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2013 Advent Calendar!

Advent 3Slow down.  Quiet.  Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent!

 

Each day during Advent 2013, we will feature a special calendar entry on our “Food for Thought” page with days and ways to keep faith with the season.

This calendar during Advent is much more than the place to count down Christmas shopping days.  It includes suggestions for each day such as do a good deed, pray, be thoughtful in the holiday rush, write a nice note, or think about the real meaning of Christmas.

It’s a gentle and fun to read reminder of the true meaning of the season.

Advent posters with our entire calendar for Advent 2013 are available on the table in the back of our Sanctuary.

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Be Grateful…for All of God’s Blessings

BlessingsThe author of this psalm isn’t identified.  But he apparently wrote it to celebrate a great victory in battle, which he compared to God’s rescue of the Israelites by parting the Red Sea.

He recalls the praying that preceded God’s delivering actions, and reaffirms his commitment to follow through on promises made to God when his back was against the wall.

Interact with God’s Word

Psalm 66:8-12

  1. What disasters (vv. 11-12a) does the writer of this psalm attribute to God’s initiative?

 

  1. What positive aspects does he see (vv. 9b-10) from these hard times?

 

  1. What outcome (v. 12b) has triggered the exuberance of this psalm?

 

  1. To what conclusion (v. 9a) does this combination of trial and triumph drive the psalm writer?

 

  1. What response should this realization evoke in us (v. 8)?

 

  1. Have trials you have undergone helped you realize that life is a gift from God to be cherished, and not a right to be taken for granted?

 

Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God to enable you to see His design behind your disappointments, and to become sincerely grateful for His interventions in your life.

Psalm 66:8-12

8 Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises. 9 Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. 10 You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. 11 You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. 12 Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.

 

 

Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.

Be Grateful…for Rotten Potatoes?

Throwing StonesKey Bible Verse:  Always give thanks for everything to God … in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20

Bonus Reading:   Genesis 37:18-35; 50:15-21

I was driving a busload of rambunctious boys back from summer camp.  In the rearview mirror I saw Dez, our program director, struggle to limit insults and punches.  

Entering Camden, a newer boy demanded, “Drop me off here, mister.”  As I braked, he bolted out the door and, to impress with his toughness, screamed, “I’m gonna *#$@! brick this bus.”  I shifted into first and slammed the gas pedal to the floor.

Projectiles struck the side of our former school bus.  “He’s throwing potatoes!” one kid yelled.  As the bus lurched past our attacker, half a sack of rotten potatoes rocketed through the open rear window, pelting seats and rolling down the aisle.  What a stench!

“Dez, I can’t believe I stopped in front of a bag of rotten potatoes,” I moaned later as I headed the now empty bus back to the center.  “Why would God allow that?”  I resented the prospect of scraping mushy potatoes off the seats and scrubbing the outside of the bus.

“That kid said he was going to brick the bus,” Dez reminded me.  “If he had, windows would be broken, kids injured, and the bus a dented mess.  Maybe God did intervene by substituting soft potatoes for bricks or bottles.”

—Bruce Main in Spotting the Sacred

 

My Response: When things don’t go my way, do I look for ways God is still at work?

Adapted from Dad Was a Carpenter (Harper-SanFrancisco)

 

 

Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.

Be Grateful for…Thanksgiving Day

Happy ThanksgivingBible Verse for Thanksgiving Day:  Since everything God created is good, … receive it gladly, with thankful hearts.  – 1 Timothy 4:4

In September 1975, I left California to enter college in Massachusetts.  For the next 75 days, I lived in a freshman dorm, a rather Spartan existence, but not an unpleasant one.

Since I couldn’t afford to go home for Thanksgiving, I traveled by bus to central Connecticut to join some family friends for the holiday.  On Thanksgiving Eve, as I retired to my room, I slipped off my shoes and socks to unpack my bags.  I felt the carpet under my bare feet, enjoying the softness and the feel of the threads between my toes.

