December 2019 Newsletter
A Message from the Pastor:
Dear Friends in Christ,
There’s an old legend about Zacchaeus, the little man who climbed a tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). The tall tale says Zacchaeus went every day outside the city of Jericho carrying a bucket of water. No matter what kind of day he was having, he took a minute out of his day to go somewhere with the bucket. One day, his wife followed him, wondering what this daily ritual was all about. She saw him stop at a certain tree, a sycamore tree, the very tree he had climbed the day he met Jesus. The curious woman watched her husband as he poured the bucket of water on the tree’s thirsty roots and then stood back reverently looking up into the tree in an act of prayer. She knew her husband well and knew how his life had been changed by the casual meeting with the man from Nazareth. But now, she saw something new about the man – she saw his devotion to the grace that had been bestowed on him by his daily visit to the sycamore tree. The tree had become his sacred space, his place of transformation and remembrance.
Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist, once said that all people need sacred spaces. He defined a sacred space as “a place where you can experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be, a place of creative incubation.” We do well when we, like Zacchaeus, find our sacred spaces or create them. Throughout history, people of faith have set up family altars, places that hold space for the family Bible and other heirlooms. These were sacred spaces. These were places for family prayer, places for experiencing what we are and what we might become, spaces for creative incubation and the sharing of stories of faith. Today, the family altar is gone in most homes, or it has become a dusty space rarely visited.
As we enter the holy seasons of Advent and Christmas, we will be worshiping around the theme of the ministry of angels. We will be praying for holy visitation upon our homes and the church. We will ask that God awaken our faith and bring holy presence among us in the closest of ways. Through this special time, we will gather to prepare our hearts to receive the glad tidings of joy at the celebration of the birth of our Savior.
As we prepare this month, I encourage you to consider creating a sacred space in your home, a room or space set apart where you may experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be, a place of creative incubation. Your sacred space will be as unique as you are. Each week, I also encourage you to visit God’s house of worship with your heart open, full of the intention to make Amazing Grace a communal sacred space. In this way, we will prepare ourselves to experience new birth at Christmas.
This holy season may God continue to bless you and yours with life changing encounters with the living God. May your life be filled to capacity with the diligent praise of Zacchaeus as you enter your sacred spaces with expectant shouts: “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Happy Advent and Merry Christmas,
Bible Study Continues in December
LUNCH AND LEARN continues in December from 12:00-1:00. We are studying The Revelation of John. Bring a bag lunch. We will not meet on December 24 and 31.
Angel Stories - Sermon Series for December 1-24
This December we invite you to journey with us as we explore the Word and listen to stories of angelic visitation. Often mystifying, these stories tell of heaven-sent creatures with messages for God’s people. As Christmas approaches, we think of the stories of the angels visiting Elizabeth, Zechariah and Mary. And who can forget the host of angels visiting the shepherds in the field? Angels abound in many of the season’s scriptures. Unfortunately, the world has lost much of its capacity for awe. Skepticism abounds concerning such strange encounters with the divine, even during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Too often, Bah Humbug rules the day! One wonders: Are we missing something when we dismiss these stories so easily? Commit to joining us each week in person or online! Open your heart to awe this Advent and Christmas! Come and discover the majesty that awaits you!
WEEK 1 (DEC. 1): TITLE: The Guardian
WEEK 2 (DEC. 8): TITLE: The Witness
WEEK 3 (DEC. 15): TITLE: The Vessel
WEEK 4: (DEC 22): TITLE: The Host
CHRISTMAS EVE (Dec. 24): TITLE: The Visitor
The Worship Team is planning to decorate the Worship Space on Saturday, November 30, at 10:00am. We can definitely use as much help as possible. If you can make it, even for an hour or so, please come lend a hand. If you are able and willing to help, please let Tim know (timbolick@ yahoo.com or 828-320-3655).
Granite Falls Christmas Parade
The youth and their advisers are asking for donations of candy for the Christmas parade on December 7. They also need volunteers to help decorate or ride/walk along with the youth to hand out candy the day of the event. See Jennifer Berry for additional information.
