End of week Message Thursday, December 22, 2023

*Today’s message comes a day early, as the church office is closed tomorrow in observance of Christmas. We WILL NOT have a December 26 post for the same reason”*

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.—Titus 3:4-7

Dear Church,

As Christmas approaches it looks like snow is not in the forecast though the temperatures certainly could provide such if any precipitation was to occur!

This fact was on my mind as I read one of our Advent Devotional today from Presbyterians for earth care. This paragraph particularly struck me.:

As heirs with hope for eternal life (Titus 3:7), let’s share gifts that say “I love you as God loved us” and also “the best things in life  are not things.” Because we all have more than enough, lets open our homes, our hearts, and our tables, ready to accept God’s gift of renewal; and ready to protect God’s creation. Let’s stop shopping and start sharing the good news of God’s kindness, love, and mercy (Titus3:4-5).

This is a beautiful but also difficult call to answer, especially since I know I still have last minute preparations, including shopping to make before Sunday. But it is also a helpful reminder to make sure those preparations are focused not just on my needs and desires but on the love of God we celebrate, a love that welcomes, wars, fills.

So, to that end, I encourage you to visit the link below to see how in these cold days ahead you might be able to share a gift with the folks running warming stations for the unhoused in Raleigh. The first link will connect you to a local news story; the second to a “How you can help” webpage.

My dear friends, let us move through these last days until Christmas with a spirit of welcome, of love, of the grace, God shares with us and calls us to pass on to others.

The Lord Bless and Keep You!

Rev. Ben


*Christmas Eve Service is 5pm on Saturday, December 24– in-person and online! All are welcome!
*December 25 worship is at 11am. Come sing Christmas Hymns as we welcome Christ into our lives and the world once more!
Online participation via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/firstpresbyterianchurchofgarner

Walking Group: Join the Walking Group each Tuesday at 6pm. We currently meet at Cadence Senior Living Center (200 Minglewood Dr.). If you have any questions, contact the church office 919-772-0727. In the event there is inclement weather, we’ll just gather the following week.

The Christmas Joy Offering is a Presbyterian tradition that distributes gifts to support our Leaders… past, present, and future. Your gifts are used for providing comfort to church leaders, supporting leadership development, and building the future of the church. Established in the 1930s, the offering distributes gifts equally to the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions and to Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color. Materials related to The Christmas Joy Offering are available in the church office. the offering will be collected on 12/24 and 12/25.

Reminder… our 5th Saturday commitment for H.O.P.E is Saturday, December 31, 2022. Let us end 2022 with providing a “day of dignity” for the guests at H.O.P.E., a bountiful, nutritious meal to quell their hunger and the embrace of our compassion to give them the strength to face the day and the beginning of a new year with a renewed spirit and hope for possibilities/opportunities yet to come.

Boy Scout Troop 392 is having a Krispy Kreme fundraiser. Please contact the church office (919) 772-0727 for information on how to get your certificate for a dozen glazed donuts. The cost is $15 for each certificate which can be used at any Krispy Kreme location across the United States. (Not valid for in grocery store purchases.)

* The 2023 Flower Chart is up! The flower chart is posted in the hallway and ready for sign-ups. The cost of the flowers for the coming year is $40.00.

*Prayers for Peace: Our world continues to need prayers of word and deed for peace. As we in NC are especially aware, it is hurricane season. So our prayers for the world at this time are most notably with those impacted by Hurricane Fiona (particularly in Puerto Rico) as well as Hurricane Ian. Please continue to keep law enforcement and first responders in your prayers as well as those struggling with gun violence in too many places in our nation (including Raleigh, NC). Pray, too, for those for whom the holiday season can be heavy as they deal with loss in what is known as a “joyful” season.

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