Pastor’s Ponderings

Looking To Find Grace

Almost all of 2020 is behind us and in just a few days a new year will begin- 2021. 2020 has had its long shadows which at times have been difficult to overcome. Early in 2020 we began to hear the term “Covid-19” and we did not fully understand how it was going to affect our lives so dramatically and take so quickly the earthly lives of so many. Covid-19 created much sickness for so many and lingering effects on health which are still being measured and sought out. Our daily routines have been affected and adjustments have been made. As our life continued on with many alterations we still feel the many obligations that must be satisfied and standing on the sidelines at times has been very difficult. Many in our community, country and around the world have felt the losses of lives near them, loss of employment, and the struggles of putting food on the table, paying the rent or mortgages and the utility bills. Our social life has changed dramatically as we only gather in small groups, social and family pods, wear face coverings, keep a social distance and practice many other health-related activities to protect our families, loved ones, friends and our community. We interact in new ways such as in Zoom meetings and Facetime. We spend much more time with our phones in conversation, checking our messages, working with email and spending more time in Facebook than ever before. While all these possibilities for interaction have allowed us to stay in touch with each other, we miss the personal direct human contact that we have experienced throughout our lives which now has become very limiting.

It is possible that the absence of these things has limited the inertia that we bring to a new year and may be sweeping away the excitement we have when a new year approaches as it does beginning in January of every year. Let us not forget what Scripture tells us – that “God’s grace is sufficient” and that is essential in our lives. God’s grace is transformative in the renovation of our hearts and minds as we look to fulfill the expectations of a new year. We know as followers of Jesus Christ that He will never leave us alone or forsake us. Let us not dwell so much on what we have lost during 2020 but look at how 2021 can move us to the better places for our lives. May we learn to respect and appreciate life lived more fully, appreciating the small things that we see and do, thanking God for what has been provided to us by recognizing that God’s grace was sufficient to get us through this past year and we will experience the abundant sufficiency of God’s grace in 2021. Yes, we all know life will be different as we go forward.

Our families may be somewhat different, for sure our gathering in church worship as we enter a new year will be different for a period of time, other activities will still need to be adjusted. Yet, it is through the love that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ that we recognize the grace that Jesus will provide us is more than enough grace for the living of our lives more fully in the upcoming year.
Blessings and stay safe until we can gather together once more safely in community and let’s stay in contact with each other. Happy New Year!

Pastor Gary

Announcements and Stuff

Thank You

Suzanne, Reba and I want to thank you for the gifts and cards we have received from you during this Holiday Season. May the joy we share with each other be a lasting greeting of love for all to appreciate and remember.

Pastor Gary

Scriptures on Hope

Fill in the Blanks! (self-correcting quiz!)

Job 13:15
Though he _ me, yet will I ___ in him: but I will maintain mine own ____ before him.

Proverbs24:20
For there shall be no reward to the ____ man; the candle of the ____ shall be put out.

Romans 8:24-25
For we are saved by ___: but hope that is not seen is not ___: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with _ wait for it.

1 Corinthians 15:19
If in this ___ only we have hope in ____, we are of all men most _____.

Hebrews 11:1
Now __ is the substance of things ____ for, the evidence of ____ not seen.

1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the _______and Father of our Lord Jesus _____, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the _____ of Jesus Christ from the _.

1 Thessalonians 5:8
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a ______, and the hope of salvation as a _.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
BY ROBERT FROST

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep

New Year’s Traditions and Celebrations

In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1. Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, round out the feast in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere. In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.
https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/new-years

Prayer To Begin The New Year

Lord, grant me a joyful heart and a holy sense of humor. Please give me the gift of faith to be renewed and shared with others each day. Teach me to live this moment only, looking neither to the past with regret, not to the future with apprehension. Let love be my aim and my life a prayer.


