Aluminum pop-tops

Aluminum pop-tops are being collected for the local Ronald McDonald House. There is a drawer designated in the fabric chest of drawers in the entrance of the Education Building.

Save your aluminum cans for Abundant Life’s “Trash to Treasure”. (Take off the pop-top rings for the Ronald McDonald House.)

There is also a drawer each for cancelled stamps, Campbell product labels with bar code, old eyeglasses, soap, and General Mills “Box Tops for Education”.

Shine like Stars in the World

There is something about a star that captures the imagination. If you stand outside on a clear evening, it won’t be long before you find yourself, head thrown back, mouth open in wonder, gazing up at the stars. You can’t help it! They are like magnets! And always, there is that one star that shines brighter than all the rest – that one star that you keep coming back to every time you look away. The consolation of a light shining in the darkness captivates us.

Astrologers in the ancient East believed that they could read the thoughts of God in the stars. Perhaps God allowed that to happen on occasion, for we know that wise men were moved by the light of a shining star to go looking for the infant King of the Jews. They weren’t part of the people of Israel, but they had studied the stories in the Hebrew Scriptures. When they found Jesus, somehow they knew that this child was worthy of praise. They fell to their knees and worshipped him, giving him gifts fit for a king.

By the light of a star, the Good News of Jesus’ birth was revealed by God to strangers. The Greek word Ephiphaneia means manifestation, (revelation or showing). And so, we, the Church, enter into the Epiphany season, enlightened by the knowledge that God’s love is for all people, all nations, all races, all social status’.

In Revelations 22:16, Jesus calls himself the “bright morning star.” He is the Light of the world, shining in the darkness, illuminating the shadows of our lives, for it is in darkness that light is most needed. So many people are pining away in the darkness, looking for a sign of hope. Philippians 2:15 tells us that we, as children of God, are to be bearers of that hope – to “shine like stars in the world.” This is why we step out of our comfortable little circle of Light, and reach out to draw in those who don’t know Christ. As his followers, we become agents of his Light – like stars – bringing words of light and life and hope into the dark places in the world.

As we begin a New Year together as the faith community known as Zion Lutheran Church, may we embrace the Light of Christ with renewed vigor and joy, telling everyone we meet of the One whose love has found us – Light from Light, true God from true God.

Tonight, take a moment to look up at the stars. Whisper a little prayer of thanks to God for the gift of Light that fills your world. If you are one who longs to know that Light more intimately, know that Jesus, the Bright Morning Star, waits at the door of your heart and knocks. All you need to do is let him in.

A Blessed Epiphany and a Joyous New Year to you all! Pastor Barb <

Your sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to

you by night; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

Isaiah 60:19

Epiphany Party Chili Cookoff

January 6th is our first 1st Wednesday program of 2010. It is also the actual date of the Epiphany, when we celebrate the Wise Men from the East who followed the star to find the Baby Jesus. So, we are going to celebrate that day by having a Chili Cook-Off as the meal for that night. There is a Sign-Up sheet in the Narthex and in the Fellowship Hall for anyone who wants to enter the Chili Cook-Off. There will be prizes for the winners in each of three categories of chili: The Most Flavorful Chili, The Spiciest Chili, and The Most Unusual Chili. There will also be a competition for the best Corn Bread.

For dessert, we will have the traditional Epiphany Cake, in which an uncooked bean is baked in the cake. Whoever gets the piece of cake with the bean in it gets to be the King or Queen for the evening, gets crowned with a special crown, and receives three gifts fit for royalty!

Come, join the fun! Cook up your best chili or cornbread recipe, and enter the competition!

I Am Silent… And Expectant…

How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given.
I would be silent now, Lord, and expectant…
that I may receive the gift I need,
so I may become the gifts others need.
Guerrillas of Grace Ted Loder

We don’t usually think of Advent as the season to be silent.  We usually reserve silence for Lent.  We view Advent as a busy time, a time to prepare for the Christmas celebration – a time for shopping and decorating and gift-giving and entertaining family and friends with parties and feasts.  Carols float our across the aisles to remind us, “Tis the season to be jolly!”  This is not the time for silence!  But, silence comes.

Some evening, if for only a moment, in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, something will cause you to stop what you are doing, and listen – silent, expectantly.  Maybe you will be getting into your car, your arms loaded with packages.  Maybe things are tight, and your arms are empty this year.  But, somewhere, somehow, during this Advent season, your eyes will be drawn irresistibly to the night sky, blue-black, and filled with stars.  You will pause, eyes shimmering with awe and wonder, as out of the silence, God whispers in your ear, “For unto you, a child is born.  Unto you, the gift is given.”

Suddenly, it will be clear to you as never before, what this whole Advent/Christmas thing is all about.  Suddenly, you will understand how it must have been for the shepherds, standing out under the starry sky, silenced by the sound of angel wings beating against the night air, waiting with fear and trembling, as the God-Gift was revealed to them.  How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given; not a package, but a person – Jesus, the Christ!  A treasure, given for us forever!

History repeats itself.  Year after year, we wait in silent expectation for the God-Gift to return.  Advent after Advent, God, who lives among us, comes to us anew in the silence of our own hearts.  Suddenly, the packages and the parties pale in comparison.  For that brief moment, it won’t matter whether you have gifts under the tree or not, if you have loved ones beside you or not.  You will know that you have everything you need, right there inside you.

This Advent, as you wait expectantly for the God-Gift that is Christ to be born anew in you, may the silence of the moment bring you more joy than you have ever experienced!  May you, like the shepherds, run all the way to Bethlehem, to see this God-Gift for yourself.  May you go out from that place gifted, to be the gifts that others need.

Happy Advent and a Merry Christmas! Pastor Barb

But Mary treasured all these words,

and pondered them in her heart.  Luke 2:19

A Thank You from Bishop H. Julian Gordy

(Excerpts)
December 4, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During my recent trip to Effingham County, I was very pleased to learn some of the details of your significant support of the Lutheran Mission of Abundant Life in Pooler, Georgia. Since the mission began, your support and partnership have been instrumental to the Gospel work of that developing congregation. …

Pr. Seth Bridger is convinced that Abundant Life would not have developed to the current point of health and vitality that it now embodies without your willingness to serve as the Sponsoring Congregation and Fiscal Agent. …

On behalf of our Southeastern Synod and the ELCA, I take this opportunity to express gratitude for your good work. I especially thank two persons who have served faithfully as liaisons with Abundant Life: Mr. Joe Studier, for his willingness in serving as the first Treasurer of the Pooler Mission and Mr. Thomas Kessler, Treasurer of Zion Lutheran, for his instrumental role and integrity.

Thanks to the entire Zion congregation for your active mission partnership with Abundant Life. May God continue to bless the good work you do in Jesus’ name.

Very sincerely,

+ H. Julian Gordy
Bishop
ELCA Southeastern Synod