The Gathering PASTORS’ PEN
Recently on a Sunday morning, as I stood at the exit of the sanctuary and greeted the many families of the church as they left the morning worship, one of our young families appeared. As they approached, a wonderful gift was about to come my way. Their young child literally jumped out of his mother’s arms and lunged for me. As he did his arms reached out for my neck and he wrapped them tightly around me, as if to plea for me to “love on him.” Well, what was I to do…? I loved on him! And as I did he held me close, giving me a “big squeeze” and then all of a sudden he tilted his head back to give me a wet salty kiss. When his mother said “Ok, time to go,” and reached for him…he wouldn’t leave me…she had to literally pry him off of me to get him to go with her. Oh, the joy and purity of a child’s Love! No wonder God sent Himself as a baby! Christmas is not a holiday…It is the purity and power of our God’s love for us in a Baby…Jesus. That our God would love us so much, like a child… in spite of our imperfections; desire to have us close to Himself always, like a child… that nothing in all this world could keep Him from loving us and wanting us near Him or pry us from His loving arms! Oh, yes Christmas is God’s Love, in all of its purity and strength, being given to us in the birth of our Blessed Jesus Christ! “Oh, how He loves you and me!” Yes, a Child’s Love… “for God so loved the world (you and me) that He sent His Son,” a baby’s love…a gift given for each of us who so desperately need His Love and Grace. God’s love rains down on us daily in His Son’s birth. Christmas is a Baby…Christmas is God’s perfect love come down from Heaven…Christmas is Jesus…Christmas is a message to us that in all things there is Hope…Christmas is a Cross of Forgiveness…Christmas is a promise that God can make all things New Again with 2nd chances…Christmas is not found under a tree, but found in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father that will always hold us close to Himself. How do we respond to God’s love for us? Let me make some suggestions: If you know someone who has lost a loved one this past year, make a visit with them or invite them to join you (better yet go pick them up) in your home…let them know that they are not alone…love on them! If you know someone who is struggling with the stresses and the struggles in life and they cannot seem to see the light of day, go to them and offer them God’s Hope with your words of encouragement and then your physical assistance, for two or three are much stronger than one who feels all alone in his or her struggles…love on them! If you know someone who has wronged you, failed in some way, or fallen, go to them and offer them forgiveness, restore them gently with kindness and stand beside them as they together with your encouragement start over…love on them! “These three things remain: faith, hope, and love…but the greatest of these is love.” Merry Christmas…May God’s Love be born afresh in you now and forever more! Pastors Ed & Brenda
COMING EVENTS OPEN HOUSE Pastors Ed and Brenda Fritz are inviting everyone to attend a Christmas Open House at the parsonage on Sunday, December 11, from 3:00-7:00 p.m. Come and enjoy food and fellowship!
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES We will be holding our annual Christmas Eve Services on Saturday, December 24. The services will be at 7:00 p.m. at the Life Center, and 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. downtown. Everyone is welcome.
PRESCHOOL CHRISTMAS PROGRAM Our FUMC preschool children will be giving a Christmas program in the downtown sanctuary on Sunday, December 18, at 2:00 p.m. They will be presenting a Christmas musical. A reception will follow in the gym. Everyone is invited!
The Primetimers will be going to a carry-in dinner and Crimsonaires Concert at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church on Friday, December 2, 2011. Bring a generous dish to share; ham and drinks and table service will be provided. The Crimsonaires will eat with us, then present the program.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING The TGIW children’s classes will go caroling on Wednesday, December 14, during the adult classes. They will be singing Christmas carols at the various health care nursing homes. More details will be coming later.
The bus will pick up at Greencroft at 11:00 a.m. All others will drive to St. Mark’s on their own. We need to be there at 11:30 a.m. If you have questions, please call Bob Morris at 534-2791.
YOUTH SHOPPING The youth group will be going Christmas shopping on Saturday, December 10, from 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. at the mall in Kalamazoo. On Friday night, December 9, the youth group will have a Christmas party at the Life Center at 7:00 p.m. Everyone should bring Christmas cookies or candy. Come and enjoy!
POINSETTIAS This year we will again be ordering Christmas poinsettias for our Christmas church services. If you would like to order a red or white poinsettia in honor of or in memory of a loved one, please fill out the information on the bulletin insert. The price is $13.99 for a red or white poinsettia. You may take it home with you after the Christmas Eve services. Please indicate which church site you would like to have it placed at. The last day to order is December 4, 2011.
GIFT MINISTRY INSTRUCTIONS There are two types of ornaments offered (each ornament represents a family or child) on the Christmas tree: The first type is for a $25.00 Grocery Gift Certificate or a $25.00 Gas Card (store or station of your choice). NOTE: Gift Certificates are good only on food whereas Gift Cards are good on anything. The second type is a request for one toy/gift and two articles of clothing and shoes/books (toy/gift idea, favorite color and clothing and shoe size is provided). -Remove the ornament of your choice (this will double as a gift tag. -Complete the list on the table with your name and phone number next to the corresponding alphabet listed on the ornament. -Please return your gifts by Sunday, December 11th. Toys and clothing should be wrapped and gift cards placed in an envelope. Please place the ornament on the wrapped gift or envelope.
OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE TO MISSIONS For the month of January, the missions pink giving envelopes go toward Goshen Interfaith Hospitality Network. Our church assists with this program four times throughout the year. We provide the supper and breakfast meals, so the pink giving envelopes go toward this effort.
BIRTHDAY FLOWERS As many of you are aware, for many years we have enjoyed delivering birthday flowers to those in our congregation who are 70 and older. It has been a chance to connect and express love and joy with persons in their special month. In assessing this ministry, we now think 80 should be the age we begi n t hi s jo yful endeavor. So….beginning in January 2012, those 80 and older will be receiving a birthday flower. -Betty Huffman, Flower Coordinator and Pam Kling, Caring Ministries
CHRISTMAS CANTATA Is Christmas just about decorations and gifts or is there something more? Drawing from one of the most popular carols of all time, this year’s Christmas Cantata takes a look at the perspective of some of the characters involved in the first Christmas and helps us see, hear, and know this timeless story on a deeper level. “Do You See What I See?” will be presented at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 11, at the downtown campus. Everyone is welcome.
SUNDAY CD’S We want everyone with computers to know that you can listen to the Sunday morning messages on our website, www.goshenfirstumc.org by going to Messages and clicking on the location and date of the service in which you are interested. We still offer the CD ministry of worship services, which can be picked up at the church or delivered to your home. Isn’t modern technology wonderful? -Pam Kling
First United Methodist Church 214 S. Fifth Street Goshen, IN 46528 Phone: 533-9518 www.goshenfirstumc.org www.goshenlifecenter.org
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“Thanks to the church family for the carnations on our birthdays, and to Lois and John Fidler for delivering them.” -John & Cleta Rieth “Thanks for the carnations delivered by Lenette Burckhart. We had a nice get-acquainted visit with Lenette. Also, thanks to all the congregation for their prayers and cards during my (Frances) recent surgery. Our continued thanks to Pastors Ed and Brenda for their care and concern.” -Charlie & Frances Sloan “I appreciate being remembered by my church family, especially on my birthday! Thank you!” -Marion Ketcham “We would like to express our deepest thanks for the outpouring of love, cards, and prayers from our church family. You have surrounded our family at this time of need and for that we are truly blessed. Also, a special thank you to Jo Snyder for the beautiful prayer shawl. It blesses us and assures us of God’s eternal love.” -The Weddle Family “This church has a great birthday outreach for us older members. I thank you for your caring and support as it means so much at this time in my life. Thank all of you for a wonderful birthday. You are special people.” -Imogene Blosser “To River Oaks, City Church, and First United Methodist Church—Dinner Hosts, Evening Hosts, Overnight Hosts for Goshen Interfaith Hospitality Network. It was great to get to know all of you at a deeper level. The food was great. Crafts were awesome and the great company was so nice. The sharing of stories and the wonderful feeling of making us part of the Goshen community—soon to be our new hometown. Thank you for all the prayers and support this past week. From one friend to another.” -The Springers
HAPPY DECEMBER BIRTHDAYS! December 1 Julie Long Zoe Dillman December 2 Sue Ogle December 3 Marie Whirledge Sandy Carbone December 4 Gary Graber Tom Nowak Kelley Leeper December 5 Dale Briggs Kris Groves Amber Krebs Pat Huber December 6 Phyllis Hall Bob Wilson December 7 Kevin Silcox Don Riegsecker Brock Bender Wesley Middaugh December 8 Gladys Bickel Steve Kuiper Linda Russell Ray Swanson Holly Nater December 9 Lavern Myers December 10 Judy Woldruff Marla Cook Steve Schwinn
December 11 Dan Becker Kate Woldruff Kerri Hoffman December 12 Jack Hubbard Indica Griffee December 13 Mary Ann Eash Cami Brandau Brian Swallow December 14 Patty Krebs Dick Snyder Nancy Eggers Sawyer Yoder Steve Plank Mark Howar Darren Griffith Emily York December 15 John Fowler Jordan Payne December 16 Katie Karnes Harrison McCrory December 17 Cassi Cook Betty Lambright December 18 Sheri Bushong Ryan Miller December 19 Pam Lichty Jeff Weddle Zachary Swallow December 20 Tom Smith
December 21 Paul Webb December 22 Austin Elliott December 23 Gerald Humerickhouse Caleb Layne Evelyn Gunden December 24 Ashley Brandau December 25 Carol Simmons Mackayla Stutsman Carol Blucker December 26 Aimee Brinson December 27 Earl Taylor Madalyne Swallow December 28 Lena Kent Jeff Karnes Chris Fetters December 29 Sharon Miller Mark Colglazier Jeffrey Herschberger Dillon Wiles December 30 Jeanne Grove December 31 Roger Bayak