A BLESSED NEW YEAR
At this time of the year my nostalgic thoughts often go back to my childhood. Although I was an only a child, we shared the same yard with five other young cousins. My two uncles and their families lived in a two family dwelling and we lived in a small house in the back. New Year’s Eve was when we all got together to “welcome in the New Year.” My parents and I would be the last to be there since we attended a New Year’s Eve worship service first.
The evening consisted of playing games like Monopoly, Sorry, or Canasta until midnight. At midnight it was traditional to make a lot of noise. We would have noisemakers and my uncles would shoot a gun or two in the back yard. Everyone would hug and kiss and wish each other “Happy New Year” after which we would have sandwiches, etc., talk a little and go back to our own homes around one or two A.M. This was in the distant past.
This year is far removed from family parties and get-togethers due to the pandemic.
But, the New Year of 2021 is certainly upon us as we anticipate what it may bring. As God’s people in Christ, we certainly want to trust in Him to be with us and know we have His promise of strength and peace. With that hope, I share with you a song/ prayer that I wrote:
A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR
We ask you, Lord, for Your blessings in the new year.
Keep us and all we love within Your grace,
Guide us as we live to Your great glory,
Until we meet with Jesus face to face.
We don’t know what the New Year will bring us,
Whether joy or sorrow, hope or despair,
But we know that you will always be with us.
You promised we can cast on You our care,
Because of Jesus’ dying and His rising
Our sins have all been washed away.
Eternity’s been promised for the faithful
And we will go to live with Him someday.
Although we often fail to love, or remember
To follow Your guidance and Your will.
In repentance we can turn back to Your love,
And Your grace opens up to us still.
All glory to the Father, Son and Spirit,
All glory to the great Three in One.
All we ask for in the New Year
In great faith, Thy will be done.
Rev. James W. Rhiver, Pastor
REMEMBER THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
Sunday, November 29th is the first Sunday of advent which means the celebration of our Lord’s birth is only four weeks after that. So what preparations are you making to celebrate? What, not as many this year because of the pandemic? Maybe not as many family get-togethers? For the first time in our family our table will not be complete for Christmas dinner, since one daughter lives in Arkansas and the risk of spreading the virus is great right now. Maybe for some it will promote a deeper meaning of what Christmas is all about – that “baby Jesus” was born in Bethlehem.
Think about it! Jesus’ birth also included some inconveniences. Mary was almost nine months pregnant when she and Joseph had to make that trek to Bethlehem. Today the trip would not be much, about 100 miles, but then it meant walking. Artists have pictured them having a donkey for Mary, but there’s no mention of this in Scripture. There was a crowded Bethlehem, no rooms left for travelers. What’s left—a stable, possibly a cave? Scripture doesn’t say. It was many years later that St. Francis of Assisi displayed the baby in a stable. Scripture says that the baby was “laid in a manger” following His birth. Mangers were not only in stables, some were along the street or behind a house.
The most important words of the narration of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2) is found in the words of the angel to those lowly shepherds in the hills around Bethlehem: “Today in the town of David (Bethlehem) a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord,” (NIV)
In that brief sentence of the angels is the assured joy of Christmas – the fulfillment of all the O.T. prophecies. He was God’s fulfillment of His promised Messiah, who would grant salvation to all mankind, so that whoever believes in Him has eternal life.
Some traditions may have to be curtailed, some visits may not happen, but God provided the true miracle of Christmas - Jesus. Take the time to call a friend. Call someone you haven’t seen. Attend church if possible or watch a service on-line. We plan to have a Christmas Day service at 10:30 a.m. (masks and spacing) and on our web page at:
faithwashingtonmo.blogspot.com Above all else praise God, Who became incarnate (in flesh) for you so you can have His peace in your heart as we face the problems of this world. He will strengthen your hopes and bless you with true joy as you remember the purpose of His coming. Merry Christmas to each of you. -- Rev. James W. Rhiver. Pastor
Season’s Schedule: (Masks and Spacing maintained)
Sunday mornings – 10:30 -- Special Advent Services (Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 13 & 20)
Friday, Dec. 25th --10:30 a.m. -- Christmas Day Worship