My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…
Sunday, December 24, Advent Service 9:30 a.m. (one service only)
Sunday, December 24, Christmas Eve services 3:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
No Wednesday evening services December 20 and 27
Sunday, December 31, one service only at 9:30 a.m.
Recently, I have had a couple of occasions when people have asked me what I “do for a living.” I had a lovely conversation with the young woman sitting next to me on my train ride back from Iowa, who had never known that women can be pastors.
A few days later, I was at Kroger. One of the baggers likes to engage in conversation, and she asked me what I was doing for Christmas, which led to me saying what I “do for a living.” There was a brief pause, and then she exclaimed, “You get to talk about Jesus!”
In all my years as a pastor, I have never heard my vocation summed up so simply and beautifully. Talking about Jesus is, in fact, the very foundation of what I am blessed to do as one called to be a pastor.
And as I think about it, isn’t that at the heart of the vocation of every Christian? No matter what we “do for a living,” our call is to proclaim our Lord in many and various ways; through our words and our actions.
What a gift it would be to the world in this holy season if we took new joy in that calling, and if we looked for ways to talk about Jesus every day. Who do you know who needs to hear the promise of the One born in Bethlehem? Who needs to hear about Jesus through a conversation or through a kind act? If we can do that at Christmas, how lovely would it be if we remember all year long that we are blessed to be the ones who get to talk about Jesus!
The prophet Isaiah foretold Jesus as “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Jesus comes to redeem us, to claim us as God’s children, and to promise us forgiveness, eternal life, and a love deeper and wider than we can even imagine. That is news too good to keep to ourselves!
Blessings to you this Christmas and always.
The Readings for Sunday December 24, 2023
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Meditation on Luke 1:26-38
By Vicar Dave
Gabriel’s been a bit busy lately. He’s had to go to two different families and give them some astonishing news. First, he went to Zechariah to tell him that Elizabeth, his wife, will bear a son who will be the herald of the Lord. Zechariah had his doubts because of his and his wife’s ages. He asks, “What proof is there for this?” Gabriel seems perturbed by this, telling Zechariah that he, Gabriel, stands in God’s presence and that God had sent him to deliver this good new to him. Because of his doubts, Zechariah is struck mute until John is born.
Shortly thereafter, Gabriel is sent to Mary to deliver similar news. Mary is much younger than Elizabeth, probably a teenager, and still a virgin. Like Zechariah, Mary has questions. “How can this be? I’m still a virgin.” Maybe it was the way she expressed her doubts by asking how it would happen instead of questioning the validity of Gabriel’s message by asking for proof, but Mary’s doubts don’t seem to bother Gabriel. Mary, of course, consents to bearing God’s son and Gabriel leaves her.
When Mary responded in obedience to God’s will she experienced many blessings, but she also experienced pain. Mary experienced blessings when she witnessed her son provide the fresh wine for the wedding feast. She was blessed by his help in the family business for 30 years. Then she witnessed his public ministry and was blessed by all his amazing miracles of healing and his words spoken with authority.
As Jesus was being crucified, Mary had the painful experience of watching her son hang and ultimately die on the cross. I’ve often heard it said that one of the worst pains a parent can experience is to have their child die before they do. It just doesn’t seem right when that happens. When Mary gave birth to Jesus, she believed He’d be the savior of the world. Watching Him die on the cross must have made her feel that dream shatter. We all want God to give us comfort, but the truth is that sometimes we have to go through times of crisis. When that happens, God doesn’t abandon us, He walks that path with us.
This year, as we wait for the miracle of Jesus birth, let’s experience all of the joy as we anticipate Christmas morning, but let’s not forget that it’s only the beginning of Jesus story. There will be lots of joys and hurts along the way, culminating in the joy of our salvation when we witness the risen Christ on Easter morning!
Please join us – Sunday Fellowship Time
In Fellowship Hall
December 24th – Mary Schneider
December 31st – Wendy McCall and Deb Fallon
Meet Mike Brogan our new Custodian!
Please welcome our new custodian, Mike Brogan. Mike began last week and is catching on quickly. He is focused on keeping our building clean and presentable to members and guests. We look forward to Mike being with us for a long time.
Church Council Highlights from the December 12th meeting:
- We welcome the Wilt Family in to membership at Grace.
- Nearly $30,000 has been collected and deposited toward the deficit reduction. Our deficit was $23,000.
- Burrito Blessings is December 30, 2023. Help is needed beginning at 8am.
- Blood drive will be January 11, 2024. 12:00pm – 6pm here at Grace. Please see Gretchen Hiatt if you can donate.
- We had 18 Intention Cards returned for a total monthly pledge of $5878 for 2024.
- Council approved signs be made and set out daily for visitors to see the times of our services.
