We are in the Holiday season. Decorations are up and many families are in the middle of scheduling those family get togethers. Holidays can be a lot of joy but for some it is a hard time of firsts after the loss of an important people in their life. Know that you are not alone your church is here to walk with you and most important God is with you. Often people find participating in a Blue Christmas Celebration can help. While we do not have a special service here at Maple Grove there are a couple of services that might be of help to you. Those services are listed below.
Also knowing if you are having issues dealing with the Holiday, I am always willing to sit down with you and help you work through some of those issues. Feel free to call or text and we can set up some time to talk.
This is also the time to start considering our year end giving. Please don’t forget your church in your gifts at this season. If you qualify for a minimum distribution from your IRA’s or Retirement plans many times If you have them directly distributed to the church instead of putting them into your checking there are tax benefits to you. Please check with your tax pro but we are including fliers that are provided to us by the church with more specifics on this giving. At Maple Grove we are doing a Capital campaign to try to reduce our loan payments in the new year. Giving now helps us not to have so much debt. Please consider a year end Gift to the church. Any amount helps with this so that we can continue to expand our ministries of the church. Booneville can also use your gifts to pay for the many things that go into serving there as well.
Lastly, you are all invited to attend our Christmas Eve services at each church. We will have a joint service on 12/24/2023 at 10:30 am at Maple Grove UMC. All are welcome to attend this service. We also have Christmas Eve services at both churches. At Maple Grove the service will be at 5:00 P.M. We will have a candlelight service. At Booneville the service will be at 7:30 P.M. This service will also be a candlelight service. You are invited to attend one or all the services. The morning service will be different from the candlelight services. Come and celebrate the arrival of our King Jesus Christ. Please invite others to come. It is a great opportunity to invite family and friends to our churches.
May God bless you in this season. Remember to take time to celebrate the reason for the season and take care of yourself , family, and friends this season. It is a great way to introduce someone to our churches and help them understand the reason for the season as well.
Pastor Robbin Gallegos
How are you preparing for Christmas?
During Advent we prepare for the coming of Jesus to our world. We prepare for the coming of the baby that has been proclaimed by Isaiah that he was coming to be the one who was the Messiah that would save the world. From Isaiah 9: 6-7 it says :
6For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.(NIV)
The people of the time knew this scripture but as many times they did not know when this would happen. They knew something was going to happen but when. We have the advantage of knowing when Christmas is. We had indicated a given day and day to celebrate. We know from the New Testament that Jesus was born and his story but the people of the time did not have history to depend on except for the prophesies from their history. Christ had not yet come. They were waiting for his arrival. They did not know the ministry he would have. Much the same as we do not know when Christ will return as promised. When will he come back in all his glory. As a child I remember helping prepare for Christmas. I grew up in rural Iowa on a farm. My Grandparents were a product of the Great Depression. While they had a farm and grew much of what they consumed they did not have a lot of physical money but they always prepared for Christmas with traditions that had been passed down through their families. Living on the farm everything was used. As they harvested things, if something in the garden was not quite ripe at the time it was threatening to frost, we harvested it and put it in the cellar or basement to continue to mature. We canned and harvested nuts and other things and then made things from what we had harvested. Nothing was wasted. The string from the feed sacks was saved for use around the house. And things were washed and reused. If the tomatoes were not quite ripe, we would bring them in and put them on a board to ripen. We harvested sometimes as much as a half of acre of potatoes from the garden for all the families to use all winter. My grandmother knew that how fast the tomatoes ripened depending on how late the frost was, she hoped to have the last of the tomatoes to serve for Christmas meals. Oh, what a treat by that time. In the fall we ate as many tomatoes as we could fresh and canned lots of them so we were tired of eating tomatoes but by Christmas they were a treat. I still do this on a smaller scale and was reminded of this as this last week the tomatoes I had harvested green were ripening. Only a handful but they always taste better than the ones from the store and bring back the memory of preparing for Christmas in those days so long ago in my history. In a couple of weeks Grandma would be preparing to make some of the things for Christmas gatherings such as molasses cookies and sugar cookies that we decorated. We made fudge and taffy. She had a large family with 6 children so everything was done in large batches and then she would just before Christmas make home made bread and butter to go with it and cinnamon rolls made with fresh cream on them because they still had milk cows at that time. My Grandad would crack hickory nuts to put in the baking items that Grandma made and we would pick the nuts out of the shells. It was quite a production. Family was important but the story of Jesus birth was important and was shared with us as we did these things. Christmas was a celebration of all things good or our blessings from the years abundance no matter how little we had we celebrated what we had. Most of the gifts were made or were not very expensive. Grandad would buy ribbon candy and oranges for everyone. Something we did not get any other time. Family was the most important and praising God’s for providing for us what we had was important. Christmas programs for school and church were also important at that time. Tradition was steeped in those programs. All the kids participated as much as they could. Preparation was important.
The people of the Bible had been preparing for the coming of Jesus. It was a very different land and time than we have now. They had been watching for his arrival. Some felt threatened because they believed he would be a Military force taking over the world that they knew and kings and people in power felt their lively hood would be lost. Because of this belief Jesus life and the life of his parents was threatened once he was born. He came into the world in less than perfect conditions in a stable to a relatively poor family. He had to be moved so that they could stay safe because Harrod was afraid of this baby. And yet the people that came to celebrate his birth The shepherds and Kings had prepared the way for his family to be able to keep him safe bringing gifts to
the family of much value. The traditions of the time were important in celebrating the birth of a king. As we prepare, we need to celebrate the fact that through Jesus’ birth he prepared a way for us to live as Christians in the world and know that God has forgiven us and that we are loved and are celebrated as the family of God. Help us celebrate through traditions the things that are important to us in remembering that love. Jesus was born to show God’s Love for us. May God bless you all in your journey through
Advent to Christmas. Remember the important things in your traditions and bless you along the path. Know that you are loved by God and all who follow him as well.
With Christian Love,