Suddenly it dawned on me that I hadn’t felt a carpet like this since I’d left home.  For two-and-a-half months, I’d felt only dusty linoleum underneath my bare feet.  But now, in a real home, I delighted in the sumptuousness of wall-to-wall carpet.

I had grown up in a home with carpet—bronze shag, to be exact.  But I had never appreciated the feel of carpet beneath my feet until that moment.

How could something so ordinary feel so enjoyable?  I wondered what else I’d been taking for granted.  That weekend in Connecticut added several other items to my list of newly discovered appreciation, including ceramic mugs, quiet nights, and a bathroom heater.

—Mark Roberts in No Holds Barred

 

Thought to Apply:  I feel a very unusual sensation.  If it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.  – Benjamin Disraeli (English prime minister)

Adapted from No Holds Barred (WaterBrook, 2005)

 

 

Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.

Be Grateful…for the Entire Food Chain?

Prayer 7Key Bible Verse:  Let them praise the Lord … for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.  Psalm 107: 8-9

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 65: 9-12

A steaming dinner was served on fine bone china.  I was impressed, starved, and ready to indulge.  “Please bow your head,” our host said.

“Lord,” he began, “thank you for Your gift of this culinary masterpiece.  Thank you for the sacrifice of those who labor in the potato fields under the hot sun, day after day.  May they experience Your grace amid their monotonous, backbreaking work.  We pray for the provision of life’s basic necessities for the families of the immigrant laborers who picked the beans.  They encounter low wages, and difficult working conditions.  We pray for those who advocate on their behalf, and for justice.

We pray also for the truck drivers who deliver our food, often away from their families for days on end.  And for those who’ve cooked this meal and will wash our dishes.  We’re grateful that they’ve given us the gift of time so that we may engage in exercises of mind and spirit.  And now, may we savor both this food—come to us from so many hands and over so many miles—and each other’s company.  Amen.”

Silence.  Slowly the heads rose and eyes opened, looking a little tentative and stunned.  We’d just been jolted into recognizing the miracle of our meal.

—Bruce Main in Spotting the Sacred

 

My Response:  Is gratitude moving me beyond self-centered greed to considering the lives and sacrifices of others?

 

Thought to Apply:  Even the hen lifts her head toward heaven when swallowing her grain. —African proverb

Adapted from Spotting the Sacred (Baker, 2006)

 

 

Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2

Thanksgiving Cornucopia

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

As we gather this day as a community to celebrate together and be thankful, you are invited to consider using all or a portion of these meditations in your prayers as you celebrate with family and friends this week around your Thanksgiving table. The churches of the Beaver Falls United Methodist Charge: Central/Riverview wish you a safe and wonderful holiday and we pray God’s peace and blessings upon you on this special day!

Blessings,

Pastor Heidi

These elements of our table remind us of God’s mighty acts in Jesus Christ:

The tables spread with beautiful decoration and linens in preparation for our feast remind us that our God spares nothing in loving and blessing God’s people. We prepare both our hearts and our bodies to receive these gifts of the bounty of His creation and His steadfast love.  We acknowledge that we are strengthened and enabled to receive these gifts of God’s kingdom by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit made possible through the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  We pray for those whom we have failed to include around our tables today and for those who have excluded themselves. We pray for God’s mercy and that we might make clear God’s invitation to all to God’s table of abundance.

We are provided bread on our tables, an essential daily sustenance which reminds us that God desires that no one leave this table hungry.  We receive this bread that satisfies our hunger and are reminded to be thankful for God’s provision in Christ.  As we have been so nourished and strengthened, we ask now for strength to follow the call of Christ to share the love of our Lord and our bread with those who hunger in body and spirit.

We consider the water that has been provided to satisfy our thirst and we remember the call of Christ, first to the woman at the well, and now to us to receive the living water Christ provides that we may never thirst again.   We drink in fellowship today, as we pray for those who are alone and without access to even this basic element of life for body and spirit. 

