A weekly newsletter from United Methodist Church of Lenox
A NOTE FROM THE PASTOR
God, as the shepherds of old
we make the journey
to see the thing that has taken place
the thing that has been made known to us.
We make haste to find the one
about whom the angels sing —
the one who came
the one who still comes
as good news to
the lonely and the hollow,
the heartbroken and the angry,
the homeless and the hungry,
the poor and the affluent,
the hopeless and the fearful,
all made in your image.
God, like the angel who said,
“Do not be afraid: for see —
I am bringing you good news of great joy,”
like the angel who spoke to shepherds,
let us announce the good news
write it on a card,
email it to a hurting soul,
pray it with a grief-stricken neighbor
sing it into fear,
love it into the unlovely,
like the angel,
let us make it known!
Through the love of God
the grace of Jesus the Christ
and in the power of the Holy Spirit,
so may we hear and tell
what has been made known to us
and sing with the angels,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
A Christmas message from Bishop Devadhar
Beloved in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Charles Wesley’s hymn, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is based on Luke’s account of the angel’s announcement of good news to shepherds— shepherds, who had no formal education or social standing, who were terrified by the appearance of the angel, shepherds who upon receiving the angel’s message went with haste to Bethlehem to see what had taken place.
When they arrived they found Mary, Joseph, and the baby. They made known what was told to them by the angel, and all who heard were amazed. Mary treasured and pondered their words in her heart, and the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God. (Luke 2:16-20)
Due to COVID-19 and other challenges, Christmas celebrations will be different in many ways this year: no big parties, fewer family members at the table, limited travel, different ways of doing Christmas Eve candlelight services. Some have lost family members and/or friends throughout this year.
In “Celebrating in the Pandemic,” Anne Lamott writes: “The meaning of this pandemic is that we are all vulnerable and connected. We are in this together, spanning the globe, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, pagans, Christians, atheists. This is so much bigger than the virus, because love and caring are bigger than anything - even, or especially, suffering.” (Anne Lamott, “Celebrating in the Pandemic,” National Geographic, December 2020, p. 20).
In the midst of all this, angels — messengers of God, continue to descend upon our lives.
I experienced such an event when I was serving a local church and received a call from a parishioner stating there had been a gun accident in their neighborhood. When I arrived at the house of the accident, the husband and son were understandably distraught.
The husband had been getting ready to go hunting and did not realize the gun's safety was not on. It fired accidentally as he was saying goodbye, and his wife was killed on the spot. You can imagine the deep pain and helplessness.
Honestly, I did not know how to simultaneously comfort the grieving husband and teen-aged son. Immediately, a voice whispered to me, “Call one of the saints of the church who is also a trusted leader.” I called this person who worked in the guidance office of the local high school. In minutes, two guidance counselors arrived and began working as a team to help this family.
Naturally, this doctor’s faith and compassion were tested! Though I leave you to reach your own decision on this transformational story, as far as I am concerned, angels of God were silently whispering to Dr. Nichols about what to do and how to respond.
Angels come to us in various forms: as an enemy seeking forgiveness and help, as a child speaking truth, as a person with different skin color or accent from our own, as someone whose theology is diametrically opposed to ours. Are we able to listen to them even though they prick our conscience, disrupt our comfort, or make us afraid?
Beloved in Christ, may we hear again the angel’s message. May our holy listening lead to holy action, so through us or in spite of us, God may be glorified and praised!
Prema joins me in wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas!
In Christ's love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
Christmas Eve Worship Service at 6pm via Zoom
What are some great things to do for Christmas Eve? Open a gift? Watch a special Christmas movie? Why don’t you join our virtual worship service via Zoom? You will be able to enjoy great songs!! The messengers and Diane filmed a wonderful music video in the sanctuary!! Come and join us to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus!! Don't forget to wear red clothes or accessories.
The Christmas Sing Along Worship Service on 27th viz Zoom at 10am
As the Contemporary worship service of December, Tom Cairns, worship band leader, is going to have everyone pick no more than 5 of your favorite Christmas Songs and the ones chosen the most and If Tom can play that song, he could do it during the worship service. he wants to do just something different and also letting everyone be involved in the worship service.please email your favorite Christmas Hymns to Tom Cairns ( firstname.lastname@example.org) It doesn't need to come from the United Methodist Hymns. It could be any modern hymns that you would like him to play during the worship service.
John Allen will give us a testimony on Hebrew 11:1-6 and also utilize Psalm 148. Let's pray for Tom and John who will prepare and lead the worship service in absence of Pastor.
Holiday Office Hours
Pastor will be on vacation starting December 25th through January 1st returning January 2nd. If you need immediate assistance during her absence, please call 413-442-6314. Otherwise she will respond to your emails as soon as possible upon her return.
