"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.)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Join us on an adventure in 2015!


Join us during 2015 for the adventure of a lifetime as we read through the Bible together as a community of faith!

Each month will have its own page with links on
Biblegateway.com where that day's chapters may be found.

Visit
this link and get in on the excitement of reading the Bible!


Growing in our faith is the responsibility and joy of every Christian.  Three chapters a day.  That's it.  Three chapters a day and you'll have read the Bible from cover to cover in one year!

How about it, are you up for an adventure?

2015 Resolutions

1) Stop worrying about my weight, and think more about waiting:
- for God 
- for silence 
- for hope

2) Close my mouth and open my ears more in order to listen:
- to the wind  
- to the giggles of children
- to the sighs of the aging  
- to the voices of the ignored

3) Stop staring at my devices and look:
- up at the clouds sailing across the sky and the stars sending me their messages;
- down at the worms crawling in the dirt, the kids playing in the mud, the dogs splashing in the puddles;
- around at the incredible diversity that makes up God’s family and get to know them better.

The Rev. Thom M. Shuman

New Year's Eve Prayer


Happy New Year!  May we let go of the mistakes of 2014 and live in the hope of a New Year! Here’s a prayer I found from the Rev. Billy Graham on the occasion of New Year’s Eve that I’d like to share with you:
 
Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.
In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.
 
And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need.

We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.

As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come.

Amen.

Rev. Billy Graham, 1963

Seventh Day of Memes



Devotional for the Seventh Day of Christmas

Japanese print (Chinese style) of Madonna & Child, early 18th c.
 December 31st – Seventh Day of Christmas

I Saw a Sweet and Silly Sight

I saw a sweet (and) silly sight,
A blissful bride, a blossom bright
    That mourning made and mirth among.
A maiden mother, meek and mild,
In cradle kept a knavë child
    That softly slept; she sat and sang.

"Lullay, lullow, lully, lullay, lully, lully, lully, lully, lully,
    Lullow, lully, lullay, baw, baw,
    My bairn, sleep softly now."


Words: English Traditional, Fifteenth Century.  Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914),   p. 59.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

UMW Resolutions for the New Year

Putting Faith, Hope and Love in Action

The New Year is a time to reflect back on the year that has passed and look ahead to the new one. It is a time when many of us make resolutions to lead a more meaningful life, or enrich the path we are on. Here are some suggestions from United Methodist Women for ways to live a more spiritual life in the coming year.

Help equip women and girls to become the leaders of tomorrow. Follow your heart, answer the call, give to the World Thank Offering.  Spontaneous additional gifts can be given out of gratitude for God's abundance and in celebration of the joys of life.
 

The World Thank Offering is an opportunity for individuals to respond to God's abundance and grace with spontaneous gifts of gratitude. The funds collected are used in the total program of mission carried on through United Methodist Women's national office in the United States and around the world.

Or you can support the work of United Methodist Women for the next 150 years and donate to Mission Giving.

Take Action: +Work for Justice through Service and Advocacy. +Pick one or more justice issues you care about, and try to create change: +Form a huddle to end trafficking or contact your elected officials urging them to end child and family detention. +Pick one (or more) of the 13 steps to environmental sustainability to implement or improve on.

Learn and grow: +Read a Spiritual Growth Study or join our Reading Program and expand your knowledge year-round. +Volunteer at one of our many National Mission Institutions. +Take an Ubuntu Journey.+And be sure to make the time for prayer.

Get the Prayer Calendar. This resource can help you plan your week and invites you to support mission through daily prayer. Current mission projects and people who serve in United Methodist Church mission are highlighted throughout the year.
 

You can also follow UMWomen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/UMWomen for the daily Prayer Calendar focus, or read the UMWOnline blog at www.umwonline.org/blogs/prayer-calendar.

Honor a United Methodist Women member on the Living Timeline. Subscribe to response magazine or visit www.unitedmethodistwomen.org every week to stay up to date; stay connected via social media and UMWOnline. 

Share your story: local, district and conference United Methodist Women members make mission happen every day. Inspire your sisters in faith, hope and love with a submission that might appear on the website, in United Methodist Women News or response magazine. 

Submit your story to tbarnes@unitedmethodistwomen.org and include high resolution photos if possible.

United Methodist Women wishes you a purposeful and happy New Year!
  