We consider the fruit of the vine which we have received.   We are reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, whose body was broken for us upon the Cross in order that we might live forever and blameless before our God.  This demonstrates for us that a life of faith requires a changed, broken heart.  Both pressure and time are required as the fruit ferments to produce fine wine.   And so we pray for strength to persevere in our faith as the oppression of a sinful world and the consequences of our own sinfulness press down and threaten to crush and cause us to turn away.  We pray for softened hearts willing to receive Your love and discipline and yield the desired fruit of Your Spirit.  Break our hearts of stone! 

We observe tables that are filled with a Cornucopia of the harvest –representing the gift and abundance of Your creation and Your gracious provision for Your people.  The abundance of our table, like Your love, is pressed down and filled to overflowing. We give you all thanks and glory and honor and praise.  We are reminded that You call us to care for all the earth and it’s creatures.  We pray for Your mercy for the times when we have misused your creation and ask for wisdom in discerning the most honorable use of these gifts for the well-being of all.

As we partake of the various bounty of the meal, we are thankful for the turkey.  It causes us to consider the sacrifice of others-both humans and creatures, for our prosperity and good health.  We live in land that we did not labor for, enjoy the bounty of crops and vineyards that we did not plant and occupy houses and towns that were built by others.  We pray for those without benefit of food and shelter and petition you for the means and strength to share with others out of the abundance You have provided to us.

At our table are salt and other seasonings. We have stuffing that is savory and sweet pumpkin pie.  You, O Lord, have given us a life in You that is filled with variety and creativity.  You provide for us more than necessities.   We are in awe of this variety.  We pray for those times when we have preferred blandness and refused to welcome variety in learning, praising, worshipping and receiving Your people whom you have sent to us.  We ask mercy for times when we have grown flavorless and failed to receive joyfully the grace and gifts you have provided.

Even potatoes are symbols of the danger of remaining in darkness and , at the same time, the miracle of faith in You.  Without the light of Christ we have no ears to hear or eyes to see the wonders of your mercy and love.  Surrounded by the darkness of our ignorance and sin we are like potatoes buried in the dirt.  But what a miracle! We will soon begin to prepare our hearts for the Advent season and the celebration of the coming of Your light, Jesus Christ, into the world. We cannot understand how we are able to be transformed by the love of the Incarnate God with Us!  Transformed by light and the grace of our Savior, we may choose to have eyes of faith that are focused beyond darkness, beyond what can be seen and place our trust in You.  We pray for strength to continue to grow in knowledge, love and service of Christ though surrounded by darkness.

As we serve and are served by one another and as we fellowship together, sharing all that we have, we remember that God condescended to us to be present with us in human form.  Christ came as Savior and as servant and slave to all in love.  We pray for Your peace as we witness confusion, panic and countless acts of destruction and selfishness in our homes and in our streets.  Help us to be agents of peace who are able to point to you as Author of Salvation, in whom all may find comfort and healing.  We pray for a spirit of humbleness as we recall, with contrite hearts, all those in our lives, our churches, our neighborhoods and the world whom we have failed and harmed by putting our own selfish needs and desires ahead of others.  Embolden our faith that we might conform our hearts to that of a servant performing ever greater acts of peace, love and service to our neighbor, our world and our God.

Thanksgiving 3

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving 4Key Bible Verse: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Philippians 4:6, NASB

Dig Deeper:  Psalm 100

Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorite holidays, especially considering the five “f’s” it includes: faith, family, food, football, and the four-day weekend.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s a tough combination to beat.

And talk about positive and upbeat!  Pausing to express gratitude for one’s blessings breathes life into anyone’s soul.  Even in times of trial and heartache, when it’s most difficult to see life’s glass as half full instead of half empty, stopping to give thanks makes a difference.

Thanksgiving’s such a great holiday—it’s a shame we celebrate it only once a year.  Maybe we should change that fact.

