DECEMBER 2009 Volume 2 Issue 2
It is hard to believe we are almost through the month of December. It is my prayer that you have taken part of this month to reflect on the purpose and the power of what we celebrate in Christâ€™s birth. This time of year can be so filled with stresses and sadness as well as the business of celebrations and reunions that I believe we need to be grounded in Christ in order to truly live in the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.
Rev. Jennifer Fenner, Pastor
Bethel United Methodist Church 16101 Swanson RD Upper Marlboro, MD 20774 Office: 301 627-4515 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hisbethel.org
From Luke 2:8-14 we hear: And
there were shepherd living out in the fiel s ds nearby, keeping watch over th An angel of the Lord eir flocks at night. ap the glory of the Lord peared to them, and shone around them, they were terrified. But the angel said to and "Do not be afraid. I bring you good new them, s of great joy that will be for al l th e p eo p le . Today in town of David a Sav ior has been born to the y Christ the Lord. Th is will be a sign to y ou; he is ou: You find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in will a manger." Suddenly a great Company o f the heavenly host ap peared with the angel, praising G od an "Glory to God in th d saying, e hig and on earth peace hest, to men on whom His Favor rests."
Page 2 For those of us who are overwhelmed and wish to opt out of the ‘season’, scripture tells us that Christmas truly is a time of celebration; a time in which the entire world – all people – are included in the good news of a great joy! The celebration and the joy are not necessarily found in the Christmas cookies or in our Christmas carols. We may not find it if we attend EVERY Christmas party. We may not even find this ‘great joy’ as our family and friends acknowledge and show their appreciation of our best holiday efforts!
Beloved, our joy comes from the worldwide proclamation that God is indeed speaking to us in
actions. God so desired to be in relationship with us, that He sent Himself! He was born in Bethlehem, not simply for the Jews, but for all people. The humility and the power of this baby King of Kings will be the light that guides us in our life! We rejoice because we can be made whole by this baby born in Bethlehem.
Our celebration and our joy in knowing God’s love is only made complete when we make the journey to meet this Savior – born for us in Bethlehem. We cannot be saved by something we do not know. We can not claim salvation from a God we have never met. Moreover, we cannot accept Christ as our Savior if we do not believe we are in need of being saved.
This Christmas season, do you believe you need a savior? Do you think you need to be saved from something, perhaps yourself? Or is your life relatively stable on its own? Do you believe that you need some kind of divine intervention in order live at peace with God? Or are you and God on pretty good terms whenever you find a moment to make a request? Have you searched for peace or wholeness only to realize that you never quite ‘completely’ find it? Or are your finances, your relationships, and your desires stable enough that you can make it on your own? Do you struggle with doubts about your worth? Would God (or anyone) claim you, love you, and live with you? Do you believe that living at peace with God is even worth it? Do you believe living at peace with God is even necessary? Do you see the effects of sin and death around you? Does God’s triumph over sin and death through Christ’s resurrection have any practical affects on YOUR life? Christmas can definitely become more than we are able to bear at times. For some, it is a time of great loneliness. For others, stress is greatly heightened. Yet the story of Jesus is really very simple and amazingly profound at the same time. Sin still exists. You, I, this world, and all whom we love will disappoint and let God down. Death and disease still exists. But the good news is that we can be restored to be the people God made us to be. God took on flesh to live among us. He restored broken relationships and bridged the sin-gap that existed between God and man. Because of this reconciliation, we can live in peace through God’s grace. Jesus came to earth to pay for our sins at the cross and to give us eternal life with Him. We are blessed because of Jesus! God’s gift to us is the Christ child. Jesus Christ became the human form of grace to us. While it is true that wise men still seek Him, it is more wonderfully true that He still seeks us--whoever we may be today. From His place in the heavenlies, comes His divine invitation: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.(Revelation 3:20).
I f our President sent you an official invitation, you would surely accept! The Babe of Bethlehem, who is now the Christ of Glory invites you today. The door is the door of your heart. May you respond. May all His blessings be yours this Christmas.
True wisdom is seeking the wisdom that comes from God! But the problem is, most of us would rather learn things our own way then to trust the wisdom of another, even if that other is God! To wrap this truth in Christmas paper, why is it that the Shepherds (who were not considered wise), were the only ones on the scene when the babe was born? Where were the religious scholars of that day? The answer is the fact that those who considered themselves to be wise could not see this plain and simple truth. Sad, isn't it! What about us? Can we see the real truth of Christmas? So what made the magi wise? First of all, they didn't let their culture, or backgrounds get in the way of seeking the King! The Magi were Gentiles. Secondly, they left everything behind to pursue the truth. As a result, they found Jesus. What about us? Are we willing to leave our culture and background behind us to pursue the truth? How far will we journey to find the truth? The Magi were wise because they worshiped this new King. These great men of learning willingly bowed down before Jesus and gave Him costly gifts. These gifts were the reasons for their journey! What is the reason for our spiritual journey? Is it to worship and give, or to be entertained? Are we motivated to find the truth, or are we motivated to justify whatever we are already doing in our lives? The only way to find true wisdom is by bowing our lives to Jesus and worshiping Him. Give Him your life as a gift. Finally, the Magi were wise because they listened to God. After they saw Jesus, they had a dream in which God told them not to return to Herod, so they went home a different way (Mat. 2:12). Be wise this Christmas and listen. Spend time listening to God by praying, reading His Word, and by retreating from the busyness of this Season to find a quiet place to hear. Spend this Christmas time wisely!
Merry Christmas! From Bethel United Methodist Church
hristmas Joy is about living into the freeing power that God can be reconciled with us through Christ and that OUR
LIVES WILL BE DIFFERENT WHEN WE ARE RECONCILED TO GOD INSTEAD OF WORKING AGAINST GOD. There might still be conflicts in our families, at the work places, in our lives, and even in our church. But slowly, the power of being at peace with God will begin to change how we respond, how much we worry, and where we focus our lives. Because of God’s precious gift, we also have life. There is a big difference in breathing and living. If you are alive, you are breathing. But just because you are breathing does not mean you are living abundantly. So many people do not know about a life that is enriched by the love, peace, and grace of God. It is much like a real Christmas tree. You cut it down, buy it, take it home, put it in water, and then decorate it with lights and ornaments. But soon the needles become dry, brittle, and brown. Even though the tree looked beautiful when first decorated, it had been cut off from its life source and was dead on the inside. People who “live” today, without the life of Jesus Christ, are like beautifully ornamented and brightly lit-up Christmas trees. They may look fine on the outside (driving the nicest cars, wearing designer clothes, living in really nice homes, and having all the comforts of material items and/or money) but they are DEAD on the inside. God does not want us to be like a freshly cut Christmas tree, destined for DEATH. God would have us to accept His most precious gift of life with Him. Knowing that when the sin and death of this world overcomes us, we can be triumphant through Christ. So even though the wages of sin is death, the most precious gift we can ever receive is this free gift from God. It is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) So when Christ comes again, the Prince of Peace with reign over all creation, reconciling all things to Himself and there will be no more tears, no more crying, and death will be no more. Until He returns, we are ambassadors to go and tell others about this promised and present peace. It is during this Christmas season that we have life with a sense of grace, peace, and hope that comes only from our Father. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests. The Prince of Peace reigns. Our Savior has been born! If you are convinced that God’s way is the only way to a meaningful life now AND eternal life in heaven, you can tell Him in words like these: Dear God, I do believe that Jesus died for me and took the punishment that I deserve for my sins. I want to receive Your free gift of salvation and eternal life. Amen