Upcoming Worship Schedule

January 3, 2021
Isaiah 60:1-6 / Matthew2:1-12
We Have Visitors

January 10, 2021
Psalm 29 / Mark 1:4-11
Saint John the Baptist

January 17, 2021
1 Samuel 3:1-10 & 11-20 / John 1:43-51
Here I Am, Lord

January 24, 2021
Jonah 1:1-3:10 / Psalm 62:5-12
Jonah, A Reluctant Servant Of God

January 31, 2021
Deuteronomy 18:15-20 / 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
False Prophets and False Gods

Christmas Eve Service

Christmas Eve Candle Light Service
Thursday December 24, 2020
6:00 pm Outdoors 

We are inviting our Claybanks United Methodist Church Family to a special and unique blessing as we gather outdoor on Christmas Eve. Our church will be decorated outside to recognize our worship celebration.

The service will be offered in our traditional Christmas Eve fashion with singing, Scripture readings, lighting of our Advent Wreath Candles, meditational thoughts and candle lighting (electric candles provided) with the singing of “Silent Night” to conclude our worship time together.

We will be gather and remain in our autos. You will be able to participate in our service by tuning your auto radio to 103.9 FM. Bulletins with responsive readings and Carols will be provided. We will have an offering plate available, ushers to guide us in parking and other special needs for this unique worship service.

We look forward to seeing you and our extended family on Christmas Eve! 

i

Pastor’s Message

I’m sorry to say that we most likely will not be able to return to indoor in person worship in the near future. The Claybanks United Methodist Church and the Michigan Area United Methodist Conference are being diligent in meeting the recommendations set forth by our state and county health department. It has been and will be difficult for us to not meet together in worship and participate in other activities that we as a church family Have been blessed to be able to do together.

Sunday, November 29th is the beginning of the Advent season. To prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior on Christmas we light Advent candles, read scripture and join in meditations of Advent. These practices are important to us as Christians to be ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Preparation is important and so that you might be able to prepare I would like to have you participate in Advent by making a home Advent Wreath with candles and engaging in Advent readings, meditation and prayer. To do so please make a special place in your home where you can celebrate Advent.

Find a location in your home where you can place an Advent Wreath.
Get some fresh boughs from your yard or use some from your holiday decorations. Place them in a circle. Place four tea candles or other candles in a circle within the wreath. Place one candle in the middle. If colored candles are available, three of the outside ones should be one color (purple) and the fourth (pink or rose) and the center candle white. On each Sunday of Advent light one candle for each week as we progress through Advent with the center fifth candle to be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning. For our Advent practice use these Advent readings including Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. First light one or more of the candles depending on the number of weeks into Advent. Read the Scripture provided. I would suggest maybe one scripture each day. Read the response and meditation followed by prayer for each of the Advent Sundays or days during the week and Christmas. Following with a time of quiet and reflection

Please be sure for safety to extinguish the Advent wreath candles. Know that many of our Claybanks United Methodist Church Family are joining you as we honor the Advent season.

Week One – Sunday November 29th

Hope
Isaiah 64:1 – 9, Psalm 80:1 – 7, 17 – 19, 1 Corinthians 1:3 – 9, Mark 13:24 – 38
In God there is always hope that a new reality might be created. May God’s hope for the world become our hope as well.
Meditation followed by prayer

Week Two – Sunday, December 6th

Peace
Isaiah 40:1, Psalm 85:1 – 3, 8 – 13, 2 Peter 3:8 – 15, Mark 1:1 – 8
God’s vision for the world is one in which all creation is at peace. May this vision guide our lives as well.
Meditation followed by prayer

Week Three – Sunday, December 13th

Joy
Isaiah 61:1 – 4, 8 – 11, Psalm 126, Luke 1:46 – 55, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 24, John 1:6 – 8, 19 – 28
We anticipate with joy God’s presence breaking into our world each day, as it did long ago.
Meditation followed by prayer

Week Four – Sunday, December 20th

Love
2 Samuel 7:1 – 11, 16, Luke 1:46 – 55, Psalm 86:1 – 4, 19 – 26, Romans 16:25 – 27, Luke 1:26 – 38
As we journey into the last week of Advent, we prepare our hearts to receive God’s love made incarnate in the birth of Christ. Let us be inspired by the traditional words of, “O come, O come, Emmanuel”. Meditation followed by prayer.

