Isaiah 2:1-5. We begin a four-week series about the promises and hope that the prophet Isaiah offers us. As we get ready for Christmas (we have just over 4 weeks of “shopping days” until Christmas begins), we turn to the Hebrew Bible and the prophet Isaiah as he offers hope to the hopeless Israelites about a better future. Are you in need of a little hope this season? Do you wonder what the future holds? This Sunday we will begin to hear the hope-filled words of Isaiah, words that have come to express to us an expectancy about a Jesus-filled future!
I can remember special “Christmas” calendars with little windows I opened everyday from December 1 to December 24 with little “treats” or messages behind each window. Each day there was an excitement building to open the next window on the way to Christmas morning. This year I’d like to challenge us to a different kind of preparation for Christmas. Each day from December 1 to December 24, I want us to set aside a canned good or bag of rice/dried beans to give away at Christmas to someone who is in need.
As a way to prepare for this celebration, I want you to begin by finding a box and decorating it specially with a Christmas/Jesus/Love theme. Share a picture or video of your box decoration on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ChristmasChallenge (if you tweet it, be sure to mention @sjumc_nova). Everyday beginning December 1, add one item to the box. I have made a calendar for you to use with each day if you like. (Download the adventcalendar2016-monthly) Make this a spiritual experience and everyone can participate; set aside a time each day to place food in your box with others in your household. You can make it a time to pray for your neighbors and those who will receive this food. We will be collecting the boxes on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at Saint James but if you’ll be gone, you can either turn it in early or when you get back! We will be displaying the boxes through the entire 12 Days of Christmas. We will be giving all the food collected to West End Food Pantry and ALIVE after Christmas.
Some people already asked me, “But I don’t live near Saint James. How can I participate?” All of us live in areas that have food banks and food collection spots; give your food box to a local group. This doesn’t have to be a “Saint James thing,” just a “loving our neighbor” kind of thing. Because in the end, that’s what Christmas is all about anyway.
John 6:24-35. This coming week, we say “thanks.” We set aside Thursday as a national day of Thanksgiving. Many of us will eat some special foods that help us remember how thankful we are. For some us, those foods also help us remember our childhoods; sometimes those special foods bring us comfort. They remind us of our history. Sunday’s message centers on food and reminds us about the “bread of life.” Join us Sunday as we focus on thankfulness and our “food connections.”
Galations 6:9. “May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist.”
Have you ever wondered how to move forward when you don’t quite understand where you are or how got there? If so, this message is for you! Join us Sunday as we think together about what is means to persist.
This coming Tuesday, November 15, we invite parents of children at Saint James to join Pastor James at the Mission House (5150 Fillmore Avenue, Alexandria 22311) at 7:00PM for conversation about Children’s Ministry in our future as we move into the new spaces by mid-December. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate if you’ll want childcare. See you then!
Feeling blessed? If so, how about sharing that with some people in our world that could use some love and care for Christmas?
Saint James has gift requests for the residents of the Springdale House; we will have some gift requests for LCAC and will be getting Mr. Greene some things for Christmas.
Want to help? Choose a tag or two and “adopt” someone for Christmas. Be sure when you take a tag to sign up on the sheet so we can get the item to the person in need. Questions, email Linda@sjumc.net.
Read 1 Corinthians 13 and then read Romans 8:31-39. Yes, no surprise we have chosen the thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians as our text to think together about Love. I’ve heard it makes the “world go round,” can “make your heart sing,” and any number of other images about what Love looks like. If Paul says the “greatest of these is Love,” then we better be clear about what it means to love and what love looks like so we can recognize it and how we can can actually, practically be loving everyday. That is what we will take on this week in worship!