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The Monthly Newsletter of St. Luke United Methodist Church · December 2016

A Strange Way to Save the World One Morning Service On December 25 and January 1

How exciting to be able to celebrate the Birth of Christ in the Church on Christmas morning! This year Christmas will be on Sunday, and so we are planning a very special service for that day. All three morning services will meet as one service beginning at 10:00 a.m. (there will be no Sunday School that day). The service will be very relaxed. All children will attend worship with their families that

morning and are invited to wear their Christmas pajamas and bring their favorite toy for a "Blessing of the Toys." We will sing a lot of great Christmas Carols, and members of the staff will share brief devotions based on one of the Carols. It will be a great time of celebration. We anticipate that many churches will not have any services that morning, so bring your friends

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"Rejoice, people of Jerusalem.     Shout for joy, people of Jerusalem. Your king is coming to you.     He does what is right, and he saves.     He is gentle and riding on a donkey.     He is on the colt of a donkey." Zechariah 9:9

This Month • Blue Barrel Sunday • From the Pantry Shelf • The Power of Testimony • Shaping the Church through Discipleship • Giving Matters • Stewardship Update • Testimony from Gordon Talk • Christmas Eve Worship • Christmas Day Worship • Advent and Christmas Worship • 2016 Christ Tree • 2016 Confirmation Class • Announcements • 2017 Nicaragua Mission Trip Opportunities • Happy New Year!


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and neighbors with you, and let's celebrate the birth of Christ together as a church family. The next Sunday is New Year's Day, and we will again have just one morning service at 10:00 a.m. Come, and let's begin the New Year with Prayer and Praise. Our worship order will be drawn from the Covenant Service that John Wesley used to usher in the New Year. So before settling into parade watching, football, and New Year's snacks, let's come together and dedicate our New Year to the Lord.

December 11

• Christmas Music Sunday 8:30, 9:45, 11:00 a.m.

December 18

• Service of Lessons & Carols 8:30, 9:45, 11:00 a.m.

Christmas Eve

• Swahili Worship in the Loft • 12:30 p.m. • Candlelight Service in the Sanctuary 5:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Christmas Day

• Worship in the Sanctuary • 10:00 a.m. • Swahili Worship in the Loft • 12:30 p.m.

Christmas is "A Strange Way to Save the World" This is the theme of our Advent and Christmas Services this year. We will be thinking about the unusual people and events that God used to save the world. Join us for the rest of Advent on December 4, December 11, December 18 at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 a.m. Christmas Eve services will be held at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. How will God use you this Christmas to help "Save the World?" 2 | December 2016


Worship Through the Beautiful Music of the Season on Sunday, December 11

Our morning services on December 11 will be led by the Chancel Choir and our wonderful music ministry as we celebrate Christmas through music. This is always one of the special Sundays of the year. Three services at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:00. Come and worship.

Traditional Service of Lessons and Carols on December 18

This is Pastor Mark's favorite service of the year, as we hear the story of Christmas as told in Scripture. We will begin with the words of the Prophets concerning the coming Messiah and conclude with the Baby Jesus in the manger of Bethlehem. In response to each scripture, there will be beautiful

music of the season offered by individuals, bells, and the choir, as well as congregational songs. It is a wonderful, contemplative time and a great way to start the final hectic week leading to Christmas. All three services at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:00. Invite your neighbors and come and worship.

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Christmas Eve Worship Candlelight Services at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

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e will have our traditional Candlelight Services on Christmas Eve. There will be special time for the kids led by Susan Cutshall, more beautiful music, and the lighting of the Christ Candle accompanied by everyone singing Silent Night. Children will receive a glow stick to use instead of a candle (safety first)! The nursery will be available during the 5:30 service for children who are under 2 years old.

persons outside the church are most likely to respond to your invitation to respond if you invite them.

Bring your family and friends and neighbors and let's celebrate Christmas Eve together. Out of all the services of the year, Christmas Eve is the one that

Swahili Worship at 12:30 p.m. in The Loft

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ur Swahili Language congregation will be meeting in the Loft on Christmas Eve at 12:30 p.m. and again on Christmas Day at 12:30 p.m. All are welcome (even if you don't speak Swahili!)


Christ Tree 2016 A

s is our St. Luke Christmas tradition, we have the opportunity to reach out to those less fortunate.