Posted or updated: 12/30/2014 11:00:00 PM

Sixth Day of Memes

This blog post is our 1,000th since the launch 
of www.steviumc.blogspot.com on July 3, 2013!


Devotional for the Sixth Day of Christmas


December 30th – Sixth Day of Christmas


Now Is Well and All Things Aright

1. Now is well and all things aright,
And Christ is come as a true knight;
For our Brother is King of might,
    The fiend to fleme and all his.
Thus the fiend is put to flight,
    And all his boast abated is.



2. Sithen it is, well (must) we do,
For there is none but one of two,
Heaven to get or heaven forego,
    Other mean none there is;
I counsel you, since it is so,
    That you well do to win you bliss.

3. Now is well and all is well,
    And right well, so have I bliss;
And sithen all things are so well,
    I rede we do no more amiss.


Words: English Traditional, Fifteenth Century Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), pp. 172-3.

It isn't over 'till it's over!


Monday, December 29, 2014

Too busy to pray? Find more time in the New Year!

December 22. 2014




As a New Year dawns, many make resolutions to improve their lives. If you have resolved to spend more time in prayer but are concerned about squeezing it in to your already crowded calendar, this advice from United Methodist pastors and church leaders will help you move toward a deeper prayer life in 2015 and beyond.

 

Make prayer a priority  

Those hoping to find time for prayer will likely fail. You have to make time. “I like to compare it to exercise,” said Jan Reed, leader of the Centering Prayer Group at University United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas. “We need exercise to keep our bodies healthy,” she continued. “We need prayer to keep our souls healthy.”

Reed recently asked her prayer group “what they would suggest for newcomers to prayer, and most of them said, ‘Just do it!,’” a slogan of a brand of apparel one might wear while exercising. The connection to our health may be stronger than we know.

 

Make an appointment with God

Set aside a specific time to pray. It may be first thing in the morning, in the evening, during your lunch break, your commute, or time spent waiting for the kids. Be creative. Then put the appointment in your calendar and keep it.

Find a sacred place

The Rev. Joseph Kim of Manlius United Methodist Church in New York encourages us to have a place to pray as well. “My closet,” as Kim calls his prayer space, “is the front of the altar in the sanctuary.” But not all of us have daily access to our church buildings. “Wherever this would be,” Kim continued, “whether it is home, work, or in the car, finding your closet and time are important to deepen your prayer life.”

 

Turn off the television

Remove distractions and pray. Reed reminds us, “We often spend at least 20 min a day doing insignificant things – checking emails, puttering around the house, watching TV, surfing the internet, etc.”  We could replace that time with 20 minutes of deep communion with God.

The Reverend Olinda Salazar-Veliz, Pastor of Hispanic Ministries at White Plains United Methodist Church and pastor of Luz del Pueblo in Cary, North Carolina, encourages us to pray through this struggle. She offers this example, “I want to grow more to follow you in better ways in this upcoming 2015. Please, forgive my distractions, putting as excuses my daily chores. Allow me to approach more actively in your teachings and in the practice of them.”

Pray with a group

Being part of a group may help motivate you to pray. Hixson United Methodist Church in Tennessee saw a group of moms come together to pray for their school-age children and the schools they attended. Years later, though most of their children have graduated, the moms still pray together every Friday morning. If you cannot find a group to join, start one by inviting some friends to pray with you.

 

Pray as a family

Another group to pray with is your family. Send the children off to school with a moment of prayer. Give God thanks in the evening for all the blessings of the day. Pray with your spouse as you read the morning paper over breakfast. Pause to pray as you watch the evening news. 

 

Keep your Bible and prayer journal handy

Many people miss exercise classes because they cannot find their yoga mat or car keys in time. We can also significantly cut into our prayer time while looking for what we need. Keep your Bible, journal, and other tools where you can quickly locate them.

 

Keep the conversation going all day

The Rev. Ginger Pudenz, Associate Pastor at Platte Woods United Methodist Church in Missouri, encourages people to pray throughout the day with Twitter prayers. “I occasionally use Twitter to send a reminder to pray,” she reports. “A few faithful followers have shared that it is a pleasant interruption to see that tweet and know that they are being called to pray with others in real time.” Short prayers throughout the day are a great way to increase your prayer life.

