Fifth Sunday sing-a-long.

Visit this link to hear Clay Freeman's solo, "O Holy Night."

DoD Casualty List for Dec. 22 - 28

The Department of Defense announced this week the death of a Marine and an airman who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

+ Sgt. Daniel M. Vasselian, 27, of Abington, Massachusetts, died Dec. 23, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

+ Capt. David I. Lyon, 28, of Sandpoint, Idaho, died Dec. 27, 2013, from wounds suffered when his vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

Collect for The Holy Innocents

The Flight into Egypt by Giotto di Bondone (1304-06)
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
 
- Book of Common Prayer

Devotional for the Fifth Day of Christmas

The Nave of Canterbury Cathedral
In 1170, on the Fifth Day of Christmas, four knights from the court of King Henry II burst into Canterbury Cathedral looking for Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Just inside the cloister door, they murdered Becket, whose defense of the rights of the church had angered his one-time friend, the king.

Within three years, Thomas was canonized, and the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury was set to become one of the most popular destinations for pilgrims from all over Europe.

In his play, "Murder in the Cathedral," T. S. Eliot reconstructs from historical sources the Archbishop’s final sermon, preached in the cathedral on Christmas Day. It is a remarkable meditation on the meaning of Christmas, martyrdom, and the true meaning of "peace on earth."

The Fifth Day of Christmas, the anniversary of Becket’s death, is an opportunity to reflect on the broader meaning of Christmas by reading the Archbishop’s sermon.

(adapted from Eye Witness to History.com)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Come and worship!!!

The message Sunday morning will be interwoven with singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Come, celebrate with us on the Fifth Day of Christmas!!!

Devotional for the Fourth Day of Christmas

 
This Scripture reading has always given me "blessed assurance", encouragement and hope. I delight in the imagery of Jesus, Emmanuel, "God with us" – as the one who delivered the light of God’s love to a world in darkness. And when it was time to leave us, he declared that he would not leave us "orphaned." He said we would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and light our way.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of it, as I was driving to work. Normally, I drive to work in the light of day. However, I was participating in some remote training with folks in a classroom setting in Bethesda, Maryland. Given our time difference, I had to begin the training day at 6:15 a.m. Consequently, I drove to work much earlier than I usually do.

I was driving in the darkest of darkness! I remember thinking that I didn’t like it at all. The car’s headlights lit up a path that was just ahead of me. I could not see anything outside their range of light. It was so dark. I struggled to see what was immediately ahead of me. I was really anxious about the possibility of "critters" stepping out in front of the car suddenly. I knew I would have no warning, because I could not see anything to my right or to my left.

I remember thinking, "I don’t like this at all!" I don’t want to be in the darkness! I want to be in the light! As soon as I thought this, I laughed to myself. Wow, that would be a great devotional! Well, a lot of prayer for traveling mercies was said on that trip that morning. Fortunately, I arrived without incident. I was very grateful, indeed!

Yes, I want to be a "child of the light!" It’s so true what that Scripture says: "If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you are going." I really do want to walk the way that Jesus taught us to walk. I want God’s love and light to shine through me. How about you?

Belinda Alkula

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Sing-a-long


December 29th is a fifth Sunday and that means we'll be welcoming the community at 6:00 pm for a Christmas sing-a-long!
Come and celebrate the season with a fun-filled evening of singing!!!

Devotional for the Third Day of Christmas

A Christmas Carol by G. K. Chesterton

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down

Thursday, December 26, 2013

And the "hits" keep coming!

WOW!  Our church blog has had over 15,000 hits/visits.  In its first three months of existence, it had 6,000 hits/visits.  Within the last month, it has had over 3,000 hits or visits!  Yea, God!!!


- 3 Jul:    Church Blog Began
- 7 Oct:    Milestone of 6,000 Hits
-17 Oct:   Milestone of 7,000 Hits
-24 Oct:   Milestone of 8,000 Hits
-10 Nov:  Milestone of 10,000 Hits
-14 Nov:  Milestone of 11,000 Hits
-23 Nov:  Milestone of 12,000 Hits
- 4 Dec:   Milestone of 13,000 Hits
-19 Dec:  Milestone of 14,000 Hits
-26 Dec:  Milestone of 15,000 Hits

Devotional for the Second Day of Christmas

December 26th is observed by the Church as the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith.

1. Good King Wenceslas look'd out, On the Feast of Stephen; When the snow lay round about, Deep, and crisp, and even: Brightly shone the moon that night, Though the frost was cruel, When a poor man came in sight, Gath'ring winter fuel.

2. "Hither page and stand by me, If thou know'st it, telling, Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?" "Sire, he lives a good league hence. Underneath the mountain; Right against the forest fence, By Saint Agnes' fountain."