- We have a new custodian! Michael Brogan started December 14th.
The next Grace Council meeting will be January 9, 2024 at 6:30pm
VP of Ministries
Many thanks to all those who contributed to our Deficit Reduction giving. These gifts of love and trust total almost $30,000, including the $10,000 matching gift from a member of our church family.
Our shared challenge now is to sustain our giving throughout the year so that we might nurture the mission and ministry of Grace. We also are now blessed to be able to dream a bit about how these offerings might be used to put some dreams into action—dreams that will help us Bless the World: Be God’s Grace! in new and exciting ways.
This is an exciting time to be God’s people at Grace! May we continue to trust in the abundance of God and strive to broaden our mission, even as we give thanks for God’s abundance.
Behind the scenes at Grace …..by Gretchen
- The Christmas Cactus next to the office is absolutely gorgeous! A matriarch of the church has said that this cactus was from a very small start from Emily Halbert many, many years ago! It is blooming right on time!
- Sunday’s service was awesome! The readings, music and choir were wonderful.
- Last Wednesday Children’s Services picked up all the toys and blankets and wonderful things collected under the Christmas Tree and rumor has it that the car was packed! Thank you to all who donated. We are continuing to add to the tree with mittens, hats and scarves.
- Don’t forget to bring an ornament for the Sunday School ornament tree. Please add your name and the date.
- We have a new custodian, and his name is Mike! Please welcome him!!
- Remember: Grace is not the building but the people of Grace carrying out God’s mission!!!!
Healthy People! Healthy Parish!
An Alternative Exercise Program!!
Have you already been enjoying the sweet treats, Chex mix and cheeseballs of the holiday season? Along with all the goodies we often see the weight go up – some studies say that there can be as much as 5 pounds gained during the holiday season! Along with this goes the slugs – is dark earlier, colder and with all this great food people just want to take a nap! This doesn’t help either with the weight .
So, there is a new workout program out there! It is called and hold onto your running shoes – HOUSE CLEANING! Yep, cleaning your house from top to bottom can burn calories and works muscles.
Dusting: Uses your shoulders and arms. Incorporate lunges and squats as you move through the house. Very carefully do standing leg lifts as you reach to dust shelves or that chandelier.
Bathrooms (ugh): You are going after stubborn dirt and grime at all different heights on all sorts of surfaces uses all sorts of muscle groups. Scrubbing works the muscles in hands, arms and shoulders – think marvelous biceps! When cleaning the mirror standing on your toes stretches the calf muscles and you can even incorporate squats – think sculptured calves.
Kitchen: This room will use the same muscles as the bathroom. You can also do counter pushups – lean against the counter and let your arms push you out while your feet are planted on the floor. Loading and unloading the dishwasher is also great as all sorts of muscle groups are used bending down and then reaching to put away.
Laundry: Bending and stretching work into folding clothes and putting them away. Add the counter pushups using the dresser or closet door – 5 push ups between every 5 pieces of folded laundry ( no cheating – a pair of socks count for 2 pushups not one!)
Floor Cleaning: Vacuuming and mopping floors works the core muscles. When mopping or sweeping with a broom – switch arms as you use a different set of muscles for each side. Moving things around to get that cracker crumb or popcorn kernel uses that arm muscles but use good body mechanics when moving heavy items.
Start this exercise program and you will not only have heath benefits but a cleaner house which actually helps us feel good too!
The Internet and Health Claims!
The Internet is alive and well for all sorts of health information and we all take advantage of the easy access to this information. We should also be aware that not all the information that is posted is always correct.
Ask the following questions when researching health information:
Is the claim based on personal experience?
Blog posts, Facebook, personal stories and testimonials are interesting but are subject to bias of that individual and not always true for everyone.
Are there studies that back this up?
Are they from reliable sources – check out the source. Prefer information that talks about studies involving people not animals.
Is someone making money here?
Stay away from health claims linked to product sales.
Is it too good to be true?
A sensational claim of “a cure” for most things needs to be checked out. Check with your MD about it.
Caring! Kindness! Giving Back!
All things that can be accomplished by donating blood!
The first of the year typically finds the Red Cross experiencing a more than usual shortage as there have not been as many drives during the holidays and the needs increase with accidents.
Check out our “Blood On The Move” poster to see where donors’ blood has gone!
Please consider being a donor!
Our first drive of the year is Thursday January 11 from 12 – 6 PM. You may schedule online or call Gretchen Hiatt 419.944.5166 to schedule an appointment.
The deadline for turning in articles for the newsletter is 10:00 a.m. Monday morning OR when the newsletter is full. 8 pages is the maximum we can send in the mail. Thank you!
Wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas!
~Cathy (Office Manager)
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!