 

Pray your calendar

If you are concerned about having time, pray for it. Pray through what the day ahead will bring – your meetings, children’s events, doctor’s appointments, and the like. A few moments in prayer may be just the right medicine to still your spirit despite a hectic schedule.

 

Use resources

Getting a time of prayer started can be challenging. The Upper Room provide helpful resources like their wonderful daily devotions , an online Living Prayer Center, and print resources on prayer.

J.D. Walt who writes another daily devotional called The Daily Text for Asbury Theological Seminary’s Seedbed.com says his daily posts are a “way of sowing the seeds of Scripture into the people of God in ways that are sprouting up into all sorts of creative prayer and work in the Kingdom.” Experiment with some helps to find what works for you.

 

Experiment with different methods

There is no right way to pray, as there is no right way to have a conversation with your best friend. The Upper Room Living Prayer Center offers examples of several different methods. Experiment with fresh ways to connect with God.

 

Enjoy it

Kim warns against viewing prayer time as just another box to check on a spiritual to-do list. “When you approach prayer as your Christian duty, you would not enjoy its time,” he said. “You need to see prayer life as special time for dating with God.” He continued, “God who loves you dearly wants to spend time with you and to hear everything about your life.” Change your mindset from having to spend time with God, toward getting to.

Keep going

Like any resolution, there will be days when you will fall short. When that happens, forgive yourself and keep going. Remember the benefits of the deeper prayer life you seek. As Reed pondered the gro her prayer group she said, “I think [its popularity] reflects the need for us in our hectic and busy society, to slow down, let go of frustrations, anxieties, and any of the crises we might be facing in our lives, and reconnect to God.”

Setting aside more time for prayer will change the rest of our day, making it a Happy New Year indeed. 


*Joe Iovino works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. He may be reached at jiovino@umcom.org or 615.312.3733.

Another milestone reached

Sometime this evening we reached another milestone here on our blog, the 25,000th visitor since the blog's launch on July 3, 2013!

Fifth Day of Memes


Scripture lesson for January 4th

Isaiah 60:1-6
 
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
  

For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.  

Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
 

Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses' arms.
 

Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
 

A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Human Trafficking Awareness Sunday (Jan. 4)

“He redeems their lives from oppression and violence; their blood is precious in his eyes.” Psalm 72:14, CEB

They are slaves — child soldiers, teens forced into prostitution and middle-aged women working as indentured servants. More than 20.9 million men, women and children are held against their will, scared to leave and unaware of their rights. They are victims of greed, false hope and broken promises.

The crime is human trafficking. The people of The United Methodist Church are working to stop it. We care about issues happening beyond the doors of our local churches and outside our comfort zones.

The invisible victims may live in our neighborhoods, work at local businesses or attend area schools and colleges. We may buy products they make, benefit from services they provide and unknowingly invest in unscrupulous deals brokered by their captors.

Criminals lure vulnerable people into involuntary servitude, debt bondage, sex slavery and more. The enslaved endlessly fold and glue matchboxes, cultivate fields unprotected from pesticides and spend childhood used as sex toys. The perpetrators dehumanize, torture and steal the sacred worth of God’s children.

By proclaiming faith in the God of freedom, United Methodists condemn slavery as wrong. God calls us to proclaim release to the captives and set the oppressed free (Luke 4:16-19).

Your support of the General Board of Church and Society through the World Service Fund frees people with aching hearts, battered bodies and broken spirits. Because of people like you, the lost return home. Thank you!

From General Board of Discipleship: God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us with earthly delights. Let our life as a church community become like a watered garden. Make us radiant over the goodness of your gifts! May all who enter our midst flourish with new life. Help us to share with our neighbors generously from your bounty. We ask this through your Son Jesus Christ. Amen. (Jeremiah 31)

Human Trafficking Day is next Sunday. Learn how you can alleviate human suffering. Go to http://umc-gbcs.org/issues/human-trafficking.


Devotional for the Fifth Day of Christmas

The Peasants' Dance, 1568 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
December 29th – Fifth Day of Christmas

Make We Mery, Bothe More and Lasse


Make we mery, bothe more and lasse
For now ys the tyme of Crystymas



1. Let no man come into this hall,
Groom, page nor yet marshall,
But that some sport he bring withall,
    For now is the time of Christëmas.