Consider again Paul’s words in today’s Key Bible Verse: I see the phrase “with thanksgiving” as a secret that Paul has learned, enabling him to find contentment in spite of his circumstances.  Thanksgiving is a critical ingredient.

When we humbly bring ourselves and our requests before God (supplication), we should do that “with thanksgiving.”  What a privilege to be able to bring our requests to him, and what a benefit to know that he’ll answer in a way and in a time that are perfect for us.  These truths provide us with good reason to give thanks.

—Don Cousins in Unexplainable

 

My Response: During my prayer times over the next several days, I will consciously thank God for at least one blessing in my life.

 

Thought to Apply: All our discontents about what we want appear to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.—Daniel Defoe (British writer, journalist)

Adapted from Unexplainable (Cook, 2009).

 

Thanksgiving Prayer:  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for providing for my daily needs; help me to find my contentment in you and you alone, so that I might experience the kind of peace that’s unexplainable apart from you.

Be Grateful…for Taking a Hit?

Wounded SoldiersKey Bible Verse: Whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus … giving thanks … to God.  Colossians 3:17

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 66: 8-12

Rooming with John Listemann at officers’ school in Quantico, Virginia, I’d learned he was a Christian and a nice guy.  Assigned to the same battalion at Camp Pendleton, I’d observed an aggressive, technically proficient leader.

On a December morning in 1965 in Vietnam, John and I went to war.  His war lasted one day. Moving on patrol down a jungle trail, we rounded a corner and ran into an ambush.

The first round, a 50-caliber round, hit his kneecap with a loud crack that threw him up in the air.  As he dropped, the second round hit him below the heart and exited his side.  I was also wounded, but nowhere nearly as bad.

I saw John about 30 meters away on his back, his leg blown off.  I crawled up to him to see if I could do anything.  Before I could ask, he turned to me and said, “How are you doing, Chucker?  Are you okay?”  “I’m okay,” I assured him.

“Are my men safe?” he asked.  “John, your people are okay,” I replied. As I looked on dumbfounded, he turned his head skyward and said, “Thank you, Lord, thank you.  Thank you for caring for my people.  Thank you for caring for me.”

(We both survived, were evacuated, and I later became a Christian.)

—General Charles Krulak, U.S. Marine Corps (retired)

 

My Response:  Have I expressed unexpected gratitude?  What was its effect?

 

Thought to Apply:  A really thankful heart will extract motive for gratitude from everything, making the most even of scanty blessings.  —source unknown

 

Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.

Be Grateful…for Dad’s Death?

Father in Hospital BedKey Bible Verse: “Death is swallowed up in victory …” How we thank God, who gives us victory.”  1 Corinthians 15: 54,57

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 5: 4-9

I sat on my father’s hospital bed, his body beside me.  I reached over and lifted off the now useless oxygen hose that awkwardly hung around his head.  Three tubes protruded from his abdomen.  The silent heart monitor clung to the index finger on his left hand.  His unseeing eyes stared heavenward.  My father’s dead!  I was stunned.

I thought my prayers had failed.  Through the five days of Dad’s hospitalization, I’d prayed for a miracle.  Still, death prevailed.

Later, as I walked out the revolving hospital door, a beautiful late May afternoon greeted me.  A robin sang in a nearby tree. A row of forsythia bushes was in full blossom.  The brilliant sunshine warmed my tear-stained cheeks.  I opened my eyes to a fatherless world.  Then, a thought occurred to me: What a beautiful day to die.  Dad would have been grateful to die today.

As I walked to my car, I said a prayer of thanks that Dad didn’t suffer long, that his hospital room was filled with family, that his departure had been peaceful and pain-free.

I thought of Jesus’ words, “Don’t be troubled” (John 14:1).  How could my broken heart be thankful?—yet I could.  Gratitude is a choice.

—Cliff Denay Jr. in Michigan

 

My Response: Jesus’ charge (above) came right after announcing His imminent departure.  How is gratitude linked to trust?

