Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas! or "Whose Birthday is it, Anyway?"

Many families find the rush to the holidays stress making and, busy and ultimately... empty.  We love our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews... but they can end up with so many toys and gifts they don't really remember or appreciate what they have received.  If Christmas is about Jesus' birthday, then why do WE get so many presents?

Some families have been looking for different, meaningful ways to celebrate Christ's birth.

#1 Four Gifts

Families report that limiting gifts to 4 per child gives them more time, more money, and more meaning and enjoyment in the gifts they do receive.

#2 Advent Calendars

Many families are reviving the Advent Calendar tradition - a way to help pass the time of waiting until Christ is born.  This year, beginning Nov 27 (the first Sunday in Advent), there will be kits for families to make their own Advent calendars that look like this:  Each tree is made up of strips of paper with Bible verses on them.  You could also put a task on the paper strips as well:  be a friend, help Daddy with a chore, send a card to a shut in, etc.

#3 A different kind of Advent Calendar

Rather than get something, each day of Advent, the child/family places a food item in the box, which is then donated to the local food pantry, or pet items which are donated to the local shelter.

#4 Alternative Christmas Gifts

Gifts which support others, or gifts which are produced by artisans. We will have Alternative Christmas Gifts at the December 18 Coffee Fellowship: Heifer International, PC(USA), and Church World Service all offer unique gifts for those who already have too many sweaters and scarves.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

God's Promises are Faithful, and We Respond in Faith

When we hear "stewardship" perhaps we cringe, or sigh, or reach for our pen and checkbook. Because we know what's coming, right? It's the pledge season at church. This fall, we have been hearing the stories of God's promises: to Abraham and Sara, to Isaac, to Moses and the people, to Hannah and David. God's Promises are Faithful... and we respond in Faith.

Stewardship is a positive word. It expresses not only what we do, but who we are. We trivialize stewardship in the church if we limit it to financial campaigns. Granted, the finances of the church are crucially important. The church cannot carry out its ministries and be God's mission to the world without financial support. Therefore, stewardship does surely embrace our financial commitments to the church. But there is more.

Stewardship is what we do with the resources we have been given by a generous God. What we do with resources expresses who we are.

So, truly, being a "steward" is a central metaphor for our Christian lives. Stewardship is all embracing.

Stewardship is the broadest possible image of who we are and what we do. To view our lives through stewardship is to open windows to new perspectives that can enlarge our vision and show us ways of living we never envisioned before.

We support the church financially to enable the church's ministries to take place.

To love as good stewards is a great gift. Good stewardship constitutes our response to a generous, loving God who created us and loves us and saved us in Jesus Christ. Stewardship is our life of gratitude to the God who loves and redeems creation in Jesus Christ. God's grace is given to us, and we respond in gratitude. This is the rhythm of our lives.

Pledges will be dedicated in church on Sunday, November 13. Please prayerfully consider how you will respond to God's Faithful Promises, and support this church.

Pastor Nancy