December 22, 2016
for Sunday, Dec. 24
One of the things many believe is that wealth is a sign of success and God’s blessing. If one works hard and does all they can, God will bless them with wealth in this life. But, let’s take a look back at Jesus, his first disciples and others in scripture.
Jesus was crucified. Most of the disciples were martyred for their faith. Throughout history, there have been followers of Christ who have lost their lives because of their faith. So much for the idea of wealth being an indication of someone’s faithfulness as a follower of Jesus.
In this passage from Luke, we see the angels appearing not to the elite and rich. They appeared to shepherds, who were low on the societal totem pole. Shepherds were looked down upon even to the point of courts not trusting the testimony of shepherds in a court of law! However, these shepherds were obedient and made their way to Bethlehem.
How does God appear to people today? It depends on our needs. Those with no knowledge of Christ may experience God in a more tangible, miraculous way. Muslims, who believe in miracles, are open to such revelations of God.
When my family and I lived in Bethlehem, one of the Muslim young men we ministered to related this to one of our colleagues, “I was out walking. I saw the grass, the sky and I saw Jesus.” What???? That which we consider unusual, was common to our Muslim friends.
For those of us walking with the Lord, God’s will may be revealed through other members of the community of faith, through worship or through God’s word. We can be sure that if we are open, God will appear to us in any number of ways. After all, Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, “good news of great joy for all the people.” That includes you and me.
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Names will remain of the Prayer List for a month - at which
time it will be taken off unless, or course, there is still a continued need
for our prayers and we’re asked to keep the name on.
***The Choir will be singing at Lutheran’s Chapel TODAY, December 22nd, from 6:00-7:00 pm. All are welcome to come and join the fun.
***Snow Shoveling: The Property Committee is seeking volunteers to shovel both church entrances on Sundays during the winter. It involves being at church before 8:00 a.m. If you are able to help, please put your name on the sign-up sheet located on the table in the church narthex. THANK YOU!
***St. Timothy’s is collecting mittens, gloves, scarves and hats for those in need. Place your donations on the white stick tree on the table in the narthex.
***The Confirmation Class will not be meeting this Sunday. Class will resume after the holidays on January 15th at 10:45 am.
***On Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, we will have regular worship at 9:30 am. There will be no Sunday School on either day.
***The annual Congregational Meeting will be held Sunday, January 8, 2017 immediately following worship. A light lunch will be provided. All members of the congregation are encouraged to attend.
Committee heads: Please turn in your annual reports to the office by December 24th. (Electronic reports emailed to the church office, firstname.lastname@example.org are appreciated.)
*** Healthy Bones Exercise Class is on break for the holiday season. The new session starts Monday, January 9th at 9:00 am. Anyone is welcome to join this low-impact, bone-strengthening class, suitable for both men and women.
***St. Timothy has just finished the process of registering at AmazonSmile as a non-profit organization eligible to receive support from shoppers using AmazonSmile. It costs you nothing and the monies received will be placed into our Designated Fund to be distributed at the end of the calendar year to area organizations. Previous recipients include Bemus Point and Fluvanna Libraries, Meals on Wheels, 4 H, and Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. This is separate and aside from Goodsearch - where we also earn donations through their site for making purchases with their registered stores.
There are a number of ways to access this to receive 5% of your purchase as a donation to St. Timothy Lutheran Church:
-Through St. Timothy Website with this link: http://www.sttimothybemus.com/Shop-Amazon.html
- Directly with this link:https://smile.amazon.com/?ie=UTF8&ein=16-1117683&ref_=smi_ext_ch_16-1117683_cl&ref_=smi_ext_ch_16-1117683_dl
Once you get to this page, bookmark it for future use throughout the year. If you are already a shopper at Amazon, why not use Amazon Smile!
***Make plans to attend the Christmas Eve worship service at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Saturday, December 24th at 4:00 pm.
We will light the white Christ candle, the last candle in the Advent Wreath and observe Holy Commummuion.
