Thursday, November 28, 2013

Advent 2013 at Pleasant Street United Methodist Church

"A Life-Giving Christmas"

Have you ever woken up the day after Christmas feeling like you missed it? That with all the craziness (shopping, parties, cooking, family visits, etc.,) you just didn’t get the experience you had hoped for?

For those searching for deeper meaning this Christmas, we are offering an Advent program entitled “A Life-Giving Christmas”. We’ll explore the fuller meaning of the season and rethink what it is we truly want on our “wish lists”. We’ll widen the lens, focus on the real, the authentic, the things that really matter and the true gift of the season – life. And not just any life – rich, meaningful life in Jesus Christ. Hope, peace, joy and love are not just candles to be lit around an Advent wreath – they are facets of a living Christ to be ignited in our lives and our community. 

Join us for worship and discussion opportunities. Watch for messages via Facebook and Twitter, and be a part of conversations on our website forum. Get involved in Advent activities and share mutual prayer support. Take home a “Family Faith ADVENTures” guide for children and keep Advent as a family. Participate in “outbound challenges” that reach out into the community. This year we invite you to experience “A Life-giving Christmas”!

December 1
First Sunday of Advent:
“Hope…Next Year Things Will Be Different!”
Putting our Christmas list in perspective; seeking God first.
Scriptural Focus: Romans 13:11-14
Discussion Group on Sunday at 9:15 AM or Wednesday at 6:00 PM

December 8
Second Sunday of Advent:
“Peace…Strength to Hold On”
Focusing on Jesus; finding peace.
Scriptural Focus: Matthew 3:11-12
Discussion Group on Sunday at 9:15 AM or Wednesday at 6:00 PM

December 15
Third Sunday of Advent:
“Joy…To Get Me Through the Tough Days”
Celebrating God’s promises; discovering joy.
Scriptural Focus: Isaiah 35:1-10
Discussion Group on Sunday at 9:15 AM or Wednesday at 6:00 PM
(Note: No sermon at the 10:30 service – Christmas Pageant)
Christmas Dinner following the 10:30 service

December 22
Fourth Sunday of Advent:
“Love…Gotta Have It”
Discovering the essence of life; giving and receiving love.
Scriptural Focus: Romans 1:1-7
Discussion Group on Sunday at 9:15 AM 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Looking Toward Sunday

"Counting Our Blessings"

Thanksgiving Sunday
November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving is just around the corner - a special day to set aside time to count our blessings and give thanks to God.  

On this Sunday before Thanksgiving we'll be taking a look at a passage from the Gospel of John. (You can read it here) The day after Jesus turned a little boy's lunch into enough food for 5,000 people, a crowd follows Jesus across the Sea of Galilee in hopes of another meal. Jesus tells them, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free. Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides." Jesus notes that the crowd is hoping for something material rather than spiritual. They're seeking a gift (free lunch), but Jesus is offering them a blessing (divine presence).

Have you ever given any thought to whether there's a difference between God's gifts to us and God's blessings - between the material things that God provides (food, shelter, warm clothing, etc.) and the spiritual benefits that come from a life with God (peace, joy, comfort, etc.)? While we should surely give thanks for both gifts and blessings, which of the two is more important to you? Which do you think should be? Which will you be counting on Thanksgiving Day?

Join us on Sunday as we ponder these questions and offer thanks and praise to our generous God, "from whom all blessings flow".

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Looking Toward Sunday

"Doomsday Preppers"

November 17, 2013
26th Sunday after Pentecost

The National Geographic Channel features a popular show called "Doomsday Preppers", which explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. These people go to great lengths to build bunkers, gather weapons, stockpile food, and devise systems (some quite ingenious) to ensure their long-term survival should they need to "bug out" at the onset of catastrophic war, the collapse of the world economy, mass insurrection, or other doomsday event. They wait and watch carefully for signs of the beginning of the end, secure in the knowledge that they're ready.

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus' followers once asked him about the timeline for The End and the indicators that everything was about to hit the fan.  (You can read the passage here)  But Jesus' instructions for doomsday prepping are very different from the folks on the TV show. He says that the best way to be ready is not to be ready! What could he have meant, and what does it have to say to us in the 21st century?  Join us as we explore doomsday prepping, Christian style.

See you on Sunday!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Looking Toward Sunday

"Saving Zacchaeus"

November 10, 2013

"Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he."  

If you attended Sunday School as a child, you're probably familiar with that little ditty about the character in Luke 19:1-10 (you can read it here).  Poor Zacchaeus - despised, sneered at, and made fun of by his neighbors in Jericho - and by every generation of Christians since Luke first recorded the story. 

What do we really know about Zacchaeus? Does he deserve his reputation as an infamous racketeer who got fabulously rich by extorting his fellow Jews? Or might he have been a victim of people's mistaken presumptions about him? Was he greedy or generous? A bully or bullied? Berated by Jesus or befriended by him?  If Zacchaeus wasn't the sinner that the townsfolk supposed him to be, then what did Jesus mean when he said, "Today salvation has come to this house"?

Join us on Sunday as we take an unconventional look at this familiar story.