umcgiving

December 1 – First Sunday of Advent/World Aids Day

A Moment for Mission

"The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light." —Romans 13:12, NRSV

Have you ever been lost? I mean, really lost?

I yelled for my nine-year-old daughter to "hurry up" so we could go do some catching. I had visions of walleyes running through my head. I was in such a hurry that I left the map of the lake behind. My second mistake was not paying attention to the shoreline as I headed toward a distant rocky point I had spotted as the float plane was landing. The third mistake was leaving that spot in search of more fish.

As we went from point to point and cove to cove, I got turned around. If you have ever been in the Canadian wilderness, you will know that it is all rocky points and pine trees. No marker poles, no signs, no buoys, nothing to distinguish one cove from another. I was lost!

Emily said, "Daddy I'm going to pray to Jesus for help." I wanted to say, "What do you think I've been doing?" I listened to her simple prayer. "Dear Jesus, help my daddy because he is lost. Amen."

Advent is a time for remembering the gift of the child who came to save us. It is a time of preparing our hearts to celebrate that Emmanuel is still with us, of rejoicing because his light still overcomes and vanquishes all darkness and of surrendering to the One who came to "seek and to save the lost."

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, in this season of Advent, help us to lay aside the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light. Joy to the world! Jesus is coming! In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: First Sunday in Advent — God of mercy and hope, we bring our gifts this morning as we prepare our lives for the gift of the Christ Child. We come reflecting on his past coming to a poor family of refugees, born as they spent the night in a stable in Bethlehem. We know there are gifts to come, although we don't know when he will return, and so we live in that hope. As we dedicate these tithes and offerings to you, we long for him to be born in our hearts again, this year, in this holy season. In the name of the one who came to save us, we pray. Amen. (Matthew 24:36-44)

Newsletter Nugget
The Bible says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray." God sent Emmanuel into the world to dwell among us because we all need a guide to provide direction. Sad to say, but some folks do not believe that they are lost or that others are spiritually lost. As a result, we have not been motivated with a sense of urgency in sharing the gospel.

The Christmas season is a time for celebrating and rejoicing because light has come into our dark world to show us the way out of our state of lost-ness.

When my daughter Emily and I became lost during our fishing adventure, she gave me a wonderful gift through a simple prayer. Ask Jesus for help. Jesus came to save us and to provide a way to reach our eternal destination. Jesus came bringing light, hope, peace and joy.

Because of God's gift to the world, "I once was lost, but now I am found!"

 — Adapted from "Jesus came to seek and save the lost" blog by Bishop Frank Beard, Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference, Dec. 12, 2016