We have suggestions for gifts on the Christ Tree at the Connection Center. Please select a gift, wrap it, or place gift cards in an envelope. Attach the green name tag so the gift content will not be revealed. All gifts must be at church by December 18 for distribution that day. Any gifts that must be brought in early need to be secured by an usher on Sunday or church staff during office hours. Our gifts this year will be given to needy families that have been served through the Alms Fund and those who are refugees, recently arrived in Lexington from the Republic of Congo. Be a blessing, provide a blessing. December 2016 | 5


ANNOUNCEMENTS Kentucky Refugee Ministries Coat Drive

Fall is upon us! With these cool mornings and moving into winter, Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) is in need of winter coats for newly-arrived/arriving refugee families. We can accept new and gently used coats. We are also in need of warm blankets, hats, gloves, and scarves.  Items can be dropped off at St. Luke UMC and marked KRM or at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, 1206 North Limestone, Lexington, KY 40505.  Telephone 859-226-5661.  For more information contact Reid Buchanan 859-269-4687 or e-mail rbuchanan@stlukeumc.org.

Light the Advent Wreath This Year

It is our tradition to have individuals and families light the Advent Wreath at each morning worship service during Advent/Christmas. We will need three families or individuals for the 8:30, 9:45 and 11:00 services on December 11 and 18, and for the two services on Christmas Eve, at 5:30 and 7:30. If you would like to be a part of this wonderful tradition, please contact Will Solomon or Pastor Mark, or sign up on the sheet in the Connection Center.

Church Conference Scheduled for Wednesday, December 7, at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary District Superintendent James Williams will be with us on the evening of December 7 to lead us in our Annual Church Conference as we consider the business of the church. Items on the agenda will include: Affirming Leadership for 2017, setting of salaries for all Clergy appointed by the Annual Conference, and hearing the ministry reports of staff and directors. Every member of the church is encouraged to participate in this annual celebration of the ministry of the church.

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Extra Christmas Decorations? Donate Them! Do you have Christmas decorations you no longer use? Or perhaps small unused items that could be ‘regifted’? Each year we make such items available to our God’s Pantry clients. We are currently accepting donations at a table by the God's Pantry door. Choir Music Services at St. Luke Our St. Luke UMC Christmas Choir Music will be presented at the 8:30, 9:45 and 11:10 services on Sunday, December 11! Each year the choir works hard to create a special musical program to share with the congregation and, again this year, they will provide a heart-warming and exhilarating variety of music. The St. Luke Chancel Choir, Bell Choir, and a small orchestra will help us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ! Come and welcome the Holy Child to our world, and invite someone to come with you to share this beautiful worship experience! Feed the Choir At St. Luke UMC we have a tradition of “Feeding the Choir” during the special Christmas Choir Services, and we hope you will help us! Please bring your breakfast/ brunch items to the church early on Sunday morning, December 11, so our musicians know they are appreciated for all their hard work!

St. Luke University Mondays, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

St. Luke University is a group of college-age folks who attend St. Luke. We gather to walk alongside one another as we grow in love for God and one another. We follow hard after Christ. He is everything to us. Contact John Duff at jduff@stlukeumc.org for more info.

UPCOMING EVENTS Church Conference Wednesday, December 7 6:00 p.m. • Sanctuary Christmas Music Sunday Sunday, December 11 8:30, 9:45, 11:00 • Sanctuary A Service of Lessons and Carols Sunday, December 18 8:30, 9:45, 11:00 • Sanctuary Swahili Christmas Eve Saturday, December 24 12:30 p.m. • The Loft Christmas Eve Services Saturday, December 24 5:30 & 7:30 p.m. Christmas Day Service Sunday, December 25 10:00 a.m. • Sanctuary Swahili Christmas Service Sunday December 25 12:30 p.m. • The Loft

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SHAPING THE CHURCH THROUGH DISCIPLESHIP BY JOHN WESLEY DUFF

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s Director of Discipleship and as St. Luke closes out a year focused on discipleship, I am excited about moving forward with a vision of great Christian Community and Discipleship to help shape the culture of St. Luke. From scripture, we know that Christians are best grown and nurtured through continual practice of devotional disciplines and through relational communities who place a high emphasis on growing in holy love. 8 | December 2016

