Thanksgiving greetings to everyone !
Know that the Lord Himself is God ;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves ;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
This past Sunday I really enjoyed hearing, from my perch on the piano bench, the many things for which you are thankful. I’m sure we could have gone on for a long time sharing with each other (and showing each other !) all the things God has given us and done for us.
Thanks, too, for your good singing last Sunday. Samuel and Esther and I led worship services at the two local nursing homes Sunday afternoon, and I was surprised at how good the singing was everywhere that day ! An attitude of thankfulness lifts our spirits, our expressions, and even our voices. I hope we will carry that attitude around with us for a long time – through the holidays and well into the new year !
Here are a couple of Thanksgiving jokes to share with your family this week :
Where does Superman go to buy his Thanksgiving feast ? (Think about it ; you’ll get it.)
Which weighs more : a pound of turkey or a pound of cranberries ? (Hello !!!!)
While you’re pondering the answers to those difficult questions, let me share a few things with you about the upcoming Christmas season at Emmanuel :
Christmas at Emmanuel
In addition to some great December study and fellowship going on in youth groups and Sticky Groups, please make note of the following special activities for the whole family. Lord willing, there will be extended family members and friends you can invite to join us.
The reasons for doing some things in a special way at Christmas are numerous :
to invite us to reflect on the meaning of God visiting our planet as a person, … Jesus
to offer us opportunities for expressing thanks all together for the miraculous gift of eternal life
to hear the Gospel message and to share it with friends who may be more open spiritually at this time of year than at any other
to worship – just as the shepherds, wise men, and angels did so long ago
to receive instruction from God’s Word and spiritual renewal during a season of the year that may be mostly characterized by worldliness … or, in some cases, emotional or spiritual struggle.
Here’s what I hope you’ll be looking forward to !
Special Sunday Worship Services
Each Sunday, from December 1 through January 5, there will be special Christmas music presented by various vocal ensembles from the church family.
On December 22, our children’s choir will lead the congregation in a special time of Christmas worship.
Our sermons for December 15, 22, 29, and January 5 will be on the theme of “Four Looks at the Life of Christ.”
On each of those Sundays we will take a look at one of the four gospel books in our Bible – Matthew (12/15), Mark (12/22), Luke (12/29), and John (1/5).
Why did each of those writers write what they did about the Lord ?
What is the unique theme and message of each book ?
While similar, each one gives us a slightly different look at the person of Jesus, the Christ – four perspectives on the life of the One whose birthday we are celebrating. What does each tell us about Jesus ?
A Unique Christmas Eve Experience
On Tuesday, December 24, we will have a special Christmas Eve Celebration of the Life of Christ.
Our intention is to honor the Lord by spending time focusing on His life on earth. Will you plan on joining us … and plan on participating ?
During the course of that day, we will read through the entire Gospel of Luke – the story of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It will be a time of reflection and worship, and we would like you to be one of the readers for those in attendance. Luke’s gospel will be divided up into three sections and read at the following three times that day :
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. (Luke, chapters 1-8)
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Luke 9-16)
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. (Luke 17-24)
I believe you and your family will be blessed by hearing the Lord’s story read aloud, then taking what sinks into your spirit with you into the remainder of your holiday activities.
Each of the three time segments will begin with a short time of singing ; cider and cookies will be a part of the day. In fact, the church will be open all day long in a kind of open-house atmosphere for you to connect with people, pray with someone, or find a place to be quiet.
There will be sign-ups at the church starting this Sunday so you can choose a portion of Luke’s gospel to read out loud (a chapter, part of a chapter, or more than one chapter). Please sign up and begin practicing reading your portion of the Scripture. You will be blessed as you practice, and you will be blessed by presenting it to others on the 24th. All ages who can read in a good, clear voice are invited to sign up !
Plan on coming for one or more of the sessions on Christmas Eve to hear the story and honor the life of the One we celebrate at Christmas !
A few more quick reminders :
Congregational meeting, December 8, after worship. There will be a short meeting immediately after the worship service on Sunday, December 8, to vote on the 2014 church budget. If you are a voting member of the church, we need your participation in this decision. Everyone is welcome to stay for the meeting.
Discovering Spiritual Maturity 201 : Our adult 201 course will not meet this Sunday, December 1, but we will meet for one more session on December 8 at 9:00 a.m. Thank you !
Discovering Christ and Your Church Family 101 : We will offer the 101 course again in January, beginning on Sunday, January 5th. The theme of this course is “belonging” and church membership. If you are curious about membership at Emmanuel – or if you missed this course in September – please plan on joining us January 5. If you could let me know of your intention to attend, that would help me out a lot !
Staff Meeting, January 12 : Ministry team leaders, we need your presence at this meeting, immediately following worship on January 12. This will be an important planning and prayer session for the winter/spring semester at Emmanuel. Your participation will be extremely valuable. Please mark your calendar. Thanks !!
God bless you this week. Let’s keep looking up ! The Lord who came at Christmas is coming again !