Christmas, It Is The Season
I am not telling you something that you are not already aware of when I say, “Christmas is possibly one of the most stressful times of the year.” What is unique is that the stress during this time seems to come from as many different directions as there are people to be stressed. We are pulled in multiple directions by family and friends. We spend too much time around family members who seem to relish in pushing our buttons. We all have friends who are miserable at this time of year and want everyone they come in contact with to be equally miserable. We get stressed out when we shop for that one gift that we know will make the one we love so happy. Some of us get tired of being asked by family what we want for Christmas. Some of us make deals with our spouses that we won’t buy each other gifts and only concentrate on buying for the kids. We deal with so much stress and we do so much to try and alleviate the stress that we wonder how we will ever make it. We forget about the reason for Christmas because we are consumed with our lives.
That is the danger we have to deal with at Christmas. God sends His Son to save us and we whine about the results of the election in November. God sends His Son to earth as a baby and we ask God to do something about our 401k that’s down this year. He gave us his son to free us from our sin and we ask, ‘God can’t you get me a better job? Why can’t we have a house like our neighbors? Why do I have cancer?” To often our stress consumes us. We become open wounds that cry out for healing. We focus on our hurt, our frustration, our loss and we ignore the light.
The Apostle Paul was one who knew suffering, frustration and pain. While we have no record of Paul whining or complaining, we do know that he asked three times to be relieved of the pain caused by the “thorn in his flesh.” Three time he was refused. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul writes how Jesus told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” The weakness mentioned there is us at the end of our rope.
If you are at that point, I think Paul would want to take you by the hand and he would want to lead you into a town called Bethlehem, over to a stable, a cave where animals would find shelter. And I think he would probably want to point out to you a young man who’s just disillusioned. So many of his hopes and dreams have been altered. He has endured the disgrace of having a pregnant fiancé that he’s never been with. And, yeah, he knows the truth, but a lot of people doubt the story. And he’s entrusted to take care of Mary and the best he can do is a shelter for animals.
I think Paul would probably want to point to you a young mother who’s made a difficult journey. Nine months pregnant. We think of her as riding a donkey, and perhaps she did, but maybe she walked. We really don’t know. She makes this tough trip. She gets to Joseph’s hometown. There is no place for them to stay. And of all nights for her to go into labor, it’s tonight! God has trusted her with bringing His Son into the world, and the first place she lays Him down is in a feeding trough. And you can see the fear in her eyes. She is overwhelmed.
Maybe Paul would point to you Jesus, the Son of God, lying in a manger; because if anyone ever had a right to complain it was Jesus. He left paradise for this world, and while He was here He never had a home to call His own. While He walked this earth, His family misunderstood Him (and) His closest friends abandoned Him. He never did one thing wrong—not one thing!—and He was unjustly beaten; He was brutally killed. But you find me a place where Jesus said, “It’s not fair.” Never. Not once did he ever fail. Never whined. Never gave in. That’s the life that we are called to reflect in our own lives.
Isaiah 9:2 reads, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in in the valley of the shadow of darkness, on them has a light shined.” It is this light that has shined upon us that should animate our lives. The light we have been given, the light of God dwelling and reigning in our hearts is what allows us to react to the stress in our life by shining that light even more brightly to those around us. A few verses later Isaiah writes, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. . . and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The reason for the season.
Volunteers Needed: The House of Compassion needs volunteers to staff their Supply Closet. (Over 500 eligible clients choose 3 personal household items each month.) The requirements for this job include a welcoming smile and willingness to visit with the clients, knowing your ABC’s for general filing, being able to lift 1-2# jugs of laundry soap, etc. to give to clients, and occasionally stocking shelves. We want to have 2 people for each shift. 1 more worker is needed at each of the following times: Mondays 9:50-12:00; Wednesdays 12:50-4:30; Thursdays 12:50-4:40; and the 1st Tuesday of each month 9:50-12:00. If you are available or have questions call Karen at 752-5999. Please remember to prayer for Karen and the HOC clients. I have found that giving my time to HOC often brings blessings in return. Margaret Good and the Supply Closet Team
HOC Bangor Liberty will fix the meal for HOC on Dec 29, if you can help in anyway, please let Margaret know
HOC T-shirts and Sweatshirts sale: T-shirts $15 adult S-XL; $17 for 2XL or 3XL. Sweatshirts are $25 adult S-XL and $28 for 2XL or 3XL . Both are dark gray w/white logo & lettering. See Karen if you are interested in kids T-shirts. Orders must be placed by Dec. 1. Stop by HOC or order through Margaret. Pay when ordering. Make check out to House of Compassion. Orders can be picked up at HOC after Dec. 12.
New Bangor Liberty Cookbooks are Here!
Our new cookbooks have arrived and are available at the church for $10 each. Checks should be made out to Bangor Liberty Friends Church when you pick up your copy of the cookbook. Contact the church office if you wish to have a copy mailed to you. Additional fees will be charged for mailing.
Caroling: Friday, December 23 @ 6pm. We have four options this year: you can come to the church @ 6 pm and two groups will be formed to go out and carol in our surrounding communities. There will also be two groups in Marshalltown, one will meet at the Embers and the other @ Glenwood at 6 pm. Everyone is invited to come to the church after caroling for soup, sandwiches and dessert for fellowship. We are hopeful that anyone that wants to sing praises in celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ in our communities will join us!!!
Ministry & Council.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Offering
The missions committee would like you to be aware that contributions given to the Candlelight offering at our Christmas Eve service will be given to:
- Belize Friends School, a Quaker ministry in Belize City that operates a small non- traditional school for at-risk inner-city youth
- Right Sharing of World Resources, a Quaker organization that provides small business loans to women in the developing countries of Kenya, Sierra Leone, and South India
News from the IAYM Board on Christian Social Concerns Committee
Who is on the committee? James Tower, Hannah Maselli, Lyn Kinney, Paul Kessler, Phyllis Phipps, Kathi Berry and Charlene Martin.
What is the group’s purpose?
1. To be a resource for the members of the local churches(Monthly meetings).
2. To be pro-active in identifying issues of importance to our members.
3. To disseminate information to the Monthly meeting.
4. To try and have all of our responses be impartial, yet be inclusive of the views of Iowa Yearly Meeting as set forth in the Discipline and based on the Christian ideals of Jesus Christ.
5. Assist churches to identify needs in their communities and perform community resource mapping.
Our focus this year: Theme of the Year: Loving our Captive Neighbor Isaiah 58:6-9
Selected priority: to partner with the Wings of Refuge (a Christ-centered organization that focuses on three aspects of human trafficking survivors; rescue, restore and rise).
We have already had a Monthly meeting invite the Wings of Refuge representatives to their church and give a presentation at their mission Sunday. This resulted in the program receiving funds to support their mission and also members becoming involved in programming and advisory roles. If you want the Wings of Refuge to attend your monthly meeting you can contact Kelly Butcher at email@example.com
Other topics that you will be receiving information about in the future are: Handicap accessibility in our Monthly Meetings, Conscientious objection/Peace testimony, Hunger in our midst, Political lobbying as a Christian, Environmental Issues (Quaker Earth Care Witness)
We have a blog!!!! Fields of Justice.org
There will be articles and a list of resources available. Please take time to access this blog. We hope to post articles every two weeks with current issues and updates. If you are interested in submitting an article, please e-mail James Tower at firstname.lastname@example.org or Hannah Maselli at email@example.com
Most importantly we need your prayers!!! But we also need your financial support as currently we don’t have any money budgeted for the Christian Social Concerns committee. If we look back on our history of Quakers, what was their involvement in the past?