 

Thought to Apply:  The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts, nevertheless they set aside a day of thanksgiving .—H. W. Westermeyer

 

 

Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.

Be Grateful…for Being Laid Off?

Laid Off WorkerKey Bible Verse:  No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ.  – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Bonus Reading:  Habakkuk 3: 17-19a

People who want to volunteer here at UrbanPromise Ministries aren’t unusual.

Sadly, many lack skills or don’t follow through on their intentions.  So when the caller said, “My name is Jack Harvey.  Could you use any volunteer help?  I’ve been laid off from my job,” I was dubious.  “What did you have in mind?” I asked.

“I can do most anything—fix vans, cut lawns, clean bathrooms …”  Since I’d just let my maintenance man go because of budget cuts, this was beginning to sound good.  “How ’bout tomorrow?” I said.

By ten the next morning our new volunteer was propelling the mower through six-inch-high grass.  I paused, on my way to lunch, to thank him for his efforts.

“Jack!” I yelled over the whine of the engine.  He throttled the mower down.  “Thanks for being so generous with your time.  I really appreciate it.”

“God gave me this time as a gift,” he replied.  “I want to use it to bless others.”

As I headed off to my car I reflected on how, instead of turning bitter, stressed, or anxious, this young man had decided to view his current circumstances as part of a larger drama being directed by God, and his time as a gift to be shared.

—Bruce Main in Spotting the Sacred

 

My Response: Do I see a setback as a curse/punishment, or look for the gift/blessing?

Adapted from Spotting the Sacred (Baker, 2006)

 

 

Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.

Be Grateful…for Swabbies?

Thankful SoldierWho Said It…Charlie Plumb

A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, J. Charles Plumb flew 74 successful missions over North Vietnam.  But on his 75th mission, his F-4 Phantom jet was struck by a surface-to-air missile.

Charlie ejected, parachuting into enemy hands.  He was tortured and confined for six years, functioning, for two of them, as prison camp chaplain.

Plumb, whose awards include two Purple Hearts, the Legion of Merit, and the POW Medal, is now a motivational speaker.

 

What He Said…… for Swabbies?

Susan and I were eating at a Kansas City restaurant.  Two tables away, a man I didn’t recognize kept staring at me.  Then he walked over: “You’re Captain Plumb!”  “Yes sir,” I acknowledged, rising.

“You flew jet fighters from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk,” he said. “You were shot down!”

I asked, “How in the world did you know that?”

“Because I packed your parachute.” I gasped in surprise and held out my hand.  He pumped it: “I guess it worked!”

“It sure did!” I assured him and expressed a long-delayed word of thanks.

That night sleep evaded me.  What had that man looked like with a Dixie-cup hat, a bib in back, and bell-bottom trousers?  How many times had I seen him without bothering to say “Good morning,” because I was a fighter pilot and he a lowly sailor?  

How many hours had he spent weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of those chutes?  I could have cared less—until the day my survival depended on it.

Adapted from Insights Into Excellence (Executive Books, 1989, 1991, 1993)

 

Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.

Doing some online shopping?

Doing some online shopping?

Pick “a little something” out for Central Church while you”re at it.

 

What if you could buy the things you need online and give to your church at the Cash Registersame time? At no cost to you or your church? CHA-CHING!

You’re going, “NO WAY!” But this isn’t a too-good-to-be-true type of thing. This is the UMCmarket, a shopping portal that pays a commission of 1-9 percent to your church with zero effort on your church’s part and no increased costs to you.

The United Methodist Church*, in partnership with some of the largest online retailers, have built a shopping tool that provides a cash benefit for your church when you purchase through the UMCmarket — items you’d probably be buying anyway. The retailer does not markup the price any — you still pay what you’d pay as you did before.

How does it work? Simply create an account at UMCMarket.org and designate the church of your choosing.

Cash from Hat

Then when you’re ready to buy, just log into your UMCmarket account and shop at any of the partner retailers and, PRESTO, a percentage of the sale is given to the beneficiary you designated in your account settings.