The first part of this approach is about devotional disciplines or "Means of Grace." The term "Means of Grace" can be defined as the things that God uses to pour His transformative grace into our lives. Jesus practiced a few of them and instituted some. The traditional Means of Grace are prayer, reading the Bible, fasting, participating in small groups, and participating in the Lord’s Supper or Communion. Though people can experience the grace of God in many ways, these are the five traditional means that we see in Jesus’ life which he told us

to practice. I don’t know about you, but I need as much grace as I can get! Thus, as a Christian wanting to be who God wants me to be, I make it a priority to practice these devotional disciplines as often as possible. Which one of these five practices might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to take your next step in to help you grow deeper in your relationship with Him? In addition to devotional disciplines, having relational communities who place a high emphasis on growing in holy love is the second part to


spiritual growth. This includes building a church family where people know each other well so that they can extend grace and have relationships built on trust. This community changes from a “look good on Sunday” culture to a“let’s have authentic relationships” culture where we can really be who we are and pursue God in accountable relationships. Relational communities also include an emphasis on serving others through acts of love and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with them. This is the good news: that Jesus came to the earth He created, suffered and died for our sins, then was raised by His Father back to life. He then sent his disciples out on mission to love the world and tell everyone His story, because He is coming back, and everything will be put under His feet; He will come back as King. It is his disciples’ job to ready themselves as well as partner with the Holy Spirit in ways in which he is getting the world ready for that day.

Team focuses on this: the point of the discipleship at St. Luke which is “to equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” That is our vision: unity under Jesus Christ, building mature disciples. We do this through an emphasis on practicing the means of grace (devotional disciplines) and building a relational community focused on growing in holy love to be who Christ wants us to be. Would you join us in the purpose?

As we move forward into the new year, St. Luke’s Grow and Equip

Jesus Christ in Every Life December 2016 | 9


Giving MATTERS Giving

Generous People in Action

Dear St. Luke Family, pray your Thanksgiving was filled with joy and peace and that as we enter the Advent season, the truth of the Christ child coming into our midst brings fresh purpose to your life.

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As 2016 comes to a close, I want to encourage you to be generous. Be generous with your service, be generous with your gifts, and be generous with your love. All we have comes from Christ, and as our Advent reflections help us “calibrate� our lives, I encourage you to make each action, each

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encounter, each opportunity be filled with peace, be filled with joy, and reflect the love of Christ. These are things you will never regret, and they are things that will change the world. Love in Christ,

Nora Conner Associate Pastor Director of Ministry and Stewardship


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s is our tradition at St. Luke, each year we dedicate 100% of our offering on Christmas Eve to special outreach projects.  This year, our offering will be split between an international project with our mission partnership in Nicaragua and locally with our two local Wesley Foundations.  The international Nicaragua project will fund an upgrade to the building the preschool is using in Yaklawas (where we also recently completed a school).  The preschool has been meeting in an older wooden building with a dirt floor and no door, and there

is not room for it in the new school building.  The estimated cost to provide the materials for this renovation is $1,800, which includes a concrete floor, a door, and making other needed repairs.  Any amount we receive above $1,800 will be split between the UK and EKU Wesley Foundations.  If you would like to contribute to these projects but will not be here on Christmas Eve, just note it in the memo line of your check, on an offering envelope, or in the memo section for online giving.  Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Stewardship Update Through October 2016 September 2016 Budget needs

$ 126,481.15

Total income*

$ 96,984.34

Expenses

$

Expenses-to-Income deficit

$

(7,955.51)

Budget needs (as of 10-31-16)

$

1,113,034.12

$

1,025,940.05

2016 Year-to-Date

Expenses (as of 10-31-16)

104,939.85

Total income (as of 10-31-16)*

$

Alms donations for October 2016.

$ 3,679.10

Balloon Fund contributions year-to-date (as of 10-31-16)

$ 74,709.85

Expenses-to-Income deficit (as of 8-31-16)

971,057.57 ($54,882.48)

Balloon Fund contributions for October 2016.

$

Life Center mortgage balance (as of 10-31-16).

$ 2,565,694.49

5,435.00

*Total income includes contributions, building use fees, and Kroger card receipts. Questions? Please contact Nora Conner, Associate Pastor/Director of Ministry and Stewardship December 2016 | 11


The Going Forth Team

April 1-9, 2017

Your opportunity to serve on a short-term mission trip to Nicaragua.

