Sharing with Steve
It is hard to believe that Christmas is almost here. Phyllis and I have just returned from a stay in Lakeland, Florida, with our daughter and her family where they live. All along the trip we saw signs of the upcoming holiday. Cities and towns have already put up Christmas decorations. Lakeland has a giant Christmas tree by a downtown lake that reveals a light and music show. As we drove down our neighborhood street after driving 1200 miles we saw houses with lights and decorations. (Note: It appears easier to set out lights in Florida where it is warmer and houses appear to be lower to the ground. Just saying.) Christmas is in the air. Most of my e-mails now are concerned with sales for just about every item that you can think of. And I am encouraged to hurry up and take advantage of the sale because it won’t last long. I am told that the sale has been extended, but no one knows for how long. Advertisers try to convince me that I need something that I had never even thought about. And it will obviously make my life better. It is easy to forget what Christmas is all about.
This has been the year of The Story. We have traveled from Genesis to Revelation and have seen how God’s plan has unfolded. Christmas marks the main intercession point in God’s story. I had a professor who explained that the Bible was salvation history. Everything in the Bible is focused on that one point. There may be a few chapters that deviate from that, but the Bible always returns to that main point. We see man sinning and God making a declaration that at some point there will be an intervention where Satan will be crushed. We follow one son of Adam and that leads us to Noah. Noah and his three sons are saved and we follow one son that leads us to Abraham. His family is followed and a nation is formed, the Hebrews. We see God delivering them from slavery in Egypt and the nation of Israel is formed. We follow the ups and downs as people rebel against God and then come running back. We see veiled promises that something will happen. We see God allowing His people to be taken into captivity and then restoring them. That is followed by 400 years of silence.
And then God intervenes in a mighty way. Jesus is born. Immanuel, God with us, has come. The greatest intercession in history takes place with a poor young couple in a stable. Shepherds visit soon after the birth. Foreigners come and bring gifts. And the world misses it. Jesus grows up and preaches a message of love and forgiveness. Jesus demonstrated that love by dying on the cross. And then God works the greatest miracle: He raised Jesus from the dead to live forevermore. Death and Satan have been defeated. The second part of that miracle is that we can share in that new life. We see the Church, the means by which this message is to be shared and experienced. We continued our journey and we were given guidelines as to how we are to live. We saw the Church being triumphant and Christ at her head.
That is what Christmas heralds. It is the dawning of a new age. God has stepped down and became a man. History is changed. Mankind now has hope and can experience true joy. As we celebrate Christmas, remember to celebrate its true meaning.
December is one of my favorite months of the year. Even though it has the potential to be one of the busiest, it also holds a lot of good memories.
Every year, since I was very little, my family has celebrated Advent. No, we aren’t Catholic, there wasn’t some ulterior motive, my mother simply realized that we would need a way to prepare ourselves for Christmas.
That’s why I celebrate Advent almost every year.
I don’t always have a wreath, I don’t always have candles, but I know, as the weeks count down closer and closer, I can remember the core of Christmas.
And Christ himself.
Not so incidentally, Advent is our theme for the youth during December from the toddler class up through high school, we are going through these ideas one by one and how they tie in with the Christmas story.
Another thing I always enjoy is looking at the past and looking toward the future. On Christmas Eve, when my family has gathered, the little kids are asleep, and my parents have set out presents and gone to bed, my siblings and I will sit up and swap stories. Some years are better than others, some stories get told more than others, but all of us get to enjoy being with each other and look toward what’s on the horizon.
This December, I’m looking forward to January, when I will be starting Orange Curriculum with my church family, but I don’t simply want to print different lessons, I want to make it all inclusive.
If you are looking for a way to get involved, consider talking to me or emailing me about it. I will be posting specific job descriptions soon with places for everyone, from greeters to game players, teachers, singers, actors, even people who are just there to corral kids and make sure we don’t have any wanderers. This could be a way for all of us to come together as a church and tell our stories to our kids, show them our faith instead of trying to dictate what theirs should be.
Take a second and think back. What are you thankful for and what is driving you into next year with a smile on your face?
See what’s happening this month . . . . . . . . . .
The annual Adult Christmas Party will be held on Saturday, December 10, at 6 pm in the Fellowship Hall. There is a sign-up sheet in the foyer. We do need more appetizers than we do desserts. Everyone is to bring a white elephant gift to exchange. We will, again, be singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Plan now to attend this fun time of food and cheer.
On Sunday, December 18, we will be having a Christmas Breakfast during the regular Sunday School hour at 9:30 a.m. The morning service will start at the regular time, 10:45 a.m. Everyone has that special breakfast recipe that they enjoy with their families. Well bring that dish to share with your church family! Whether it’s French Toast casserole, egg casserole, hash brown casserole, biscuits and sausage gravy or maybe a fancy breakfast bread, whatever it is – let’s enjoy it together!! You don’t have a favorite recipe? No problem, bring ready to serve fully cooked bacon or sausage. There’s fresh fruit or juice, and as always sweet rolls, donuts or coffee cakes to add to the menu. Please bring everything fully prepared, ready to serve. A sign-up sheet is posted in the foyer to indicate if you’re attending and what you plan to bring. If you have a question please ask Phyllis Martin.