We just blew your mind, right? Seems too complicated or you don’t want to have to remember to log into your account every time you go shopping? Don’t worry. There’s even an add-on for your Web browser to make the process even easier. VOILA! You’re done and ready to shop!

Camera

Buy a camera from Amazon? SAY CHEESE! Your church just got a shot of money. Book that trip at Expedia? WHOOSH! A veritable money-postcard is delivered to your church while you’re sitting on the beach. Order that dress you’ve been keeping an eye on at Macy’s? CYMBAL-CRASH! A virtual Thanksgiving Day Parade marches into your church’s office like a float made of money.

TICK-TOCK. What are you waiting for? Sign up today at UMCmarket.org.

Learn more by watching this video:

UMC Market Donate Video Icon

Or by contacting us at info@umcmarket.org

2013 Advent Worship and Events

Central UMC’s Advent/Christmas Worship and Events 

Advent 1

2013 Advent/Christmas Worship Theme:

“Behold! Our Journey with Christ:  The “Advent”ure of a Lifetime!”

Our congregation invites you to come and celebrate the season with us in worship and fellowship. 

Each Sunday will emphasize a different aspect of our theme:

 

Saturday, November 30:

11:00 AM  Deck the Halls – Come and fellowship with us as we prepare the church for the season.

 

Sunday, December 1: 

11:30 AM  Hanging of the Greens Service – A celebration of Hope & the Symbols of Advent and Christmas.        

Worship focus:  “Mary and the Angels”

 

Sunday, December 8: 

11:30 AM  Celebrating God’s Peace            

Worship Focus:  “Joseph and the City of Bethlehem”

             

 6:00 PM  Church Christmas Dinner

 

Sunday, December 15:

  11:30 AM  Celebrating the Joy of God’s Grace       

Worship Focus:  “Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth”

 

 

Saturday, December 21: 

6:00 PM     Meet at the church for Christmas Caroling in Beaver Falls

 

Sunday, December 22: 

11:30 AM      Celebrating the Love of God.          

Worship Focus:  “The Journey to Bethlehem”

 

Tuesday, December 24:  Christmas Eve

4:00-5:00 PM  Free Community Dinner at Central

5:00-5:30 PM  Special Concert of Christmas Music

5:30-6:30 PM   Luminaries & Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – A Celebration of the Light of the Savior Come to Earth.    

Worship Focus:  “The  Manger and the Birth of Jesus” 

 

7:00 PM       at Riverview UMC – Luminaries & Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – A Celebration of the Light of the Savior Come to Earth.     

 Worship Focus:  “The  Manger and the Birth of Jesus” 

 

Sunday, December 29: 

11:30 AM      A Service of Lessons and Carols – Recounting the prophecy of a Messiah and Birth of Christ in Scripture interspersed with the beautiful carols we love to sing.

 

Sunday, January 5, 2014: 

11:30 AM      Epiphany Sunday     

Worship Focus:  “The Magi and the Star”

 

 

 

Mission Focus for Advent: 

Local:              Tower of Hope Pregnancy and Parenting Center

International:      Heifer International

Philippines Typhoon: The Church Responds

Typhoon HaiyanTyphoon Haiyan, possibly the strongest storm ever to make landfall, battered parts of the Philippines on Friday, November 8, 2013.

With sustained winds of 195 mph, the category 5 storm cut a swath of devastation across the tip of Cebu and tore through the three large island provinces of Samar, Leyte and Bohol.  

UMCOR, the relief agency of The United Methodist Church, is working with partners in the Philippines to provide assistance following the typhoon.

United Methodists across the globe are in solidarity with the people in the Philippines and all those affected, offering prayers, support and aid.

Click on this link to see a special message from the makers of “Chuck Knows Church” concerning aid efforts in the Philippines.

Read the latest news about the Church’s commitment to long-term recovery efforts.  Donate to the cause at UMCOR’s website: Disaster Response, International (#982450): Typhoon Haiyan (sub-designation).

