Dear CUMC family,
As we prepare for this weekend of worship, I pray that your own journey toward this Christmas has been one where the anticipation has been building – the anticipation of experiencing God’s love and grace in new and powerful ways. This Advent we’ve been walking with Mary, the mother of Jesus, imagining what she might have been thinking throughout her lifetime as she remembered the times surrounding Jesus’ birth. This weekend we conclude that series of messages, first in the morning in which we ask the question, “Why Mary?” What does God’s choice of Mary tell us about God, and what gift of Christmas does it offer us?
We finish Sunday evening with the birth itself – this incredible moment in history when God came to us in human form – Jesus, the Son of God. We’ll imagine what it must have been like for Mary. Was it a “silent night…all is calm, all is bright” or was it something else? Many people find it hard to find that sense of peace themselves this time of year. How does Mary’s story help us make sense of the tension between the joy and the heartache of Christmas?
On a separate, but somewhat related note, you’ll notice a few changes in the back of the sanctuary this weekend. This past weekend we were visited but two young mom’s with 3 young children. They sat in the back, like many visitors do, but didn’t stay the full service. The kids were restless and the mother’s were feeling – well, you know if you’ve been there – they weren’t quite sure what to do, no doubt feeling like they were making too much noise. You know from hearing me talk other times that we must always be thinking about what it’s like to visit CUMC for the first time. In this case, we weren’t ready. We especially weren’t ready to help the moms enjoy worship while having their little ones next to them.
The Christmas season in particular brings many visitors. Our new series of messages may bring a few more – and we want to be ready next time! So in the back of the sanctuary we’re setting up a kids table that will have crayons and other activities for kids to enjoy during worship. We’ll put a rocking chair back there as well in case mom (or dad) has a really little one that he or she wants to soothe. Many congregations find creative ways of creating welcoming space in worship for children, and this is one way of doing so. Let us continue to be mindful of God’s call to be ready to welcome the stranger into our midst – for in fact, we are welcoming Christ himself!
Here’s what else is going on at CUMC:
1. Christmas Eve Schedule: One last reminder that we will have our regular Sunday morning service at 10:30 a.m. and then have our special Candlelight Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. This is another great opportunity to invite a friend or neighbor!
2. January Sermon Series: On January 7th, we’ll start a new series called “got questions?” This series is designed especially to connect with non-religious and nominally religious people who may have questions about God, faith and it’s relevancy to life today. Frankly, these are also the kinds of questions thinking people of faith have as well. There will be postcards available at the church for you to use to invite friends and neighbors. You can also share this link to a video highlighting some of the questions we’ll consider: https://vimeo.com/247358696. (A big “THANK YOU” to Natasha for lending her voice to the project!)
3. Testimony: Stories have power like nothing else. It’s especially meaningful when we hear from others how God is working in their lives. If you have a story of how you’ve seen God at work, and would like to share that story, please let me know and we will incorporate it into our time of prayer during worship. It might be something simple, like a small whisper where you knew God was present, or it might be something like a healing experience, or something else. I look forward to hearing from you!
4. Find us and like us on Facebook! Continue to spread the good news of the exciting things at CUMC through social media. You can find the page at fb.me/centenaryfaith
5. Connect to the website: Our website is www.centenaryfaith.org, and other way to keep connected to what’s happening. In addition, on most weekends, the audio of the weekly message and Grow-Pray-Study guide are available for download. Currently we have people listening in from all over the country, including our own neighborhood.
Looking forward to seeing you in worship this weekend.
Grace and peace