Keeping Christ in Christmas
By Pastor Manny
This time of year it has become common to read or hear the words, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” This phrase usually just means, don’t write “X-Mas”, don’t say “holiday tree”, and make sure you talk about Jesus more than Santa. But is that all it takes to keep Christ in Christmas?
In the Church, Advent is meant to mark a time in the year where we remember the first time God broke through the cosmic barrier to become one of us; where we recognize the impact that this had on history, creation, and our very lives; and where we respond with actions that support the words we sing, say, and recite every Sunday throughout the year. All the while looking forward to the completion of God’s work during the Second Advent.
That’s what it is supposed to mean, but does it really mean that to you? Do you find yourself truly reflecting on the impact that God’s infiltration of the world has had, not just on history, but also on your life? Do you truly worship the God of the universe who made Himself nothing so that you can have everything? What does that worship look like? Is it truly a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God”?
I wonder what Advent would be like if we recognized our ability to actively wait?
What if waiting was more than doing nothing until someone else does something?
Keeping Christ in Christmas is easy when we recognize our ability to participate in His work. Christ dwells with us, He is IN us. Christ is already in Christmas, but are we doing what we can to show others that reality?
I want to encourage you to BE the things you are waiting for this Advent season, and carry it with you into the New Year.
Be Hope in a hopeless world.
Be Peace in a chaotic and broken world.
Be Joy in a dejected and unhappy world.
Be Love in a world that is unfamiliar with unconditional love.
Keep Christ in Christmas by being His hands, feet, mouth, and heart to someone who doesn’t know Him.
We have been gifted, called, and released to do more than passively wait. We can be incarnational because Christ dwells with us and in us!
This Christmas season will you do more than wait? Will you keep Christ in Christmas?
“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
–Steve Maraboli from Unapologetically You:
Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
Remember in Prayer
~Missionaries serving overseas, away from
their families during the holidays.
~College students preparing for & taking
final exams before semester break.
~Those families adopted for Christmas &
the many who were not adopted.
~Jonathan House Orphanage in Sierra
Leone, caring for many children whose
parents have died from Ebola
-Mesquakie Friends & Union Food Box, the
recipients of our White Gift Offering.
Youth “Thanksmas” Dinner
All Sr. High and Jr. High youth are reminded of the annual “Thanksmas” Dinner at Kris & Amber Smitherman’s home on Saturday, December 13th from 5:30-8:00 pm. Youth are reminded to bring a white elephant gift for an exchange.
On Sunday, December 14th we will take a special offering to be given to the Iowa Yearly Meeting Pastor’s Association to bless our Iowa Yearly Meeting staff at Christmas. Our YM staff includes Ron Bryan, Scott Biddle, Mary Thury, Spencer Thury, Chip and Alicia Daleske, and Deneen Ahumada. Please make your check out to BLFC and designate it for “IAYM Staff Christmas” or place your cash offering in the gold envelopes in the pews.
Options for receiving the “Bell”
In January BLF Church will begin emailing the bulk of our newsletters out to those of you on our mailing list, providing we receive your email address! Those in our congregation may opt to have their copy placed in their communication box. If you wish to receive a printed copy in the mail, we ask that you please contact us by mail, phone or email no later than December 29. Our contact information is printed on the back page of this newsletter.
If we do not hear from you, your name will be dropped from our Bell address list.
Youth Group Schedule
Jr. High Youth meet @ 6:30-7:30 pm - Wednesdays
Sr. High Youth meet @ 12:30 pm - Sundays
Food Box News
We usually collect food items the last Sunday of each month to be given to the food pantry located at the Community Church in Union. For the last Sunday of December and January only we will be collecting the following items for the food pantry: toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, hand soap, laundry detergent and similar items. They usually have a good supply of canned and boxed food items but have need for the items listed above.
Like Old Music?
We’ve cleared out a lot of older music from some file cabinets here at the church. This includes copies of Easter and Christmas cantatas, miscellaneous choral series and sheet music. Lots of music used with our church choirs. Some of this music is dated clear back into the 1930s and 1940s. Check out the boxes in the fellowship hall if you’d be interested and take what you want. It’s all free. Or call the church office and let us know you’d like to look at the music or know of someone who would be interested.
Our Monthly Potluck meal will be held on Sunday, December 14th with Loren Peter’s Sunday School class hosting. The youth and children will go thru the line first so they can eat and go to Christmas Eve program practice.
Come Caroling with us!
All ages are encouraged to join us for an evening of Christmas caroling on Sunday, December 14th. We will meet at the church at 4:30 pm to divide into groups to go out and carol to our neighbors. elderly friends, and others who might be unable to venture out this season. If you know of someone we could visit and carol to please give their name & address to John Good. We will meet back at the church afterwards for a time of fellowship over a soup supper.
Christmas Eve Service
Everyone is invited to gather at Bangor Liberty on Christmas Eve at 6:00 p.m. to celebrate Jesus’ birth during the annual children’s program and candle lighting service. The White Gift offering collected Christmas Eve will be shared between the Union Food Box and the Mesquakie Friends Church.
The Union Food Box is housed in the Community Church and open the third Tuesday of each month, as well as when emergency requests come in. They strive to serve folks in the BCLUW school district, but occasionally are asked to help families outside of the area. People who use the food box are either on fixed incomes or have recently lost their job, had an illness or other unexpected life occurrence.