Kathy, administration assistant will be not working on Friday as Christmas Holidays. and She will be working her regular office hours the next week.
Weekly Church Calendar
There will be NO Sunday book study( 12/27) and Wed bible study (12/30) for the next week. It will be resumed in the new year!!
Our Christmas Donations have delivered well!!
The mission team counted hats 64 and mittens 64 scarves 14 separated and going to Lenox Community Center plus 2 throws and 50 socks. Another box will go to the Salvation Army and another to Officer Darren Derby at Pittfiled Office Department plus 1 coat to Lenox Community center.
The missions team last Monday delivered 14 sets of sheets and 14 blankets to the women's veterans.
*Cookbook is still available for Christmas Gift*
FROM THE HOSPITALITY COMMITTEE
If you're looking for a holiday gift for family or friends, we still have our "Salvation From Hunger" cookbooks for sale. The books can be purchased at the church, during office hours (Tues & Fri 11am - 2pm) or call the office (445-5918) and we can arrange to put them in the mail. The books are $16.50.
If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact Judy Upton at email@example.com or 201-394-8331.
Congregational Prayer Concern
*Doug Upton: ask your prayer for Judy Upton. She has a torn retinal and is going in for surgery the next Monday. She has some pain but bearable. she is going to be relatively immobile with head. This also means that her recovery prevents them from moving until spring. They saw a doctor today and please pray for Judy's succeful surgery and quick recovery. also we hope her pain is not too severe so she can be doing well during the holidays.
Pledge envelope is ready to pick up
Pledge Envelope for the new year is ready to pick up at the church. It’s placed at the pew between the inside door and outside door at church entry. You can come anytime to pick it up. If you are not able to pick up at the church, please contact Diane Chicoine (firstname.lastname@example.org / 358-2520) so we will mail it to you.
Merry Christmas (almost), UMCL beloveds -
When 2020 began could any of us have foreseen where we would find ourselves today? How drastically life would change, or how our priorities would shift? 2020 has certainly been quite a year of difficulty and loss. There have been days, wells, months of difficulty on so many levels for so many people. We all are holding one another in the grief and sadness that many of you are experiencing. We are indeed living in unprecedented times. This pandemic has disrupted so much of our lives and forced us to let go of things perhaps we were unprepared to let go of. This has been hard for all of us.
And yet - God is with us and God is so good! This strange moment in our history as a people of faith has given us new ways to be in connection with one another and with our communities. As I enter into my 3rd Christmas season with the United Methodist Church of Lenox, I find that I am excited for what will come. We have seen folks creatively forging ahead on their faith journeys. We have entered into the digital age without missing a beat and now share our congregations virtually with folks from all over the state, the nation, and the world! our church families are proving themselves to be incredibly adaptable, flexible, brave, and resilient. We have embraced high tech ministry to all our people and communities. We have become more aware of the needs of our folks to remain connected especially when technology is not available. We are loving one another from afar in order to truly love our neighbors and keep us all safe. This is a new age of Church and Christianity and we are at the forefront!
However, true to the “2020” way, this year has been rough while simultaneously a year of creativity and joy - and it is not even over yet! I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but if you’re like me you are bracing for the worst and hoping for the best. It’s moments like these that remind me of the importance of the season we celebrate and the wisdom found in the Gospel of John: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). No matter where we find ourselves along this journey called life, God is always breaking through in amazing ways, always shining brightly, always lighting our paths and remaining steadfast in Love, Peace, Hope, and Joy.
My prayer for us all is that we do not lose sight of this bright light. That we hold on to that Advent Love, Peace, Hope, and Joy. That we do not give up, throwing our hands up and walking away from our churches or our faith. The beauty of being church - of being part of the body of Christ - is that when we do anything, we do it together. When some are feeling tired and unable to carry on, others are able to help carry the load. When some experience anxiety or fear of the future, others are there to light the way with hope and love. When we wonder who we are as a people and a church in this brave, new world, we do it as a family, connected by love. This is only possible when we allow ourselves to be present with one another, with God, and with our own spirits - and truly BE the church.
How can we do that beyond the walls of our congregations? Especially when we are unable to gather in person, to visit each other? Stay connected with your people and your pastor. Remember not to underestimate the value of your presence (online), service, prayers, witness, and giving/pledging. We need each other more than ever before. Please reach out to each other and encourage one another. Check in regularly with one another and stay alert when folks seem ready to give up hope. Just as important - reach out for help when you need it. We are all in the same storm, just different boats - so send up a flare when you need to and let’s weather the storm together.
It is my joy and blessing to be your pastor. We have come so far together and I am ready to take on 2021 because of your presence in my life. May the light and celebration of Christmas carry us into the New Year with excitement and anticipation - and may we do it together!