Pastor’s Ponderings

In the region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. Then an Angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; For I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and laying in a Manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angels a multitude of heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and earth, peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherd said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So, they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in a manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told to them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them (Luke 2: 8-20).

This month, we are getting ready to celebrate a birthday. And not just any birthday! We are preparing to celebrate the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, born so many years ago in a simple manger in Bethlehem. It is almost time for Christmas!

Christmas is a terribly busy season, and our calendars and activities reflect the Christmas Season. The month of December may be packed with family gatherings, parties, shopping for presents, decorating the church, our homes and baking for family, friends, and others. Christmas music is playing almost everywhere; when we visit a store, on many radio stations, and even in our homes. Christmas movies fill the television airwaves. We have put up our Christmas trees with their lights, placed a nativity scene in the prominent parts of our homes. Well, this is the busiest of times and all that we do helps brighten the holiday that is to come.

We know that Christmas is not just about giving and receiving gifts, listening to Christmas carols, or eating Christmas cookies or even going to the many different holiday gatherings that surround us. It is about preparing for the coming of Jesus into the world and into our hearts. It’s about celebrating the good news of God’s unending love for us!

We have entered the season of Advent, the season of the liturgical year where we prepare for and wait for Jesus’ coming with anticipation and joy. Scripture tells us and we remember all the events that preceded and prepared the way for the first “Coming of Jesus,” and we anticipate with hope and expectation His coming again in glory. May we all take time this Christmas season to contemplate the incredible gift God has given us in Jesus, the little baby in a manger who saved the world and who will return in glory someday. May each of us experience the joy and hope of this season and be filled with Jesus’ peace and love. And may we share the peace and love with the world as we proclaim the good news of the true meaning of Christmas.

I would like to take a moment to say thank you. I am so grateful for how the Claybanks United Methodist Church family has given so much this past year. Whether you are part of our mission activities and serving meals at the White Lake Gathering, volunteered your time at different agencies that help serve those who have special needs in our community, been a part of our different councils and committees here at Claybanks United Methodist Church, provided snacks after worship, help lead our worship service as liturgists or volunteered during our worship services to bring meaning to worship or participated in anyone of the countless other tasks that keep our church and community together as a light in the Claybanks community. I am grateful. Thank you so much for all you do!

Have a very merry and blessed Christmas.

Pastor Gary

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