We will be meeting to go Christmas caroling on Sunday evening, December 18, at 4:45 pm in the foyer. We will be visiting members of Meadowbrook. There will be a sign-up sheet in the foyer. After the singing we will return to the church building for a light supper. This is a great time for sharing the joy of Christmas. Plan to join us. Everyone is welcome.
This special annual candlelight service will take place on Saturday, December 24, at 6 pm. We will gather in the auditorium to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Through word and song we will remember that night so long ago. We will share together in the Lord’s Supper and then close with the lighting of the candles as we sing Silent Night.
We will be having a Sunday morning service on Christmas Day, but we will be meeting earlier than normal. There will be no Sunday School that day. We will have our morning worship service at 9:30am. This will allow our families to have more time in the day to spend together. Come celebrate the birth of Christ with your church family and then enjoy the rest of the day with your extended family.
2017 calendars are now available on the table in the foyer. These calendars are provided by several local businesses and are free for you to take. They do contain information specific to Meadowbrook.
125 Meals served at the Community Kitchen Dinner
Fifteen Meadowbrook volunteers served meals to 72 diners and prepared meal packages for 54 people in October through the Community Kitchen Dinner at the Rochester Community House. In addition, $400 was collected from our church family that paid for the food. It was a heart-warming day to interact with those in need and share their joy as they enjoyed a delicious hot meal.
Operation Christmas Child a Success
Due to the generosity of the congregation of Meadowbrook Christian Church over 100 children in multiple countries around the world will be the recipients of Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. Pastors around the world will distribute these shoe boxes in places where people may not know Christ. After receiving a shoe box gift, children have the opportunity to enroll in “The Greatest Journey”, a dynamic 12-lesson Bible study course guiding them through what it means to faithfully follow Jesus Christ. Please pray that the children who receive the shoe boxes will accept Christ and will share the Gospel with family and friends. The amazing journey of a simple shoe box gift that began with individual members of our church has the potential to result in evangelism, discipleship and multiplication of the Church around the world.
Lots of food donated to Lighthouse
Bags and bags of food was collected in November to benefit the Lighthouse of Oakland County that was distributed to the needy in our community.
Thank you to all who helped share their time and donations!
From the Pew
By Art Drake
God Knows Us Best
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.
Romans 1:21-22 NLT
Who knows better than the creator how their creation functions. In the same way our Creator knows how we function and what is best for us. His Word that He has provided for us is a guidebook for living the best life and functioning as our Creator intended.
Our Creator intended us to worship Him, to have fellowship with Him, and to trust and rely on Him for everything. When we live this way we open the door to His provision and protection. Psalm 84:11 NLT says, “…The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right”.
One thing I have learned is God does not withhold His blessing as only punishment, but to encourage us to live a certain way because our Creator knows that’s how we function best. God desires us to live a life of peace and abundance. Where we go wrong is to start doing things our own way instead of God’s way. We drift into worldly desires and interests and we lose our way.
I can personally attest that when I start doing things my way I become uneasy, anxious, and even start to feel ill. When I realize what I am doing and repent and ask for God’s forgiveness, I am immediately enveloped in a feeling of peace and comfort. That was God’s gentle reminder that I needed to get back on track for my own good.
Later in the first chapter of Romans, Paul describes what happens when we refuse to acknowledge God. Verse 29 and 30 says, “Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents”.
When I observe our culture today I must admit I see the same things Paul described. I see extreme impatience, selflessness, rudeness, jealously, and outbursts of anger. As people turn from God, believing they are wise, they accept and excuse any behavior as long as it fits into their idea of what is correct. We do not observe the Sabbath anymore, instead turning it into another day to seek pleasure for ourselves.
We are paying the price for this. We live in a society that knows no peace. We see it all around us. I am amazed how people need anti-anxiety medications just to get through the day. We have a heroin epidemic that is killing hundreds of people who became addicted to prescription medications and how have turned to heroin when the medical profession cracked down on prescription pain relievers.
That is exactly what people are experiencing – pain. The pain of being cut off from a loving God and a refusal to repent and acknowledge Him and live for Him. I believe God is there pleading for us to return to Him so we can experience the abundance He has prepared for us. All we need to do is live the way our Creator intended and we can find peace and contentment once again.
In the next few articles I will share some of the things I’ve discovered in my walk that resulted in my drawing closer to God and experiencing His supernatural peace and abundance. Till then have a Merry Christmas and remember He is the reason for the season.
Karen Parrett – December 4
Louis Krupa – December 15
Brad Koster – December 16
Ed & Karen Parrett (Anniv.) – December 21
Karen Robinson – December 21
Darrell & Jean Cox (Anniv.) – December 22
Ariana Hippensteel – December 23
Brandy Cox – December 23
Ken Bennett – December 24
Cindy Gerstenlauer – December 25
Jason Hippensteel – December 25
Matt & Brenda Cox (Anniv.) – December 27
Jerri Gilbert – December 29
Jean Cox – December 30