What a busy time of the year! Sure hope everyone is enjoying all the Christmas events, charitable opportunities, shopping and fellowship. The weather outside is not frightful; on the contrary, it’s very delightful in my opinion. Crisp and a little chilly………….ah, yes, that’s what I call perfect December weather! At least that’s the weather story at this Monday morning’s writing. Sounds like the next few days may be a might bit cold.
It is with great sadness that I report the unexpected passing of one of our beloved Art UMC members. Walter Head passed away last Friday, December 7th. It was just Sunday before last that Walter entertained the audience as one of the townsfolk and as the delightful and funny bartender in our church play “For Unto Y’all.” Please pray for Diana and the entire Head family during this time of tremendous loss.
We have just a few reminders for this week and next. Today, the Mason Outreach prayer group will meet at the Square Plate at 3:30pm and the Art/Trinity UMW will have their Christmas Luncheon and Program at Joann Coston’s home in Llano at noon. The Art Christmas Open House and Chinese Christmas will be on Saturday, December 15th, at 6:00pm in the Fellowship Hall and everyone is welcome. The Art UMC Christmas Dinner will be at noon on Sunday, December 16th in the Fellowship Hall followed by Children’s Christmas Songs. The shoeboxes for Mexico and the Angel Tree gifts need to be turned in by Sunday, December 16th.
Our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service will be at 6:00 p.m., Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24th.
Happy Birthday to Logan Toone on the 12th, Dakota Dyess on the 13th, Brook Fuqua Rosberg and Kyle Kettner on the 14th, Maria Mutis on the 15th, and Brad Kothmann on the 17th.
Happy Anniversary to Denis and Elizabeth Hoerster Cano. May God bless each and every one of you on your special day.
Last Sunday was the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Virginia Durst and Clara McInnis lit the second candle, the Angel’s Candle, on the Advent Wreath. This candle is also called the “peace” candle. Our Holy Scripture Readings included Malachi 3:1, Luke 1: 5-25 and 57-79. In his teaching sermon, Pastor Cliff taught, enlightened and reminded us of several important events during this adventus (Latin word for “coming”-the arrival of something important. Something so important and powerful that will completely change, for the better, our circumstances).
I sincerely hope my summary will do justice to his timely and important message.
As we all know, the people of God were in and out of captivity/slavery. In 538 BC, God rescued them and they finally returned to Israel, only to be conquered later by the Persians.
God spoke to the prophet Malachi around 400 BC. God told Malachi He would send His messenger (John the Baptist) and that messenger would prepare the way for Him. “The Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple.” “The Messenger of the covenant (the Messiah) whom you have been eagerly waiting for is coming,” said the Lord of hosts. We all know it took another four hundred years before these words were fulfilled. In about 140 BC the Hebrews became their own nation, only lasting for about 100 years only to succumb to the Romans.
So, the coming (Advent) of the messenger who would make way for the Messiah was their hope of freedom from the Roman government. Now, we fast forward 40 years, and now it has been 400 years since God spoke to Malachi. It is Advent in Jerusalem (Luke 1: 5-25) and we find Zachariah and Elisabeth, an elderly and childless couple. They were righteous and obedient in God’s eyes. Zachariah, a priest, was serving in the Temple offering incense in the sanctuary of the Lord. The crowd outside prayed and awaited blessings. While still in the sanctuary, Zachariah was shaken with fear as an angel of the Lord appeared to him. The angel told him not to be afraid and that God was going to answer his prayer in that his wife Elisabeth would have a son and that he was to name him John. The angel told him how this birth would bring great joy and gladness and how his son John would prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. Zachariah was skeptical, after all he and Elisabeth were very old! In Verses 19 & 20, the angel declares the he is the angel Gabriel and that it was God that sent him to bring this good news but since Zachariah did not believe, he would be silenced and unable to speak until the child is born. When Zachariah finally came out of the Temple, the people realized he had seen a vision as he motioned and was speechless. He left the Temple unable to bestow blessings to the people and unable to speak. Elisabeth did conceive and remained in seclusion for five months. She felt the Lord had looked favorably on her by taking away her barrenness.
We will save the story of the birth of Jesus for Christmas Eve, but for now we will revisit Elisabeth as she gives birth to her son. (Luke 1: 57-64) Everyone was happy and rejoiced that the Lord had shown mercy to her. Being true to the traditions of the time, when the child was to be circumcised, everyone knew he would be named Zachariah, after his father. When Elisabeth said, “No; he is to be called John”, they were surprised. Zachariah confirmed the name by writing “John” on a tablet. Immediately Zachariah’s speech was restored and he began praising God. In Verses 67-79, the prophecy of John’s ministry was spoken under the power of the Holy Spirit through Zachariah. His words are filled with references to redemption and salvation all through these verses and states that God’s covenant with Abraham was being fulfilled. He refers to how John will be the prophet to prepare the way for the Lord who will in turn deliver us from darkness and guide us to the path of peace. Peace to all