There is a tendency in our culture to domesticate the birth of Jesus. We make everything sweet and nice, and forget the rugged conditions of the barn, the animals, the shepherds, the hay trough (manger), and the woman who was too young to be a mother. We may easily forget the concerns of Joseph as we celebrate the lovely story. As we reflect on the Christmas story told only by Luke, let us remember the rough conditions and the many poor of our world today who suffer want as they wait and hope for a chance at a better life.
Retell the Scripture Story
Matthew is the only gospel writer who tells of the wise men who came to worship Jesus bringing their gifts from afar. It is very interesting to me how each gospel writer focuses on a different aspect of the story. In the four canonic gospels we begin to get a fuller picture of the Christ child. The gospel lesson appointed for reading on Christmas Day is John 1:1-14. Listen to how the writer of John tells the story:
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him;
and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of all.
And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light,
that all through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lights everyone that comes into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him,
and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him,
to them gave he power to become the children of God,
even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,
nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)
full of grace and truth.
In The Mystical Way in the Fourth Gospel William Countryman writes: In creating his gospel, John was balancing at least three structural concerns: (1) to preserve the outward form of a “life” of Jesus; (2) to detail, beneath this surface form, the believer’s path toward mystical union; (3) to offer a theology that would make sense of the two. Professor Countryman, now retired from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, started studying Greek when he was only sixteen years old. He served as an Episcopal priest before becoming a professor. He was one of the people who was important to me as I made my way out of the fundamentalism of my childhood into what I think of as mainstream Christianity. We are on a journey into union. Jesus is our guide. It is a long journey, but we are not alone.
In John 1:14 we have the amazing statement: The Word (Logos) was made flesh and dwelt (pitched a tent) among us. Jesus lived on earth for a short time, about thirty-three years, we are told. He didn’t build a house, but he pitched a tent with us. He walked the streets, preaching and healing as he touched the people around him. As John tells the story, the eternal Word became flesh for a brief time. We, too, are here for a short time. We have many opportunities to love, to give, and to serve. Thanks be to God for these opportunities. Thanks be to God for those people who are generous and kind. Thanks be to God for those who seek justice and peace each day. Like Jesus, we, too, can be the Word made flesh in our time. Share the good news.
Let us be in prayer.
Joys and Concerns
Lauren McLeod welcomes your prayers for healing.
Sandra Kokoruda (Fran Smith’s daughter) up date: Sandra is at home with Visiting Nurse assistance. Please keep her in your prayers for healing.She thanks us all for our prayers. Fran Smith is off to visit Sandra this week.
Molly Smith is requesting prayers for her brother who has been treated for a brain tumor for several years and has recently entered the Hospice program. Prayers for his family and her brother as they go through this very difficult time.
Deby McFadyen is asking for prayers for her father, Jack McFadyen, who has lung cancer. Currently he is doing well.
Pat Dornan and Linda Pereira continue to need your prayers of support and healing. Pat is inviting people to pop in and say “Hello”. Linda is sad and needs some different faces to cheer her up.
Robbie Robinson would appreciate your prayers.
Helen Wysham welcomes your prayers for healing as she undergoes chemotherapy.
Please keep the people of Camp Liberty in your prayers as chaos reigns in Iraq and near the camp.
Our annual Bake and Crafts Sale was a huge success! The Bake Sale made over $900 which will go to the church general budget. That is the most we have made! We ran out of food and closed down early. The Crafts sold over $400 and that money goes to our United Methodist Women. We can’t thank all of you who crafted and or baked and helped at the sale enough. Pat Dornan always deserves special kudos for the lovely wrapping of cookie plates for people to buy. She was especially happy because of the large variety of cookies to choose from. As always the homemade pies flew out of here. Diane Frary and Mary Lee Coles’s jewelry items were big sellers. Our thanks to Pastor Dan for schlepping tables, putting up signs and moving the sandwich boards for us. Also thank you to our staff who manned the tables: Mid Dornan, Fran Smith, Doreen Leighton, Barbara Haley and Pat Dornan.
Our Christmas Pageant was grand! Thank you to Tammara Plankers who made it possible. The quality of the singers was superb, the costumes were great and we had 12 angels in the Angel Choir! We enjoyed singing carols and the quality of Pastor Dan’s piano playing. Jennifer Metz Foster played the cello which added to the tonality of the music. We thank Robert Love who narrated the Christmas Story and all the Masquers friends who participated along with members from our Joyful Noise Choir. The star arose over Bethlehem as smooth as silk thanks to Bill Thompson. Barbara Haley wishes to thank all the food contributors for refreshments after the pageant.
Christmas Eve Jazz Service was precious & beautiful as ever – Angel Choir with strong voices & radiant beams glowing from their faces, all soloists with magically beautiful voices & the quartet so jazzy & strong. Pastor Dan read The Christmas Story sharing that our church family lost our Dear Liam this year (with audible gasps by those who didn’t know), loving tears shed by many who heard Liam’s soft clear voice in the reading. We are So Blessed to share this time together. Thank You Pastor Dan. Submitted by Linda Andrew-Marshall.
Don’t forget that donations for Imagine No Malaria are always welcome.
We delivered our collection of disposable diapers to the Richmond Childhood Mental Health Program before Christmas. They were pleased to receive them and they have many needy families who will benefit from your generosity. Thank you to all who contributed.
Thursday, January 8, 7 pm, Administrative Board Meeting in Friendship Hall. All are welcome.
Friday, January 9, 7:30 pm, Point Richmond Acoustic Presents Noctambule. Marla Fibish and Bruce Victor present a variety of music from original instrumentals to traditional Irish songs played on a variety of musical instruments. Their music is rendered with lush beauty, sensitivity and humor. Special guests Kyle Alden and Susan Spurlock open the show with their original songs. Tickets are $15 on line and $20 at the door. First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Point Richmond. pracoustic.org
Friday, January 9, 6 pm Easter Hill UMC United Methodist Women are presenting missionary Carol Partridge. Carol has been the Director of Christian Education in Macedonia for the past fifteen years. Carol will speak about her experiences and show some videos. Please contact Arinel Greene at 510 223 4226 if you plan to attend. There will be light refreshments so they would like to know how many people are attending. There will be an offering to support Carol’s work if you care to donate. Easter Hill UMC, 3911 Cutting Blvd., Richmond.
Saturday, January 10, 7:30 pm the Palomarin Chamber Music Foundation presents “A Musical Offering” to welcome in the new year. This is an intimate chamber music concert featuring the music of Bach, Telemann and Martinu. Yael Ronen, flute, George Hayes, violin and Burke Schuchmann, cello. Suggested donations $20, Seniors $15 and children $5. For more information about Palomarin: http://www.palomarin.org/ First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Point Richmond..