2. If that he say he cannot sing,
Some other sport then let him bring,
That it may please at this feasting,
    For now is the time of Christëmas.
3. If he say he can naught do,
Then for my love ask him no mo,
But to the stocks then let him go,
    For now is the time of Christëmas.

 
Words: English Traditional, Before 1536. Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 102-3

This week at Stevi UMC

Church office closed - December 31 - January 2

Thursday, January 1 - New Year's Day

Sunday, January 4 - Epiphany of the Lord Sunday
9 am, Church school
10:15 am, Praise singing
10:30 am, Worship
11:30 am, Fellowship time

Regular schedule of classes and activities resume on January 5th.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Holy Innocents

"The Holy Innocents" (Matthew 2:13-18)

Why, O God, must we remember the words of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents today?  

Just days ago, we sought the Christ-child. The heavens exploded with joy and proclamation and we raised our candles as if they were the soft twinkling of stars in a night's sky.

We heard once again the story of shepherds running from their flocks, to the very place where Love was born and our hearts were filled with their excitement.

We are now looking East, toward the horizon for magi bearing gifts and we wonder what gifts might we also bring.

Why, O God, must we remember these Holy Innocents now when we have knelt at a manger to witness Love first-hand?

It is less painful and sorrowful for us to close our eyes to this.

Is it because there are still Innocents today?
In Nigeria or Pakistan ... or in our own streets?
Nameless and named?

Is it because there are still Innocents today?
Hungry and cold?
Nameless and named?  

Is it because there are still Holy Innocents today?
Battered and bruised in the very place they call home?
Nameless and named?  

Why, O God, must we remember the Holy Innocents?

"Because, my child, there are Innocents in this world today,
and mothers weeping and refusing to be comforted.  

There are still Herods who have both great power and great fear within them. 

You must not forget and you must not look away."

c) 2014 revised   anna murdock

Last Sunday of 2014

Pastor Charles leading the worship service
Mitch, Clay, Bob & Cy chat during fellowship time
Marcia, Hazel, Trudy, Bonita & Dr. Linda enjoying time together
Kalie announcers the Sunday School mascot winner
It was a festive time today!
This week will have two milestones on our blog: 
The 25,000th visitor to the blog and the 1,000th blog posting!  

The light dusting of snow on the ground overnight gave the last Sunday of 2014 a beautiful shimmer to our church as we gathered this morning.  It was wonderful to have such a good turn-out on what is traditionally a "low-attendance Sunday."

During the fellowship time, our refreshments were an assortment of treats folk had left from their holiday bounty.  This will be an annual event for a long time to come!

Kalie A. was on hand during fellowship, getting folk to vote for their favorite in the Sunday School mascot contest.  The winner was "Zippy the turtle."

The Christmas Eve service, along with today's service are available on our YouTube channel.

Fourth Day of Memes


Devotional for the Fourth Day of Christmas

December 28th – Fourth Day of Christmas

Ivy, Chief of Trees 
 
Ivy, chief of trees it is, 
Veni coronaberis.

1. The most worthy she is in town,                                     

He that saith other doth amiss;                                        
And worthy to bear the crown;                                        
Veni coronaberis.

2. Ivy is soft and meek of speech,                               

Against all bale she is bliss;                                             
Well is he that may her reach,                                         
Veni coronaberis.

3. Ivy is green with colour bright,                                       

Of all trees best she is;                                                      
And that I prove well now be right,                                     
Veni coronaberis.

4. Ivy beareth berries black;                                              

God grant us all His bliss,                                                   
For there shall we nothing lack:                                      
Veni coronaberis.


Words and Music: Traditional English - Source: William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868); from a manuscript in the 15th Century.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Worship and more tomorrow

Join us for worship tomorrow as we continue the celebration that is Christmas!  

Church school @ 9 am; praise music @ 10:15 am; worship @ 10:30 am; Festive Fellowship @ 11:30 am.

Don't forget to bring your 'extra' holiday treats to share for our fellowship time.  Bring those broken cookies, fruit cakes, misshapen cakes, etc.!

For those planning on beginning that annual New Year's diet this is a great way to rid your home of those unneeded temptations!

On this day in UM History


Third Day of Memes


Devotional for the Third Day of Christmas

Illustration from the Book of Kells (9th century)
from Gospel According to John.