Foods that are hard to keep on the shelf include: peanut butter, canned chicken and canned beef. Perhaps you would like to bring some of these items along with your offering on Christmas Eve. Our funds will be used to purchase milk, bread, eggs and fresh produce to give out along with the canned food.
At the Mesquakie Friends Church, Juan and Deneen Ahumada now see improvement in attendance and behavior at the Wednesday Kids Club. 45-60 children participate in the meal and lesson time each week along with a growing handful of adults. Sunday services average in the 30’s. Our funds will help with gas for the vans as they pick up kids, food for the meals, lesson materials, utility bills, salary and other needs of a growing ministry.
Please be generous as you give on Christmas Eve. If you are not able to attend, you may give any Sunday by designating your check or envelope “White Gift” and it will be included with the rest of the donations. Both ministries will appreciate your prayerful and financial support as they continue to do God’s work.
*A reminder - All children & youth who are participating in the Christmas Eve Service are asked to be at the church at 5:30 pm on Christmas Eve.
Library Ledge - Merry Christmas!
A Christmas Romance: The Bridge by
Karen Kingsbury -
Five years ago, Molly left her heart in Tennessee when she walked away from the man she can’t forget. Ryan spends his time in the bookstore, remembering the hours he and Molly once spent there. When tragedy threatens to close the shop, what miracles will unfold?
The Delta Factor by Thomas Locke
Two scientists tinker with strands of genetic material in a quest to conquer viral disease. If they crack the complex puzzle, it could lead to a miracle drug of immeasurable value. The dangerous side effects cause assumptions to come crashing down around them amid corporate greed and corruption.
Experiencing the Cross by Henry Blackaby,
Teenagers are People Too! by Joyce Meyer,
Pearls of the King by Lee Domingue and
Peace-Work Quilt by J.E. McNeil
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
-Heath Nichols and Terami Kerwin are the
proud parents of Finley Rose who was born
November 21st weighing 6lbs, 8 ozs.
Welcoming Finley home was big brother, Emmitt, who is 3.
-Emma (Nichols) Chase graduates from the
University of Northern Iowa on Dec. 20th
with a Communications Studies degree!
Christ’s Coming to Earth
Christmas is all around us. I love this time of year, not because I get the latest X-box game or newest iPad (that never happens, and I don’t even have an x-box). But because I get to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know we’ve all heard the verse John 3:16 before, and most of us can recite it from memory, but that verse rings out to me during this season. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The reason that stands out to me is because God sent his one and only Son to this earth as a baby, to be born in such a way that only could be from God (Luke 1:26-38). We only need to believe in Him and we will have eternal life. The problem is, we believe in so many other earthly things, especially during this time of year. To some, Christmas means, “Yes, I’m going to get some awesome things!” That’s not the point of Christmas. The world has done a great job of commercializing and materializing Christmas and has really missed the point of what Christmas is.
Christmas is all about “Christ’s coming” to earth. It’s not about presents and not about all the things the world has made it. Sure some of those things are nice (eggnog) but it’s not what Christmas is about.
So the next time you are thinking, “I wonder how good Santa’s going to be to me this year?” Just remember, Christ came to this earth as a baby and you need to believe in Him and Him alone. If you need a reminder of what the Christmas story is all about, read Luke 1 and 2. It tells of the
foretelling of Jesus’ birth and His actual birth. It has been a long-standing tradition in my extended family that we read the Christmas story as we gather as a family. I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
-Kris Smitherman, BLFC Youth Pastor
We will meet at 1:30 on December 16 at Peggy Martin’s home in Marshalltown. All are asked to come prepared to share some of their favorite Christmas memories.
A family with 3 children and 2 separate senior adults have been chosen for our church to share. Their gift requests are in the entryway. Take the sticky note as your reminder and sign your name on the line under the note so we know that gift is covered. When you purchase the item, wrap it, put on a tag with the person’s name, then attach the sticky note to the gift and return it to church by Dec. 17. Or you may donate $$ for us to purchase items or food for their holiday meal. Used items they’d appreciate include pots & pans, baby bassinet, baby clothes, toys & books, coffee pot. Thanks in advance for bringing smiles to families in need this Christmas.
Fun Seasonal Idea
Candy Cane Bombs! People will explode with joy as you share these inexpensive treats by scattering them
throughout a parking lot on the windows of cars; at a retirement home; in hospital waiting rooms; on desks of your city offices, etc. Place them in a clear bag with the message, “Sharing the joy of Jesus with you this Christmas.” You could include a scripture verse and our church information as well.
"We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
- Mother Theresa
HOC Meal Report
On November 29, 14 were involved in preparing, serving and cleanup for 54 guests. We served: liver and onions or hamburger rice casserole, rolls and biscuits, mixed vegetables with bacon, cottage cheese, mixed fruit cups, apple dump cake with whipped topping, chocolate frosted graham crackers, Girl Scout cookies, milk or coffee. Thanks to all of our great volunteers! Our next meal responsibility is Friday, Dec. 26. Let Margaret know if your family wants to volunteer.
Dear Bangor Liberty, Thank you so much for your recent donations to the House of Compassion Supply Closet. It seems like the “needs” of people continues to rise. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.
Sincerely, HOC Supply Closet Team
Dear Bangor Liberty Friends, Thank you for supporting the Summer Mission - Education for Esther - this year. We are excited to report that over 40 girls are able to attend school this year in Turkana & Samburu. Turkana & Samburu scholarships are ongoing programs of FUM
-Teri from Friends United Meeting