You can also text the word UMCOR to 80888 to give an immediate $10 donation.

Thanksgiving

Our pastor, Rev. Heidi Helsel

Our pastor, Rev. Heidi Helsel

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you prepare to celebrate with family and friends this year, may you come together in peace and enjoy the fullness of the blessings of God!   Let us take time to remember and say thank you for God’s blessings as we consider and prepare for the holiday season.  A season which, rather than urging and helping us to focus on being thankful for all that we have already received, often beacons us to focus on what we are lacking.  Often the peace that God means for us to experience during this time of celebrating our blessings escapes us.  We become more and more anxious over the things that the world counts as “necessary” for life, like that new car, a better job, a more beautiful spouse or at least the 15-function coffee maker. 

            God calls us to a different, more peace-filled kind of wanting, a desire for more of God and what only God can provide. God’s grace washes away our mistakes and our endless hunger and thirst for things that don’t satisfy.  By choosing to receive God’s grace we can come to trust God to meet our earthly and heavenly needs.  When we embrace the fullness of the reality of our blessings, we are freed from our self-interest and we can begin to work for the needs of others i.e., the need for God’s grace, for compassion, for mercy and especially, for love. We become slaves to Christ instead of to self. Therefore, we can have peace in following Christ from a sense of fullness instead of the resentful obligation born of the endless wanting that comes from spiritual emptiness.

            As we consider what it means to be thankful, let us not forget our calling to take up our cross and walk with God, humbly.  Let us, as Wesley might encourage us, “do all the good we can, in all the ways we can, to as many as we can.” (paraphrase).   Our Charge has received many blessings this year and I believe that God will continue to bless our ministry together.  These blessings will increase as we allow God to give us eyes that see beyond our own needs.  As we are able to live into the reality of what we have already been given, we will gain greater vision and hearing to acknowledge with whom we might share the love of Christ.  Let us not grow weary in “doing good”.  The fruits of perseverance are hard won, but Christ is walking with us always.  We may struggle and yet we are full- of love and mercy.

            I’d like to ask that as we consider our Thanksgiving gifts to the church this year, let us entrust God with the treasure God has given us to use these gifts to bless our communities in ways we may not have considered.  The needs of the community are many.  Happy Thanksgiving! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Your Fellow Servant in Christ,

Pastor Heidi

New Advent Study – The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem

The JourneyThis Advent, beginning on December 1, the first Sunday of Advent, Central Church will embark on a Churchwide study of “The Journey.”

The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem” explores the story of Jesus’ birth with fresh eye and ears in order to discover the real meaning of Christmas.  Author Adam Hamilton draws upon insights gained from historians, archaeologists, biblical scholars, and theologians and from walking in the places where the story occurred.

The aim of this study, like the aim of the book upon which it is based, is to help you better understand the events that led up to the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem; to see more clearly the theological significance of the Nativity; and to reflect upon the meaning of these events for your life.

The focal Scripture texts will be Luke and Matthew’s accounts of the Annunciation, Mary’s visit with Elizabeth, Joseph’s dream of an angel, the walk to Bethlehem, and the visits of the shepherds and, later, the magi.

Our Sunday School will be studying one chapter each week, beginning on Sunday, December 1, and Pastor Heidi will preach on that same chapter during our worship service that immediately follows our time together in Sunday School.

Our Churchwide Advent program for all ages will help people come to a deeper understanding of what the Christmas story teaches us about Jesus Christ and about God’s will for our lives.  Please plan on joining us for this time of study and wonder during the Advent season.

If you are unable to travel to Central Church each week, please consider embarking on your own Advent adventure using Adam Hamilton’s The Journey as your guide as we travel through Advent together.

Help Wanted!

Central - Ladies Restoom Floor - 11-19-2013Our Trustees have started a project to replace the tile floor in the downstairs Women’s Restroom!

But before the new tile can be installed, the old tile has to be removed.