Bring your family and friends to participate in joyous, candlelit worship, singing familiar carols while observing the birth of our Savior.
from John Stanley Macholz, Bishop
Upstate New York Synod-ELCA
They stand beside a feeding trough
and look with wonder and delight,
and yes, perhaps some fear,
as Jesus sleeps in heavenly peace, or not.
Their breathing, seen in crisp night air,
Suggests the weariness they feel as
Night moves on and bodies now react
To recent days of travel up and down
The hills and valleys of the distance
They have come to be here in this place
And register and yet, more wonderfully
To birth God's own and only son.
Their world has changed although
They have no clue right now, still gathering
Their thoughts from what has been to
What has now become their life
And future and their hope.
This cattle barn is home to God.
And Mary's son, and Joseph's too
Will save them from their sins,
But that is for another day it seems.
Right now the cattle gathered in this place
To share this space with strangers,
Stand watch as well and offer their own
Song and quiet narrative to this
Unfolding drama that will impact life
And world to come in ways not yet
Imagined or hoped for it seems.
And just as night is setting down
And baby Jesus seems to be asleep
After some fussing and some crying,
Shepherds arrive to see this thing that's
Come to pass according to the
Heavenly host that sang to them a
Song so sweet yet unbelievable
Out in the fields where flocks were
Witness too to what was seen and said.
Into this mess and mix of life
Among these first time parents and
These shepherds too,
All folks without some agency in life
Our God has come and birthed his Son
For us and our salvation too
As sweet refrains of angels songs
Are heard within our hearts and minds
This night most holy and divine.
Receive this gift as grace and hope and life
These holy days and know
That God has come to dwell with us, within,
Without and for all time and even to eternity.
This Child of holiness is born for you and me
And we shall never be the same-
Can never be the same
For we've been touched by love so broad
And deep and wide that nothing in existence
Will remove us from this One who comes
To claim us as his own
And mark us with his cross
This holy night and all the nights ahead
Until he comes again.
Receive this Child.
Be touched by God and grace
And know that hope is born today.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE
As we near Christmas, I hold in my mind's eye an image of Mary and Joseph standing outside in the cold looking for a place to stay. They approached a motel and are informed that there was no room in the inn. The miracle happened anyway in the middle of more adverse circumstances. Jesus was born in a manger in a cave-a precarious and unstable place. In modern day parlance. we might call the place Jesus was born a hovel for the homeless. A shelter which lay in the shadow of a Motel 6 which stopped receiving housing vouchers from the state. The couple was visited by shepherds, who in those days, were low paid laborers without the best credentials, maybe undocumented, who were hired by landowners to take care of their sheep. Jesus, a Palestinian Jew, whose father was a carpenter, was visited by three magi from the East from what is today called modern day Iraq. They came bearing amazing gifts symbolizing the promise of God's abundance even in the most adverse circumstances.
In our time, where do find yourself in the story? What will you say? How will you act? As you hand out your next food card, deliver a turkey or warm socks, prepare a sermon, help a prisoner get ready to re-enter society, cradle a crying child, help an immigrant, or console a parishioner who lost their housing, please take a few minutes to make a permanent difference to bringing about a more just world for the poor and disenfranchised in our midst. Point to the miracle in all you do and say!
· For our community of faith as we seek to do God’s work in the world.
· For those in our congregation and community who suffer silently with illness, financial burdens, and family obligation.
· For victims of violence and their families in all places
· For Al Lamb, Elenor Burgeson Orman, Bob Samuelson, Arden Johnson, Ralph Prieur, Jill Scott, Bill Reel, Helen Cogliano, John Bylund, Joanne Aron, Pastor John Klatt, JoLynn Stearns, Scott Stearns, Zachary Frazier, Todd Reel, Maj-Britt Traynor, Gerald Ayers, Matt Isaacson, Sandra Kelderhouse, Thom Shagla,
· For people serving in the military and their families, those caught up in war who have no safe home in which to live.
· For all children, that the love of Christ may reach them through all of us who have resources to love, protect, pray and provide for them.