This was the Art UMC’s month to helping hand out food boxes at the Food Bank. We started on Monday and the last day of distribution is today from 3-5 pm. Thanks to the ever faithful that always come no matter what is going on or how bad the weather is. Let us consider making this a necessary event (bring a friend) and come at 2:30 today to help prepare the food boxes for distribution.
Many thanks to the Art/Castell UMWs ladies for inviting us to their Christmas meeting and luncheon yesterday at noon. The meal and the Chinese Gift Exchange were enjoyed by all. It was a real Christmas get-together.
Continue to pray for Stuart & Julia Jordan and mail Christmas cards to them early. Include a few extra cards as a special blessing to his deployed buddies. Mail to Stuart Jordan, 451 EMSG, 451 ELRS VO, APO, AE 09347.
Please bring your shoeboxes for Mexico, and your angel tree gifts next Sunday.
There will be a “Night of Hope” worship service on December 22nd at 5pm at Lutie Watkins UMC in Llano. This BLUE CHRISTMAS service is especially for those needing hope during these holidays.
It is time to unify as the body of Christ and build the much needed ramp in love and harmony. Jesus prayed that the love and unity among his believers would be what caused the lost to believe that God sent His Son. Jesus said: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one, as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you.” Who is in charge of this?
I am sorry that I missed your birthday, Joyce Mutschink, on Dec. 9th. Kenneth Kothmann is celebrating his birthday today, Dec. 11th and Logan Toone will party on Dec. 12th. Do it up right!
Rev. Krcha continues his Advent messages on the theme “Living in the Kingdom …”already, not yet’” Hear the Words of God from Isaiah 11:1-5: “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots; And he shall be at peace, and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the reverence of the Lord; And shall shine forth in the reverence of the Lord; and he shall not judge after that which his eyes see, neither reprove after that which his ears hear; But with justice shall he judge the poor, and reprove with uprightness for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his waist.” (Isaiah 11:1-5 from The Lamsa Translation)
Yes, the stump of David’s family will grow a new fruit bearing branch. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding and knowledge and the fear of the LORD. He will delight in obeying the LORD. He will not judge by appearance. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment.
Those words of God spoken through Isaiah, must have been comforting to God’s people after the Northern Kingdom was conquered by Assyria in 722 BC. Because those verses describe “justice”, and we like to see people get what they deserve. And it must have seemed like it was very unjust that the Northern Kingdom had been totally annihilated. It must have been terrifying to think that either Egypt or Syria might take over Judea. The people of Syria must have the very same fears, especially now, in the midst of civil war.
But that was not all Isaiah had to say that day to the people of God. The next words of God sounded equally wonderful: 6 In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. 7 The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. 8 The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. 9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
Do you believe that is possible? The oldest of enemies: wolf-lamb and leopard-goat and calf -lion lie down together. I tell you that what we would think not possible, is possible with God. Those beautiful words describe peace. Days of justice and peace. But the new possibilities rely on that “stump”, a little child. What a vision of Advent and newness and peace and justice.
So, here we are. One foot in Bethlehem, and one foot in the future. That’s Advent: “already, not yet”. As 21st century followers of Jesus, knowing that Jesus has promised to come again, what would we point to as a promise as we wait for the 2nd coming of Jesus? Could it be John 14 verses 12-14? Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. Good government is a blessing. But no one from the government will be at the food bank each time we open. No one from the government will pray with the least and the lost next week. And, equally important, no one from the government will be at the prayer room telling us we cannot worship God. We are invited, and allowed to be the heart of Jesus next week. We can pray with them AND help them fill out their application for SNAP, food stamps. Help them find a job. Both, and. I am not certain I could describe to you how the vision of justice, mercy, and grace become real on earth as it is in heaven.
David Brooks makes an important observation regarding Caesar: “Government can set the stage, but it can’t be the play. It is just too balky an instrument. As we’re seeing even with the Affordable Care Act implementation, government is good at check-writing, like Social Security, but it is not nimble in the face of complexity.” and I would add, not good with relationship.
Like John the Baptist, we stand with one foot in the arrival of Jesus on earth and one foot in the future. The first words from Jesus in the gospel of Mark are: “the time promised by God has arrived”. “We”, the church, we are the plan for the least, the lost, the hungry, the stranger. Sometimes, the future can seem just too complex and scary. Makes you want to hunker down. That’s dangerous, too. So my friends, I would tell you that “peace begins with me” and, on earth as it is in heaven, “begins with me” I wonder if we can use Isaiah 11 as a map to build a nursing home in Mason County. I would if old enemies can make peace with each other. I wonder if we can put away power and control and try love and forgiveness to build a nursing home in Mason. This is our prayer.