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e will be joining local partners in Nicaragua to support a newly planted church through this intentional effort to combine discipleship and community development in Nicaragua. Transportation is by the Rio Bocay River. We will continue to build relationships with people living along the river.

Objectives of the Partnership: • Leadership training • Medical outreach at the small clinic at Kayaskita . • Light construction at the clinic Opportunities for St Luke UMC • People willing to help financially support our team members and project • Interest from those willing to "go" into the fields • Prayer

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Q: How much does it cost? A: Tentative cost of $1,795 per person includes roundtrip airfare, all meals in Nicaragua, all ground and water transportation, lodging, airport arrival and departure taxes, and programming. Participants will need money for snacks, souvenirs, and meals/snacks on travel days at the beginning and end of the trip outside Nicaragua. Q: How can I find out more? A: Those who would like to learn more and discern if this is an experience to which God is calling them may email Reid at rbuchanan@stlukeumc.org. Additional information will be sent to you, along with the dates, times and locations of informational gatherings.


in the New Year Want to have a more meaningful prayer life? Take an intentional step in this direction for the New Year? Over 25 people attended the "Too Busy Not to Pray" class (November 13-December 4), using Bill Hybels' book and video series. It's an encouraging and inspirational time, with honest discussion and very relatable teaching. Chuck and Sue Lord will again facilitate this fourweek study on Sundays, 5:30-7:00 pm in the New Year. The start date has not yet been set, but the hope is to begin in January. If you yearn to grow in your prayer life and would like to be informed about upcoming classes on prayer, contact Sue Lord - she will keep you posted! She can be reached at 859-797-1586 or at suzannehlord@gmail.com. December 2016 | 13


BY WILL SOLOMON

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hroughout the years, I’m always encouraged to find that with each new Advent season comes a new theme God desires to reveal to me via the same biblical story. It’s a miraculous thing, because the words of Luke haven’t changed since being written around 70 AD, but somehow they speak something a little different every time I read them. Hope, redemption, faithfulness, compassion, and newness are just a few of the themes I’ve experienced over my 33 Christmases here on Earth. As I recognize what seems to be a new annual theme each year, I find the Lamentations passage about God’s mercies being new every morning ringing very true,

applying to every new advent and Christmas morning as well. When I begin to reflect on Christmas 2016, one theme that has started to emerge is perspective. Perspective is such a fascinating thing. Throughout Luke’s story of Christ’s birth we can get somewhat of an idea on the perspectives of each biblical character. We soon discover the story of Immanuel looked vastly different to the shepherds than it did to Joseph, different to King Herod than the Magi, or different to Mary than to her aunt Elizabeth, and so on. The beautiful thing is that these characters' perspectives have become such a major part of our own Christmas traditions and


personal stories. We bundle up and put nativity scenes out in our front yards in thirty degree weather, hoist our little ones up on our shoulders to place a star atop our Christmas trees, put in extra hours at work to then stand in long lines to get just the right gift for our loved ones. Unfortunately, not everyone knows why these traditions exist. Underneath it all, it's because there's a story behind them God's story. As we examine the depths of each biblical character within the Christmas story and the likelihood of their economic status, ethnicity, lineage, age, passions, professions, geographic location, or what they possibly ate for breakfast the morning they decided to follow a bright star in the sky, it seems with each perspective we find something we can relate to, even if the only thing that thing might be is our linking humanity. Though I’m sure there were many, one important and beautiful link all

of these biblical characters had was their connection to a little

If you’re interested in sharing your story, be it from behind the

"...your perspective matters and it’s part of a story, a big story that’s been unfolding from the beginning of time..." newborn baby named Jesus. This baby vastly changed their trajectory, their motivations, their understandings, their whole entire lives – and that’s a story worth sharing. All of this is to say, your perspective matters and it ’s part of a story – a big story that’s been unfolding f rom the beginning of time, and here at St. Luke we want, I would even go as far as to say, we need to hear your story.

pulpit on a Sunday morning, a Wednesday.comm evening, in the monthly newsletter, a video recording, a handwritten letter, an email, or via a puppet show with lights and pyrotechnics, please let me know and we’ll make it happen. Will Solomon Director of Worship wsolomon@stlukeumc.org

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The Greatest Gift of All by Gordon Talk