Congregational Christmas Lunch
Our congregational Christmas lunch will be held on Sunday, December 15, following worship. Come feed your spiritual soul and then your physical body with good food and enjoy fellowship as we begin our preparation for the birth of the Holy One. Meats provided. See Gail Wilcox for what else is needed for the lunch.
Youth Christmas Skit
The Youth will be presenting a Christmas Skit following our Christmas lunch on December 15. The kids will answer the question....."What Is Christmas?" Please plan to stay and support our youth and their leaders.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship
Our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service will be on December 24th at 7:00pm. Christmas is simply not Christmas without taking time to worship and honor the one whom we celebrate this season. The service will end with the lighting of candles symbolizing Christ light coming to us. Plan now to come on this the Holiest of Nights, Christmas Eve, as we once again experience the birth of our Savior. Invite someone to come with you.
Personal Care Kits
60 Personal Care Kits for Lutheran World Relief were wrapped and boxed and are ready for shipment to the LWR warehouse in New Windsor, MD. A big thank you to everyone who participated in making this project SO SUCCESSFUL!"
Yoga Ministry Christmas Open House
On Monday, December 23rd at 7:00pm. the Yoga/Qigong class will enjoy an evening of fun with no mat yoga/qigong, refreshments and door prizes. Bring a friend! Free Will Offerings fund area mission projects. Class Instructor Ellen Crider, E-RYT-500 Bep456@aol.com.
Church Church Council will meet December 9th at 7:00pm in the Annex.
The Prime Timers will have lunch on December 18th at 1:00pm at Sagebrush in Lenoir
Advent Calendar Basket
The Worship Team will again sponsor the Advent Calendar Basket project, which everyone is invited to participate in during the month of December. Each household will be given a basket and a list of items, one for each day in December. For example, Dec. 1 is a box of spaghetti; Dec. 2 is a box of macaroni; Dec. 3 is a bag of pinto beans; etc. Simply place the listed item in the basket each day as you count UP to Christmas! We've revised the list, so hopefully everything will fit in the basket this year and will be less heavy! Bring your basket on Christmas Eve (or before if you’ll be out of town) and place it under the tree. We will bless the items during the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and then provide them to South Caldwell Christian Ministries or use them in our hygiene kits. We hope everyone will participate and help us gather much needed items for members of our community.
Pastor’s Book Club Recommendation for December
NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible - Every once and a while someone asks for recommendations for selecting a study Bible. The marketplace appears to be filled with endless options with regard to this type of material. The plethora of options can seem overwhelming. The challenge of Bible selection generally comes down to the matter of understanding the scriptures, being able to make sense of the ancient material without the need of graduate degrees in biblical studies. Enter the new NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible by Zondervan Publishing! This ecumenical edition of the scriptures comes packed with background material to aid the serious Bible reader in making sense of ancient references not familiar to modern readers. In contrast to some academic study Bibles geared toward professional biblical scholars, the resource material provided here, though technically rich and accurate, is expressed in language accessible to most readers. Solid scholarship in sync with ecumenical perspectives on the Word of God! Expressed for the common reader! A winning combination! On sale at Amazon for $33.84! ($49.99 regular price.)
Thank You to the Fellowship Committee for planning and hosting our Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving lunch.
Thank You to the planning committee and all the volunteers for helping to make Hillabillooza a very successful event. We plan to do it again next year.
Phyllis would like to thank each of you for your prayers, cards and concerns following my automobile accident. Also a special thanks to Paula Laxton who was my left arm in the office while I was recuperating from a broken left arm and surgery.
Please plan to come often to the Yoga/Qigong combination exercise class every Monday from 7:00 – 7:45pm! It’s designed to relax, restore or invigorate and is for all ages and body types. Leave feeling great! No prior experience or special props required. A Free Will Offering is collected with 100% funding going to Amazing Grace. Class is taught by Amazing Grace member Ellen Crider, Yoga Therapist.
Pastor Frank, the Church Council, and Phyllis would like to wish each of you a safe, wonderful and blessed Christmas