Christmas Eve or Christmas Day December 24th – 25th
Isaiah 9:2 – 7, Psalm 96, Titus 2:11 – 14, Luke 2:1 – 14, 15 – 20
Today we recognize the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we continue to express our longing, and may our reflections and prayers prepare our hearts for Christ coming. May you and your loved ones experience the fullness of Christ’s presence this Christmas season and God’s peace in your heart as you enter the New Year.

Additional Advent Activity
Cut paper strips (Colored if available) you choose the size. Print on each strip one of these Advent words: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Each day in Advent attach one of the strips to extend your chain making an Advent Chain hanging in a prominent place in your home. Maybe on each chain link, write a word that best reflect your meditation from your Advent Scripture reading of the day.

It is the prayer of Reba and myself that in this most unusual year of 2020 that we are able to recognize the blessings that God has given us and that we are able to use the blessings that God has in store for us in 2021 in our lives as we continue to make Disciples for Jesus Christ.
Be safe and stay well!
Pastor Gary

Announcements and Stuff

Covid 19 Update
The Claybanks United Methodist Church in order to keep our church family safe suspended the in-person meeting of worship and other church activities for December. Based on the continuing surge of Covid 19 infections in our community we will not be able to gather together until the alert level in our community is reduced. Your church leadership will continue to monitor and communicate with you the plans for our church family. Please keep each other in prayer. Continue to use whatever media you feel most comfortable with as you continue to stay in touch and support each other. Please also remember that your financial support is needed to continue meeting the financial obligations of the church that are ongoing.

UMW
The UMW would like to thank everyone who ordered from the RADA company during the month of October. From your orders, our ladies group made a profit of $178.00. We will try to make this an annual event. Thank You!!

Quotable Quotes

Use what talents you possess;
The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
Henry Van Dyke

There is not surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved;
It is the finger of God on a man’s shoulder.
Charles Morgan

Do not worry about what people are thinking about you – for they are not thinking about you. They are wondering what you are thinking about them!
Anonymous

I regret often that I have spoken; never that I have been silent.
Syrun

Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.
Rev. Jesse Jackson

Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.
Will Rogers

Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. And when we are right, make us easy to live with.
Rev. Peter Marshall

Adversity introduces a man to himself.
Anonymous

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.
Victor Hugo

When a man has quietly made up his mind that there is nothing he cannot endure, his fears leave him.
Grove Patterson

Never argue at the dinner table, for the one who is not hungry always gets the best of the argument.
Whatley

Don’t tell me that worry doesn’t do any good. I know better. The things I worry about don’t happen!
The Watchman-Examiner

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt

The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments.
Gustave Flaubert

It is a glorious thing to know that your Father God makes no mistakes in directing or permitting that which crosses the path of your life. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter.
It is our glory to trust Him, no matter what.
Joni Eareckson Tada

Be kind. Remember everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
T.H. Thompson

A Gift for the Soul

Written by
Mother Teresa

People are often un-
reasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse
you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people
may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be
enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Upcoming Worship Schedule

December 6, 2020
Communion Sunday
2nd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-11 / Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-23
Christmas at Matthew’s House

December 13, 2020
3rd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 / Luke 2:1-14
Christmas at Luke’s House

December 20, 2020
4th Sunday of Advent
Psalm 96 / John 1:1-5, 14
Christmas at John’s House

December 24, 2020
Luke 1:26-56, 67-80 / Luke 2:1-20
Christmas Eve
Candle Light Service

December 27, 2020
Christmas Season
Musical
Psalm 148 / Galatians 4:4-7 / Luke 2:22-40
Simeon Followed God’s Spirit