The Zion and Jerusalem choirs will be singing together at Jerusalem’s annual Advent Service on Sunday, Dec. 1st, at 7:00 p.m. at Jerusalem Lutheran Church. The congregation is invited to come worship that evening and enjoy the Advent Cantata the choirs have been practicing.
The moon was bright. The sky was clear and cold. The stars were twinkling overhead. The dog was restless, and so was I. Unable to sleep, I stood outside on the porch, wrapped in an Afghan, listening to the trees whispering to each other. There was excitement in the air! I could feel it! Christmas was coming! And all of nature knew it! Everything leaned toward the east, yearning for those first signs of dawn, wiggling and jiggling in anticipation of good things to come, and everywhere there were the hopeful sounds, the joyful sounds, the peaceful sounds that love makes.
Earlier that evening, at the candlelight worship service at church, we all held our tiny flames, a light in the darkness, as we stood around the labyrinth and sang “Silent Night”. Our collective breath rose in little prayer-puffs up toward the steeple. It felt as though all the angels in heaven had stopped their own singing, and God himself stood still, turning his great head toward us, so he could listen to our song-offering. Every year, it is the same. No matter how many times I hear the story, no matter how many times I sing the song, the tears come – tears of gratitude for the gift of love God gave to us in Jesus. “Jesus, Lord at your birth. Jesus, Lord at your birth.” I returned to my bed and fell asleep to dream of cattle lowing, and the smell of warm hay.
Morning comes, at last! I bound out of bed to watch the sky turn neon pink as the sun tops the trees, and those first, brilliant rays spill out over the pasture like liquid gold. The frost on the grass begins to melt and little drops of water drip from the trees, and the anole that lives in side my birdhouse pokes his head out to test the temperature. Christmas dawns again! And for one brief moment, all the world holds it’s breath, as Mary , like any proud, new mother, pulls back the blanket, and we get our first glimpse of that beautiful face that will change us forever; the Christ Child, who looks back at us with eyes already wise. “Son of God. Love’s pure light.” And I am reminded that even in my darkest hour, the light of God’s love shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it, and I smile.
May your Christmas dawn bright as the sun and may the pure light of God’s love in Jesus shine upon you, this Christmas and all year long!
Pastor Barb <><
…in him was life, and the life was the light of all people John 1:4
Angels We Have Heard
Sunday, December 15, 2013 – 5:30 p.m.
Zion Fellowship Hall
Refreshments following program
We invite everyone to come enjoy an evening of song as our very talented children perform a Christmas musical, “Angels We Have Heard.”on Sunday, December 15th, at 5:30 p.m. Rehearsal for the musical is on Sunday, December 8th, immediately following worship, until 3:30p.m. (hotdog lunch will be provided.)
We also have a dress rehearsal on Saturday, December 14th, 12:30 -2:30 p.m. We are scheduling the participants to arrive in waves so that we can streamline the costuming process and reduce the amount of time that our younger participants must wait. We will send notes home with arrival details for each participant. If you do not receive your note by December 1, please call Amy Young (677-1482) or Cheryl Pannal (677-5315).
We thank all of the youth and their parents for their willingness to share their talents. We are excited to share it with you and encourage you to bring your friends. The offering collected at the program will go to support local needs.
We are asking for your help with refreshments for the event. A sign-up sheet for finger foods is in the narthex. Thank you!
To all of our Veterans and their families:
those in active duty, at home or abroad, retired, those who have completed their service, P.O.W.s, M.I.A.s, and those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. We thank God for you!
Thank you for your service!
We rejoice today at the baptisms of Hadley Grace Vandenhouten infant daughter of Brett and Misti Vandenhouten and Turner James Vandenhouten, infant son of Sean and Katie Vandenhouten. We welcome you into the family of God!
Junior Choir performance today:
When I think about Jesus, when I close my eyes to pra y, an image appears. The image changes, depending on the mood I am in and the nature of my prayer. When I am feeling joyful, I think about Jesus blessing the children, his head thrown back in laughter at something they might have said, and I thank the Lord for my life. When I am sick, I think about Jesus laying his hands on the lepers, making them whole again , and I ask for his healing touch on me. When I feel lost and al one, I think of Jesus leaving the ninety-nine sheep to find the one lamb who s lipped beneath the fence, and I am comforted. When I feel th e march of time crawling up my spine, and I wonder if my faith will really save me, I think of Jesus, hanging on the cross, assuring the thief be side him that Paradise awaits, and I pray there is room for me, too. Healer, Savior, Shepherd, Friend… Jesus has been all of these to me at one time or another, and more. But, of all the images I have of him, the one that seldom comes to mind is King. It’s Jesus’ humanness I can relate to. His divinity – ah, now that’s another thing entirely!
Jesus as King can bring to my mind the troubling images o f the End Times as described in the Book of Revelation, with the fear that I might be caught in the middle of the ultimate battle betwee n Good and Evil. And, if I let it, the image of Jesus, riding on a white horse, crowned and adorned in a blood red robe, eyes flashing fire, mouth like a sword, releasing the fury of the wrath of God on the nations can be as scary as the Haunted Trail I walked this Halloween. I much prefer the image of Jesus sitting on a pillow, warm and friendly, enjoying a meal with the common folk to that of a king, meting out justice with an iron hand.
But what I must remember is, just as Jesus was not your typical human, neither is he your typical king. Jesus is the King of Kings. He is, and was, and ever will be the same person he was wh en he walked the earth. Kind, compassionate, just, gentle in spirit, generous and wise, Jesus is and remains unchanged; a Servant King, who would rather die than see one of his subjects hurt. We need not fear th e forces of evil in any Age, for we belong to him, and he is honor bound to protect and care for us. His body and blood were shed for us. He continues to be for us. And, if God is for us, who can be against us?
Christ the King Sunday is the day we recognize Jesus’ kingship. For, what good is it to worship a God who has no power to make good on the promises he has given us? And, so, we rejoice in the fact that at his second coming, Jesus’ power and authority will have no self-imposed limits. When he comes again, Jesus will be able to do all the good that he has refrained from doing since he first left his throne to become one of us. On that day, the things t hat are broken in this world will be mended; pain, and suffering, and death will be no more. He will gather us to himself like a hen gather s her chicks, and we will be safe in the shelter of his wings, forever.
And, so, when I am feeling afraid and the evil force s in this world seem to be closing in, I will think of Jesus, standing calmly before Pilate, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world…You would h ave no power over me unless it had been given you from above;” (John 19) and I will not fear. He is my Lord, my Light, my Joy , my King. Glory be to God!
The peace of Christ be with you always,
Pastor Barb <><
If God is for us, who can be against us? NKJ Romans 8:31
Sheila Windham is organizing a trip to the Guido Gardens in Metter for Saturday, December 7th, 2013.
The Zion bus will leave the church at 5pm. The trip includes a stop at Bevrick’s Restaurant for supper at your own expense. The cost to eat will be $8-$16 per person depending if you get buffet or order off of the menu. You can view the menu on their website at www.bevricks.com
At Guido Gardens, you will see lighted displays with a Christian theme, a glass enclosed prayer chapel, and an animated nativity scene. You will hear Dr. Michael Guido’s voice retelling the story of the birth of Christ. This is a must see if you have never been!
A sign-up sheet is in the entryway. Please put one person per line on sign up sheet.
A love offering to cover the cost of the gas will be taken