December 22 – Fourth Sunday of Advent/Preview: Christmas Day (Dec 25)

A Moment for Mission

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined." —Isaiah 9:2, NRSV

When I was a child, my mother told me a story about when she was young and had found a wrapped present with her name on it. Rather than wait until Christmas, she carefully pulled the tape off the wrapping paper and opened the present. Inside she found a sweater she wanted. She carefully put the sweater back into the box and rewrapped the gift. When Christmas came, there was no sweater. Her mother realized that she had opened the present and took the sweater back to the store. They never spoke of it again.

Fast-forward many years. When I was young, I wanted a cobalt-blue record player. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. By the time Christmas rolled around, I was so excited I couldn't sleep. Around 4 a.m., I stumbled into the living room where my mom was wrapping presents and listening to Christmas music. Through my sleepy eyes, I saw the cobalt-blue record player and a Marie Osmond Paper Roses album. I covered my eyes and started crying because I had seen the gift. I begged my mom not to take it back to the store.

My mother hugged me and handed me the album, and we listened to it until my brothers woke up to celebrate Christmas together. Although my mom died when I was young, that memory has carried me through many Christmases without her and helped me become the mom I am today.

—Kay Panovec, director of communications, West Ohio Annual Conference

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, thank you for sending Jesus, the light of the world. Teach us to share the light of Christ's love at Christmas and every day of the year. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Fourth Sunday in Advent — Giver of all good gifts, bless the offering we make this morning, a small token to all the blessings you have poured down on us. Into our human weakness, you gave the greatest gift of all: Emmanuel, your presence with us, in Jesus the Christ. Not just a presence, but an invitation: through him, to be your children and heirs to your Kingdom. May our gifts, hymns, prayers, and promises help us realize that Kingdom in our hearts and in our world. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. (Matthew 1:18-25)

Newsletter Nugget
"This little light of mine, I'm goin'a let it shine."

We sing those words, but do we live them? Consider these ideas for sharing Jesus, the light of the world:

  • Invite a child to create a Christmas gift with you. Together, share it with someone you encounter often—a librarian, a police officer or another community helper.
  • Make a prayer jar and fill it with names of people you love. Draw a few names each day to include in prayer.
  • Stay up late on Christmas Eve to gather your loved ones and join the church family in a candlelight service.
  • Offer a cup of hot chocolate to someone who works outdoors.
  • Visit someone who might feel lonely at Christmas and bring a goody bag of healthy snacks, a pocket book of word games and a personal note.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus encourages his followers to "let your light shine before people" (CEB). Share your faith, not only at Christmas, but every day of the year!

—"This Little Light of Mine," Afro-American spiritual (UMH 585)