December 27th – Third Day of Christmas


To Thee Now, 
Christ's Dear Darling
Pray for us to the Prince of peace,                              

Amice Christi, Johannes (John, friend of Christ)

1. To thee now, Christ's dear darling,                               
That wert maiden both old and ying,                                     
My heart is set a song to sing,                                       
Amice Christi, Johannes.

2. For thou wert so clean a maid,                                      
The secrets of heaven were to thee said                            
When on Christ's breast thou wert laid,                      
Amice Christi, Johannes.

3. When Christ before Pilate was brought,                   
Thou, clean of heart, forsook Him nought,                         
To die with Him was all thy thought,                           
Amice Christi, Johannes.

4. Christ's mother thou tookest home with thee                
Maiden, a maiden's friend to be,                                    
Thou be our help, we pray to thee,                                  
Amice Christi, Johannes.


Words: English Traditional, Before 1529 . Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 126.
 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Second Day of Memes


Tenth Anniversary of the Boxing Day Tsunami

Memorial service in Khao Lak, Thailand
Today is the 10th anniversary of the tsunami that struck southeast Asia on Boxing Day 2004.  Belinda and Pastor Charles were living in Cornwall at the time and knew the author of the hymn shown below from Pastor Charles' work with the Methodist Church circuit in Bodmin-Padstow-Wadebridge.  

Read more about the tenth anniversary from: the BBC; The Telegraph; www.tsunami2004.net
 +++++++++++++++++++++++++
Rev. Gareth Hill
"BBC Radio Solent Remembering the Asian tsunami 10 years ago today. Here is the hymn I wrote just days later to commemorate the event. You sing it to the tune Aurelia (The Church's One Foundation)."

When innocence is fractured
by nature’s shifting force,
and paradise is ruptured
as life is swept off course,
we come to pray our questions,
we come to share our grief;
in this, our act of worship,
to say that we believe.


As headlines overwhelm us
and make us close our minds;
as news from distant islands
brings death before our eyes
we seek a hope to cling to,
a refuge to embrace;
lest in the grip of knowing
we lose our hold on grace.


How dare we speak of heaven
made human for our sakes,
or preach a loving Father
when seas and mountains quake?
We dare because our story
speaks of a love that came
to bear the cost of dying
and still would do the same.


In Christ our souls take refuge,
though not to hide from truth:
we face each anguished question
with faith, if not with proof.
We hear his wistful question:
“And will you leave me too?”
Though all the world should crumble,
We hope, O Christ, in you.


Recommended tune: Aurelia

Copyright © Gareth Hill Publishing/Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square, Uckfield, TN22 1QG www.songsolutions.org

Devotional for the Second Day of Christmas

     This mosaic is from the shrine of
Pope St Pius IX in the Basilica of
San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura in Rome.
December 26th – Second Day of Christmas
On December 26th the Church remembers St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Eia, Martyr Stephane
Pray for us, we pray to thee. 
Eia, Martyr Stephane

To this martyr praise be given,
Qui triumphavit hodie,

And did gain the bliss of heaven,
Dono coelestis gratiae.

Stoned he was with stones great,
Fervore gentis impiae.

Then saw he Christ for thine enemies,
O martyr invictissime!

Then pray for us that high Justice
Ut nos purget a crimine. Amen.


Words: English, 15th Century – Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 122.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

First Day of Memes

Christians need to remember to laugh, especially during the dark days of winter!  During the Twelve Days of Christmas we'll enjoy some humor from the folk at United Methodist Memes (on Facebook).

Festive Fellowship on Sunday

Our hospitality coordinator, Lisa N., invites everyone to share in their Christmas treats as part of our fellowship time.  Bring in those broken cookies, extra boxes of chocolates, or other delectable treats and make our fellowship time a festive one. 

For those intending to start the ever-popular New Year's diet, this is an ideal time to get rid of those unneeded temptations!

Devotional for Christmas Day - The First Day of Christmas

Christmas morning on College Street
December 25th – Christmas Day

During the Twelve Days of Christmas, December 25th – January 5th and the Day of Epiphany, January 6th, we will hear from ancient English hymns and carols that speak of the birth of the Messiah and of the joy that is the Christmas season.

Good Day, Good Day  

Good day, good day, My Lord Sir Christëmas, good day!

