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December 23 – Christmas

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

Thirty years ago, I bought a necklace from a mail-order catalog. After purchasing an abandoned warehouse, the new owners had found barrels and barrels of old, brightly colored, metal Cracker Jack charms and fashioned them into jewelry.

My youngest niece, Jackie, loved my Cracker Jack charm necklace as much as I did. I decided to wrap the necklace and give it to her for Christmas. When she opened her gift, she started crying because she loved it so much! 

Although Jackie is now a grown woman with two children of her own, I still remember that Christmas gift. My little niece's response was a sweet surprise to me.

In fact, that "gifting" spread to other parts of my life. I had a bunch of fun, pretty, silly, beautiful stuff that I planned to leave to my nieces. A few years ago, I realized I would rather they enjoy those things now. I started giving them the things I wanted them to have—beautiful quilts, lots of accessories and a few pieces of furniture.

Recently, I gave my oldest niece, Bridgette, a handmade rocking chair that my parents had given me on my 21st birthday. It made me feel great to know this rocker was going to a new generation and becoming a part of the history of our family. Maybe in another 40 years it will get passed on to a new family member!

Sharing at Christmas—and throughout the year—is a way to honor Jesus, the greatest gift. When we give, we shine the light of Christ and brighten someone's life.

 — Carol Terry, whose birthday is Dec. 25, is a member of Bellevue United Methodist Church, Nashville, Tennessee

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, guide us at Christmas and every day to shine a light of hope for those who walk in the darkness of despair. Thank you for the gift of the Christ-child. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Fourth Sunday of Advent – God of all good things: This morning, as we draw closer to the blessed birth, we remember Mary and how your blessings come to the world in the most unexpected ways and often through the most unprepared people. Give us eyes this day to see the wealth of ways you have blessed us and the opportunities you have placed before us to be an unexpected blessing to others. Use the gifts we bring to you this morning to bless those who need the good news the most. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who gave in love all there was to give for us. Amen.(Micah 5:2-5a)(Luke 1:39-55)

Newsletter Nugget
For those who started the Methodist Church in America, Christmas Eve 1784 was the first of 10 days of serious church business.

John Wesley had sent Thomas Coke to ordain Francis Asbury and appoint him superintendent of a new Methodist Church in the United States. Asbury and Coke called a special conference for all Methodist preachers in the United States.

Based on the journals of those present and the Discipline they produced, historians can piece together much of what happened during the Christmas Conference at Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore. Twelve lay preachers were elected and ordained as elders. Wesley's Sunday Service, a forerunner of today's Book of Worship, was approved for use in the new church.

When the conference concluded, Asbury wrote, "We spent the whole week in conference, debating freely, and determining all things by a majority of votes. We were in great haste, and did much business in a little time."

— Joe Iovino (adapted from story, Dec. 12, 2017)

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