3. "Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, Bring me pine-logs hither: Thou and I will see him dine, When we bear them thither." Page and monarch forth they went, Forth they went together; Through the rude winds wild lament, And the bitter weather.

4. "Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger; Fails my heart, I know now how, I can go no longer." "Mark my footsteps, good my page; Tread thou in them boldly; Thou shalt find the winter's rage Freeze thy blood less coldly."

5. In his master's steps he trod, Where the snow lay dinted; Heat was in the very sod Which the saint had printed. Therefore, Christian folk, be sure, Wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, Shall yourselves find blessing.


(Click on this sentence, and you will see Belinda's mother presenting a dramatic reading of this at this month's United Methodist Women's gathering.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Devotional for the First Day of Christmas, Dec. 25

Nativity Window - Hereford Cathedral, England
Nativity

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?

Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?

Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

John Donne (1572-1631)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A prayer for Christmas Eve

Star of Bethlehem quilt
Tonight O God, in the midst of darkness you came and shone a Holy Light.  The Light that You sent in Your Son, was so bright, that nothing not even His impending death could dampen the reality of Christmas!  Tonight, may His light continue to shine through us and to the world who sees the light of Jesus shining in our homes through our hearts.  In Christmas’ love we pray.  Amen!

We gathered on a chilly evening in the Bitterroot Valley for our Christmas Eve service. Like Christians from around the world, we were blessed to have so many with whom we could share the worship of the Nativity of the Lord. 

Click on this sentence to go to the church's YouTube channel -- where you can see and hear church services and special events.

Christmas Eve, 1784


The Christmas Conference is the name given to the conference at which the Methodist Episcopal Church in America was formally organized.  It was an historic founding conference of the newly independent Methodists within the United States held just after the American Revolution.  Eighty-three preachers were entitled to membership; sixty of them were able to arrive for the conference.
     
The conference began on December 24, 1784, and lasted until January 2 or 3, 1785, at the Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore, Maryland.   Because of meeting through the Christmas period, the conference has traditionally been called the Christmas Conference.  It was at this conference that John Wesley's instructions for the new church were received and approved.
 
Thomas Coke was received as general superintendent. Francis Asbury, designated as a general superintendent by Wesley, was elected to the office by the ministers present and consecrated. Ministers were ordained, and ministerial appointments to churches and circuits were made.   The initial policies for the new church were chosen.   The founding date of 1784 for The United Methodist Church comes from this meeting of the Christmas Conference.
 
Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Advent Devotional for Christmas Eve

A Christmas Acrostic of Friendship and Love

Christmas time brings joyous greetings, Lots of toys and choirs singing; Although the thrills of gifts, and light grand, Yule time speaks of God’s mighty hand.

And first, we see a heavenly star shining bright Near a hewn-rock stable, a peaceful sight. Do we each personally know the love born that night?

Truly, that love of God given us there, Reaches throughout history, for us to share Until all mankind can join in love, Doing the will of our Father above. Yes, through Christ’s atonement, we are aware.

Friendships renewed, gifts for loved ones, all; Relatives brought closer, near hearth, near hall. Everything seems to glow with warmth and cheer, Especially good wishes for a beautiful New Year. May these be ours, with true peace as their shawl. And finally, may each one us be awed Not by the tinsel, but the bright Love of God!

Christmas devotional thought: The truth of Christmas brought…Salvation taught…Message caught!

Clay Freeman

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Eve @ SUMC


Bring your friends, neighbors, family members (and yourself) for this special worship service.  Please be intentional about offering a ride to those who may be reluctant about driving at night.

The choir selections and the sermon will be available on our YouTube channel on Christmas Day.

How well do you know the Christmas story

How Well Do You Know the Christmas Story?
The Wired Word for the Week of December 22, 2013
In the News
We are using the arrival of Christmas itself as the news this week. As a way of talking about it, we suggest you take the following "Christmas IQ Quiz," which comes from David Langerfield. 

Christmas IQ Quiz

1. Joseph was originally from ... (Luke 2:3)
 A. Bethlehem
 B. Nazareth
 C. Hebron
 D. Jerusalem
 E. None of the above

2. What does the Bible say that the innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
 A. "There is no room in the inn."
 B. "I have a stable you can use."
 C. "Come back later and I should have some vacancies."
 D. Both A and B
 E. None of the above

3. A manger is a ...
 A. Stable for domestic animals
 B. Wooden hay storage bin
 C. Feeding trough
 D. Barn

4. Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus' birth?
 A. Cows, sheep, goats
 B. Cows, donkeys, goats
 C. Sheep and goats only
 D. Miscellaneous barnyard animals
 E. None of the above

5. Who saw the star in the east?
 A. Shepherds
 B. Mary and Joseph
 C. Three kings
 D. Both A and C
 E. None of the above

6. According to the Bible, how did Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?
 A. Camel
 B. Donkey
 C. Walked
 D. Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
 E. Horse-drawn chariot
 F. Who knows?