1. Good day, Sir Christëmas our King, For every man, both old and ying, Is glad of your coming. Good day.

2. Godës Son so much of might From heaven to earth down is light And born is of a maid so bright. Good day.

3. Heaven and earth and also hell And all that ever in them dwell, Of your coming they be full snell. Good day.

4. All manner of mirthës we make, And solace to our heartës take, My seemly lordë for your sake. Good day.


Words: English Traditional, Fifteenth Century - Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 219. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A blessed Christmas Eve

Emma, Donna, and Kalyn share "Here With Us"
On a warm (for December) evening we gathered for worship and to join with Christians around the world in celebrating the birth of the Messiah.

We were blessed with wonderful music tonight which began with a lovely rendition of "Here With Us," which was shared by Donna L., Kalyn L., and Emma L.  The choir shared beautiful arrangements of "The Friendly Beasts" and "Away in a Manger" while the chimes offered "Silent Night."  Hazel S. and Julie L. provided wonderful accompaniment on the organ and piano respectively.

The worship service incorporated a variety of readings, each with a theme that drew us closer and closer to the moment of celebration. Tonight's readers were: Dean D., Cale F., Lynda F., Ben L., Lisa M., and Marcia P. 

The message and the musical offering will be available on YouTube tomorrow.

Christmas cheer

Lisa and joey are ready to go!
On Sunday the Outreach Committee prepared bags of holiday treats for the employees of local business that are open on Christmas Eve/Day.  Tonight, Lisa and joey delivered treats to workers at Ole's, Lucky Lil's, Cenex, and The Living Center.  Tomorrow bags will be delivered to the hardware store on Main Street.

Thanks to joey and Lisa (Kathy C., and Belinda helped put the bags together) for helping to make those hard-working folk's night just a little bit brighter.

Christmas greetings from the World Methodist Council

The World Methodist Council, headquartered in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, sends greetings to the spiritual descendants of the Wesley's.  

Visit this link to hear this greeting.

Christmas greetings from UMCOR


From the Rev. Dr. J. Denise Honeycutt, leader of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)

At our UMCOR Christmas luncheon, staff prepared favorite dishes from their various home countries to be shared. After the savory meal, the room filled with laughter as we exchanged gifts and then swapped them out. The simple $10 gifts were to be made or bought. Umbrellas, boxes of candy, a scarf were among the presents we gave each other.

During this season of Christmas, as we gather with family and friends and as we worship together, we are reminded of God’s unexpected gift of Extravagant Love in the person of Jesus Christ. We are reminded that God continues to come near and to work for good in our broken world, and that God invites us to be a part of that work.

Thank you for being a part of God’s healing presence in the world through UMCOR. Many of you have offered the gift of hope as you have journeyed with UMCOR through your giving this past year. Thank you for your solidarity, which enables us to be present in places like Haiti long after disaster strikes.

As we head into 2015, not only will we mark five years of recovery work alongside the Haitian people; we also will begin to mark UMCOR’s 75th anniversary of service. Seventy-five years of offering hope and healing—thank you!

May you joyfully receive the gift of God’s ever abiding presence this Christmas.



PRAYER: A CHRISTMAS PRAYER



The Song of Mary

Reference: Luke 1:46-55

God of hope and promise,
God of love and joy,
God of Sarah’s laughter and Mary’s song,
the world waits with great anticipation and even greater hope for the birth of Jesus.

Like Mary, we desire to praise You with our whole hearts, yet some days this season of watching and waiting is overwhelming. For the days when it feels like there is simply not enough time to prepare for the One who is to come, remind us of Your grace. And, when we grow impatient from our need to rush the season along, grant us Your mercy. Forgive us, O God, we pray.

Grant us a new song when we wait with little patience and pray without fervor. Grant us a new song in the days of heavy nights with shallow praise. We give you our hearts to be fueled with humility. We give you our lives to be used for Your glory. We offer our bodies as vessels for Your service.

We lay aside all animated images of Sweet Baby Jesus and embrace a real and holy, living divinity made flesh, in whom is manifested the birth of unconditional love, unwavering hope, and justice for all. May our journey to Bethlehem lead us closer to You and move us beyond our comfort zones into places of the Spirit’s nudging, which remind us, indeed, we are not alone.

In all things grant us Your peace, we pray. Amen.

Regina Henderson, Associate General Secretary, Justice and Relationships