To aid us in this work, we have a new hammer, chisel, and high-powered heat gun to help loosen and remove the old tile.  It’s tedious and time-consuming work, and our Trustees would appreciate your help if you can spare an hour or two.

The work is essentially a one-person operation, so anytime that you have a few minutes to spare, please come down to the Church and take up a tile (or ten)!

Once all of the old floor tiles are removed, Jeff and his merry band have volunteered to lead the effort to get our new tiles installed, so let’s all pitch in to get this project moving along before the rush of the Christmas season fills our schedules!

Billy Graham’s Last Crusade: ‘My Hope’ – Tonight!

Billy Graham - My Hope CrusadeBilly Graham will celebrate his 95th birthday tonight in appropriate fashion, launching his largest-ever and likely last crusade.

Local Viewing Information:

7:00 –    7:30 pm (EST) –  Billy Graham Birthday Special – UP (Comcast channel 190)

8:00 –    8:30 pm (EST) – My Hope – TBN (Comcast channel 290)

10:00 – 11:00 pm (EST) – My Hope – FNC (Comcast channel 34)

For other viewing opportunities, please click on this link:  Watch Billy Graham

More than 28,000 churches have pledged their involvement in “My Hope America with Billy Graham,” an event which pivots from the evangelist’s famous stadium-filling events to living rooms nationwide.

Based on Matthew 9:9-10, “My Hope” encourages Christians to invite non-Christian friends into their homes to watch a TV program featuring Graham. The video will feature clips of past sermons as well as a new message Graham has prepared—possibly his last.

However, this is not the first time the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has held the “My Hope” campaign. In fact, America is one of the last places to host the program.

The televised campaign—instituted through churches—has reached 57 countries since 2002, with more than 298,000 churches participating and more than 4.4 million Christians serving as “My Hope” hosts. The result: more than 10 million people have become Christians, claims the BGEA.

In Spain, the campaign launched in 2011 with more than 1,000 churches training approximately 8,500 individuals. In Zambia, the numbers were much higher: approximately 60,000 people in almost 6,000 churches participated in the “living room” crusade.

Among many examples the BGEA recounts from other countries, “My Hope” was so successful in Haiti that more churches had to be built to accommodate the number of new Christians. The BGEA registered more than 120,000 decisions for Christ in Haiti.

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were two of the last hosts in Latin America, where “My Hope” was first launched (in Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador). The BGEA has recorded more than three million “My Hope” decisions in 17 Latin American nations.

The largest and most complicated country to benefit from the “My Hope” program: India, where more than four million people responded to the initial “My Hope” program aired in 14 different languages.

“My Hope” concerned many Christians in Russia in 2004 because of a possible ban on evangelism. But the project continued, with showings in churches, prisons, hospitals, and other venues. The previous year, Russia’s “There is Hope” project required a different setup to account for the country’s 11 different time zones and large population (145 million people).

In Malawi, the country known as the “Warm Heart of Africa,” meetings often took place outdoors, using battery-powered projector units. Along the Amazon River in Brazil, where most villages did not have a Christian church or TVs to watch the broadcast version of “My Hope,” one missionary distributed DVDs and constructed churches along the way.

Among the many American responses to the campaign, Hawaiian pastors say the island’s hospitable and relational culture is a good fit for such an evangelism approach. A North Carolina college ministry showed the “My Hope” video to 1,000 students on Halloween night, while others are promoting the crusade through skate park ministry and throw-back tent revivals. At the Dakota County Jail in Minnesota, the program has led to inmate conversions.

A national broadcast of Billy Graham’s message to America will air tonight.

Local Viewing Information:

7:00 –    7:30 pm (EST) –  Billy Graham Birthday Special – UP (Comcast channel 190)

8:00 –    8:30 pm (EST) – My Hope – TBN (Comcast channel 290)

10:00 – 11:00 pm (EST) – My Hope – FNC (Comcast channel 34)

For other viewing opportunities, please click on this link:  Watch Billy Graham