7. How many angels spoke to the shepherds? (Luke 2:10)
 A. One
 B. Three
 C. Multitude
 D. None of the above

8. What did the angels say/sing? (Luke 2:14)
 A. "Glory to God in the highest, etc."
 B. "Alleluia"
 C. "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given"
 D. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come"
 E. "Glory to the newborn King"

9. What is a heavenly host?
 A. The angel at the gate of heaven
 B. The angel who serves refreshments in heaven
 C. An angel choir
 D. An angel army
 E. None of the above

10. There was snow that first Christmas ...
 A. Only in Bethlehem
 B. All over Israel
 C. Nowhere in Israel
 D. Somewhere in Israel

11. What is frankincense?
 A. A precious metal
 B. A precious fabric
 C. A precious perfume
 D. None of the above

12. In Matthew, what does "wise men" or "magi" refer to?
 A. Men of the educated class
 B. Eastern kings
 C. Men who studied the stars
 D. Sages

13. What is myrrh?
 A. Middle Eastern money
 B. A drink
 C. An easily shaped metal
 D. A spice used for burying people
 E. None of the above

14. How many wise men came to see Jesus?
 A. 3
 B. 6
 C. 9
 D. 12
 E. We don't know.

15. Where did the wise men find Jesus? (Matthew 2:11)
 A. In a manger
 B. In a stable
 C. In Nazareth
 D. In Saudi Arabia
 E. In a house
 F. None of the above

16. When the wise men found Jesus, he was ... (Matthew 2:11)
 A. A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
 B. A young child
 C. A boy in the temple
 D. A grown man

17. The "star in the east" that the wise men followed ... (Matthew 2:9)
 A. Stayed in the same place their entire journey
 B. Disappeared and reappeared
 C. Moved ahead of them and stopped over the place where Jesus was
 D. Was just a mirage
 E. None of the above

18. The wise men stopped in Jerusalem ... (Matthew 2:2)
 A. To inform Herod about Jesus
 B. To find out where Jesus was
 C. To ask about the star
 D. To buy presents
 E. None of the above

19. Where do we find the Christmas story?
 A. Matthew
 B. Mark
 C. Luke
 D. John
 E. All of the above
 F. Only A and B
 G. Only A and C 
 H. Only A, B and C

20. When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, what happened?
 A. They got married
 B. Joseph wanted to break the engagement
 C. Mary left town for three months
 D. A and B
 E. B and C

21. Who told (made) Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem? (Luke 2:1-5)
 A. The angel chorus
 B. Mary's mother
 C. Herod
 D. The shepherds
 E. Caesar Augustus

The answers may be found online here, along with a few comments from Ray Pritchard at Keep Believing Ministries and is reproduced here with his permission.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Also, we suggest you include the additional two quiz questions offered by The Wired Word.

1. As related to the birth of Jesus, "nativity" means ...
 A. The ethnicity of Mary, Joseph and Jesus
 B. The prophecies about the Messiah
 C. The facts of Jesus' birth, including place, time and situation
 D. A and B
 E. B and C

2. As related to the birth of Jesus, "Incarnation" means ...
 A. Jesus was half human and half divine
 B. God the Son "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman
 C. Jesus took on a human body and nature and became both human and God
 D. The choices and acts of the pre-existent Son of God to become fully and truly a human being without ceasing to be fully and truly divine
 E. A and C
 F. B, C and D
More on this story can be found at these links:
Christmas IQ Quiz. Keep Believing Ministries
Answers to Christmas IQ Quiz. Keep Believing Ministries
The Meaning of Incarnation. Patheos
The Nativity of Jesus. About.com

(#1 - B; #2 - F)

Advent Devotional for December 23rd

Joseph in a Dream by Rembrandt van Rijn
"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." - Mahatma Gandhi

Each morning when I read from my devotional it brings me peace, love and direction for the day. In the same way are words and actions throughout the day that may make a difference in other’s lives. I have a choice of being grumpy, sad, wrapped up in self or by being open-minded, kind, and a friendly person.

I’m reminded to listen to God as I listen to others. We need his direction as we respond to others. We need to be a channel of Christ’s love. We are helped by the Spirit inside us to respond with love to other’s needs.

Carol Gragg

Sunday, December 22, 2013

DoD Casualty list for December 15 - 21

The Department of Defense announced this week the death of six soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  They died Dec. 17, in Now Bahar, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered as a result of a helicopter crash. The incident is pending investigation.
 
