Dec 27, 2012

The Year in Review

As I read the names of saints from our church who passed between last All Saints Day and this one, it was hard to do. We lost some marvelously faithful folks and it made me realize how important people become to one another. In our daily grind of making a living, it is difficult to keep at making a life. My family also buried two of our favorite dogs—Emmie and Sadie—this year and, although we still have four canines, we do miss the two that have assumed their place in our pet cemetery.

I want to commend the great work our music program has offered to the church and community. The Chancel Choir, Testament Youth Choir, Children’s Choirs, Youth Orchestra, Ambassador Ringers, and LifeSong have had a great year filled with opportunities to minister to many groups throughout Arlington and the country. Testament enjoyed a very successful choir tour to Denver, Colorado, last summer. Sixty-six youth and fourteen adult sponsors went on this momentous tour. Testament sang in worship on the trip and shared the love of Christ through music as they sang at retirement homes. Plans are underway for next summer’s tour to Memphis, Tennessee.

As you may not know, the Chancel Choir has been invited to sing in the Distinguished Concerts International New York World Premiere concert of American composer Mark Hayes’ “Requiem” at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on May 27, 2013. A group of 21 representing First United Methodist Church of Arlington will travel to New York City on May 24, where the singers will have the opportunity to work with Mr. Hayes, who is conducting the concert.

The Children’s Choirs, Youth Orchestra, and Ambassador Ringers have provided beautiful music in worship and have presented programs at retirement homes throughout Arlington. The Chancel Choir raised money to supply costumes for Webb Elementary’s musical production, which was presented at Creative Arts Theatre School last spring. All of our Music Ministry groups enjoy using their musical gifts as they share the love of Christ and glorify God through music.

There is at the end of this year a wonderful and generous spirit among the people of our congregation. I could go on and on, but choose to remember Jesus words from John 16:12:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now”

Dec 17, 2012

Acknowledging Our Sin

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:5-10).

If nothing else, the idea of human sin is one which the Bible is interested. For instance, in John’s Gospel, Jesus tells some accusers that those who are without sin [should] cast the first stone. Everyone immediately leaves. Paul, too, deals with the theme of universal sinfulness by saying that all [people] have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The author of 1 John takes up this theme as well.

Although it is probably more a sermon than a letter, 1 John has some sage advice for the early church community. Our verses today have to do with the common theme that all people stand in need of the grace of God for all walk in darkness without God. The teaching imparted here is that there are two kinds of persons. The first are people of the light for they walk in the light of God and by so doing have fellowship with God. The other kind of person is a person who walks in darkness, and these persons can claim modest fellowship with God, for they “do not do what is true.”

The text 1 John 1:5-10 speaks to all human being’s need to become children of light if they are to be true to the purposes of God. When we worship, we acknowledge the reality that people are alienated from God and one another and we go from there. It is about that simple.

I hope to see you Sunday and on Christmas Eve at our multiple worship services (4—for children, 6, 8, and 11 pm). Also, feel to bring a friend or two—this is a blessed time for guests in the house of God!

Dec 7, 2012

The Candy Cane Story

I thought some folks might enjoy this story for the holiday season:

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would tell the story of Jesus, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.

He began with a pure white, hard stick of candy. He used white to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus; and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the church, and firmness of the promises of God.

He then shaped the candy into the form of a “J” to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It could also represent the staff of the “Good Shepherd” with which he reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs that, like all sheep, have gone astray.

Because it appeared somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

Unfortunately, it became known as a candy cane—a hollow decoration seen at Christmas time. The meaning, however, is still there for those who “have eyes to see and ears to hear.” I hope that this symbol will again come to tell people of the wonder of Jesus and his great love which came to earth that first Christmas and remains the ultimate and dominant force in the universe today.

May every candy cane you see remind you of the joy that comes through Jesus Christ and the real meaning of Christmas.

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