It is hard for me to come to this particular part of the year without thinking of newness. It is a very Biblical concept. And it is something that each of us, Christian or not, needs to be aware of, need to pursue. The choice is obvious- either we become new, or we stay the same. Speaking for myself, I don't want to stay the same... ever. I am not nearly all I want to be or believe I should be. So I am all for being made new.
But how? Paul tells us that if anyone is "in" Christ Jesus, they "are a new creation, the old has gone, and the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17). And Jesus says in the revelation that John received, "Behold, I make all things new." (Revelations 21:5) That is a pretty amazing promise. One that will only be completely fulfilled when he comes again.
But in the meantime, we can be made new and can help make the world new, by being "in" Christ, by inviting him into our hearts, and by abiding in him, at his invitation (John 15). This is not something that we do once and are done. Rather, it is something we need to do every day- our personal prayer of surrender. Also, it should be stated that once we have been made new, we are commissioned to join him in making others, and the world, new as well. Big challenge!
So how about it? Do you want to be the same, or be made new? I pray we will choose to be made new, and follow him into this new year with high expectancy, hope, and joy!
Sundays - Every Sunday - Worship Service - 10:30 am in person and via Zoom.
1/1 - Communion Sunday - Also still collecting coins for benevolence.
1/15 - Annual Meeting and Potluck following the service - in person and via Zoom.
Wednesdays - Every Wednesday Bible Study - 7 PM via Zoom
Thursdays - 1/5 - Church Board Meeting via Zoom - 7 PM
Contact Gary @ firstname.lastname@example.org for Zoom links
Other News -
Communion Sunday - Start the new year with Communion during worship on Sunday, January 1. If you are attending via Zoom, please have your own elements ready to participate.
Annual Meeting and Potluck -Plan to stay after worship on Sunday, January 15 for a potluck and then our annual meeting. Everyone's input is needed. Even if you are relatively new to the church, be sure to come! It is an important time to look at the past year and look ahead to the new year. Please bring a couple of dishes to share for the potluck. Look for your minutes from the 2022 meeting via your email. Be sure to read them before the meeting and print them if you want to bring them to the meeting.
Prayer Request - Please keep Deb Schroeder in prayer. She was in the hospital this week with Afib. She has been released and will be on several kinds of medication. She will have a follow-up with a cardiologist in January.
What are you planning right now? What are you getting ready for right now? What will it take to make those plans a reality?
I'm only asking because it seems I am always in the midst of some kind of plan. Or always in the middle of getting ready for something- a trip, a purchase, a new way of doing things. It all takes planning. It all requires time. It all takes work.
I'm sort of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of guy, but even I know that my flying will be better if I have some idea where I am going. Now, I believe that God has plans, too, including plans for me and you. And I believe it would be wise for me- and for you- to consult him about his plans before I go launching mine. It just makes sense.
Ever since Adam and Eve stepped away from God's plan with one of their own, God has been working on a new plan to remedy the mess that came with their plan. That mess we call sin, separation from God, death. Whenever we choose our own way over God's, the result is the same. And no amount of striving on our part to remedy the situation is going to change it.
That's why God has a plan. And the pages of the Bible detail that plan. It called for sending his son, to make things right. That coming of his son is what we are getting ready to celebrate at Christmas.
I hope you will take the time these days to consider your own plans in light of his. I hope you will take the time to read about and consider God's plans. I hope you know that it is a plan based on God's incredible love for you- and for every person that has ever walked the earth. I hope you will take time to thank God and praise him over and over for his good, loving, plan.
Glad to be with you on this journey! Glad I'm not flying alone!
Wednesdays - 11/30, 12/7, and 12/14 - Bible Study via Zoom - 7 PM
12/21 - Sing the Songs of Christmas - 6:30 PM - Sanctuary - Refreshments to follow.
Thursdays - 12/1 - Church Board Meeting via Zoom - 7 PM
Fridays - 12/2 - Youth Overnight - Meet at 6 PM at the church. More information is below.
Saturdays - 12/24 - Christmas Eve Candlelight Service - 4:30 PM in person in the sanctuary and via Zoom.
- Light appetizers after the service in the fellowship room.
Sundays - Every Sunday - Worship Service - 10:30 am. In-person and via Zoom.
12/4 - Second Sunday in Advent and Communion Sunday
- Congregational Meeting immediately following worship.
12/11 - Third Sunday in Advent
- All church potluck in the basement - see information below.
12/18 - Fourth Sunday in Advent
- Coin Collection Sunday
12/25 - Christmas Day - No worship service today. Celebrate Jesus's birth with family and friends!
Contact Gary at email@example.com for Zoom links
Other News -
Youth Overnight - Middle School and High School kids are invited to come to an overnight retreat on Friday, December 2nd. Plan on meeting at the church at 6 PM to carpool to the cabin. Please eat dinner before you come. Bring a sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries, warm clothing, a snack to share, and a favorite board game or group game if you have one. We will have breakfast, and be back at the church by noon. RSVP to Gary by Thursday night December 1 if you are coming. Text him to let him know. 815-985-8796.
Congregational Meeting -A congregational meeting will be held right after church on Sunday, December 4. Please plan on staying for the meeting. Your opinion and vote count! Decisions on the budget will be made.
Church Potluck - We are having a potluck on Sunday, December 11 after the worship service. Plan on coming to this time of fellowship and good food. Please bring a hot and cold dish to share. To make the day even more festive and fun, wear an ugly Christmas sweater if you have one! Or any other Christmas sweater will do! It is a great time to get acquainted with people. Try to sit with a couple of people you don't know! Talk to Judy Murphy if you have questions.
Family in Need - Every year at Christmas, we contact the school to get a name of a family in need. This year we are helping a family that is sheltering a mother and her two daughters from Ukraine. The father and son are still in Ukraine. Please check the bulletin board in the fellowship room if you are interested in helping.
Sing the Songs of Christmas - We will be having our annual indoor Christmas music sing-along on Wednesday, December 21 at 6:30 PM in the sanctuary. Come for a fun night of singing your favorite songs! As long as Gary can play it, we can sing it! You get to choose the songs we sing! Invite a friend or neighbor to join us. We want to have cookies afterward, so we are looking for a few volunteers to do that. Sign-up sheet in the fellowship room.
Christmas Eve - Join us on Saturday, December 24 at 4:30 for our Christmas Eve service. We will hear the Christmas story, sing beautiful carols, hear a message, and close by candlelight as we sing Silent Night. This is our only service for Christmas weekend, so we hope to see everyone. We would like to have a few appetizers after the service. Sign-up sheet in the fellowship room.
Congratulations - Congratulations to Sam and Allison (Reid) Green who were married on November 13. They are currently living in Beloit. We pray for God's blessings as they start their married life together.
Thanks -Thanks to everyone who helped decorate the church for Advent/Christmas. It looks so beautiful! Also thanks to the guys who moved the big table to the basement. And special thanks to Jessica Boezem who provided a delicious pasta lunch after we were done decorating.
Looking Ahead -
Annual Meeting and Potluck - Sunday, January 15 following the worship service. This is an important time to look at the past year and look ahead to the year to come. Plus we always have really good food!
The Chosen - We are considering a time to watch The Chosen and then have a discussion after each episode. If you are unfamiliar with The Chosen, it is an excellent series about the life of Christ. Please let Gary know if you would be interested. The date and time are yet to be determined. That will depend on interest. It would not be Sunday morning. We would start with Season 1 which has 8 episodes.
Gary Schwerin, pastor