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n a church I once served, there was a little girl who would periodically place on the pulpit a drawing which she had done for me as a special gift. They were simple line drawings without any artistic merit, but what sanctified them was that on each drawing she had a heart, a cross, and these words: “I love you.” These emblems of faith were the first things I saw when I entered the pulpit on Sunday morning to lead worship. Those drawings reassured me that God’s loving care was with me. This is the season in which we prepare to give gifts to others as part of

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our celebration of the coming of Christ. Each year as I consider my gift giving, I remember that little child and her precious gifts to me, and I ponder what makes a gift great. I believe that a great gift honors God. A great gift is not simply a thing, but it has qualities of grace that illuminate and bestow the richness of God’s redeeming love. Is this not what God’s gift of His Son gives to us? Each of us is given the gift of God’s love through our Lord Jesus, and as we accept that great gift, God is glorified. I believe a great gift enriches and enhances


the life of the one who receives it. This is what the child’s gifts of simple drawings did for me. This was transferred through me to those gathered in worship, in the assurance of God’s hallowing presence in our midst. I believe a great gift can be the simplest of things. Recently I was in the hospital and received, f rom a number of St. Luke members, a variety of tokens of love and concern, none of which were expensive. They were simply notes, presence, words, prayers, smiles, and hugs, but each was a gift of grace that touched my heart,

anointed my soul and helped heal my body. I believe a great gift not only gives to the one who receives it, but gives to the gift bearer as well. God’s overwhelming grace rebounds into the life of the one who gives, bringing a newness of spirit that leads to eternal life. A great gift can be as simple as a childish drawing or as sacrificial as Christ’s death on the cross, but one thing is found in all: a great gift is a gift that bears witness to the greatest gift – the gift of love in Christ, which is the very life of God.

Rev. Gordon and Clarice Talk December 2016 | 17


BLUE BARREL SUNDAY December 18 Pick up your Blue Barrel Bag on December 11 and return it filled with food items on December 18 and drop it in the Blue Barrel. This month we are focusing on canned meat items. We encourage donations of canned meat items such as tuna, chicken, salmon, sardines, chili with meat, spam, Vienna sausage, small canned ham, and more. On last month's Blue Barrel Sunday we received 620 lbs of food. Some items came in the week before in blue bags and some came in the Sunday after. Together, that was another 164 lbs. The grand total was 784 lbs of food collected.

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From the Pantry Shelf

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hanks to the many St. Luke members who helped to make the God’s Pantry Sharing Thanksgiving food distribution another successful event! Our role on November 22 is only one part of a multi-faceted effort to provide food to the hungry families in Fayette County. On a holiday known for over-eating, what a blessing to give to those who are simply thankful for a good meal.

By Karen Hinkle

increases from January through March. You can contact Coordinator Karen Hinkle at kphinkle@twc. com or the Volunteer Scheduler Kathy Gendreau at katgen452@twc.com. Orientation is provided.

It is time to start thinking of new year resolutions. Have you considered giving a few hours a week or a few hours a month to help others or to give thanks for your blessings? Think about our St. Luke God’s Pantry Food Bank. Several regular volunteers go south during the winter months, so the need for volunteers

On Sunday, November 20, seven young people declared their faith in Jesus Christ as part of Confirmation Sunday and the completion of their Confirmation. In addition, Erin Hayslip and Rhodes Gifford were baptized.

From left to right: Deven Chang, Erin Hayslip, Calvin Adams, Hannah Morgan, Evan Morgan, Rhodes Gifford, Isaac Gawlik. December 2016 | 19


Welcome to St. Luke!

Liz and Bruce Maybriar

On Sunday, November 20, we had four new members join the church.

Ralph and Mirian Williams

We very much appreciate all of those who have helped contribute to our high quality monthly church newsletters throughout 2016! We love to read your stories, testimonies, ministry updates, and ways in which St. Luke is a part of your lives. Would you like to write for the January newsletter? Do you have a testimony or ministry story to share? We would love to have your writing in here! Just submit your content to mwalz@stlukeumc.org before December 15.

2351 Alumni Dr., Lexington, KY 40517 ¡ 859-269-4687

Worship Schedule: Sanctuary: 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 11:00 a.m. God’s Backyard (K - 5th grade): 11:00 a.m. Swahili Worship: 12:30 p.m. Multicultural Worship: 3:00 p.m. Child care available at all services.


December 2016 Newsletter