Killed were:
+Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Oklahoma. 
+Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Arizona.
+SGT Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C. 
 
They were assigned to the 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.
 
+SGT 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta, Ga., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.
+Staff SGT Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Indiana, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.
 
Spc. Terry K. D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, MS, assigned to 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.
 
The Department of Defense announced this week the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 
 
+Petty Officer 1st Class James L. Smith, 38, of Huffman, Texas, died Dec. 11, in Landstuhl, Germany, from a non-combat related incident.  Smith was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28, Shreveport, Louisiana.

Happy birthday, Jesus!



Our congregation held an early birthday party for Jesus this morning following the worship service.  Thanks to Belinda and her mother, Sheila, for putting this celebration together.

Prayers of the Church

JOYS

Prayers of thanksgiving for …

Last night’s “Blue Christmas Service,” which was a service for those grieving at this time of year.
Wonderful family reunions.

Delightful surprises.
Pastor Charles and Belinda’s niece Lisa H. is now engaged to be married in 2015.

Visitors to church:  Sheila (Belinda’s mother).
Birthday blessings to Jesus, Pastor Charles, Luke M., Chuck P., Meggie L., Judy, Lisa M., Sharon W.’s sister-in-law’s brother, Phyllis C.’s great grandson, Carol V.’s grandson and Mitch E.’s grandmother Nola and grandmother Sue.

Laughter.
Clay F. noted that our prayers for 6-year-old Caden in Seattle, who has been dealing with cancer, have been answered.

Tom and Bridgett have been together for five years now… and are now engaged to be married.
The church’s brass ensemble played so beautifully at the local Super 1 recently.

Those who make merry.
The church’s prayer shawl ministry.

Today’s blessing of a prayer shawl for Myrna B., Cleo G.’s sister-in-law.
Travelling mercies.

Callie’s grandparents Brenda and Steve – their upcoming mission trip to California.
The wonderful concert that was held in the church last Monday night.

Thanks for all the effort to make the church more handicap-accessible.
The United Methodist Women’s (UMW’s) support of three of our church members who were actively involved in the recent Chrysalis retreat… and those who commit themselves to nurturing others’ faith journeys.   http://helenaemmaus.org/3301.html

People who share with the rest of us… their amazing gifts of music at church and community events.
The members of the church’s altar guild who have crafted such lovely and inspiring decorations for this season, which enhance our worship experience – each and every week.

Church family members who step in and help when called.
Gratitude to live in area communities who actively care for one another’s needs.

CONCERNS
Prayers for recovery and healing for the thousands of casualties and millions of people affected by the recent typhoon in the Philippines.  (Thanks be to God that the United Methodist Committee on Relief, UMCOR, is in position and involved in disaster relief.)

Prayers for peace in the Middle East – and in all the “four corners” of the world.
Prayers for the people of the Central African Republic and the South Sudan. 

Prayers for our military Veterans.
Prayers for the family and friends of the military service members who were killed or injured in the line of duty this last week.

Prayers for travelling mercies and for those not with us today
Prayers for healing mercies for (1) Mary L., (2) Claire K., (3) Ms. Hattie Ann, (4) Bev L.’s brother, (5) John W.-B., (6) Nilda B.’s sister’s father-in-law, (7) Donna L.’s Uncle Bob, (8) Gail and Lynn M.’s daughter-in-law, (9) Judy I., (10) Sister-in-law Myrna, (11) Son-in-law Matt, (12) Susan, (13) Friend’s granddaughter Lillie, (14) Lynn M., (15) Rich G., (16) Doris T.’s sister-in-law Cloris and (17) Gail F.

Prayers for family and friends who are mourning the recent deaths of their loved ones.
Best friend Claire who is going into foster care.

Prayers for those who are struggling to deal with the recent deaths of family members and close friends, e.g., Bruce Luddington’s wife.
Prayers for family and friends who are gravely concerned about their loved ones who are facing serious consequences for their recent actions.

Prayers for all who are hurting at this time of year.
Prayers for those who are worried, frustrated and upset by the uncertainty surrounding their health-care insurance coverage.

Christmas Pageant in-a-bag today!

Dave Lockman leading the praise singing
Children's chime choir & Bob Edgar
The wise men/women point the way
The cast
Our first-ever "Christmas pageant in-a-bag" was shared this morning during the morning worship service and it was wonderful! 

A cast of seventeen volunteers answered Pastor Charles' "Casting call" and took their places around the communion table.  The pageant offered the congregation the opportunity to participate as well and by all accounts everyone left with a new understanding of the story of Christmas!!!


Visit our YouTube channel to see for yourself the story of Jesus' birth, Stevensville-style!