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First United Methodist Church
Bristol, Tennessee

Your Weekly e-Newsletter and Events Schedule
November 29 – December 5, 2018
First Sunday of Advent
December 2, 2018

Luke 21:25-36
Stay Alert!
Rev. Brandon Berg

From the Pastor’s Pen
In these last days before Advent, the culminating days of the Christian year, the daily lectionary I follow during Morning Prayer is guiding us through the final words of the prophet Zechariah. They are dark words, frightening words about Zechariah playing out prophetic action, commanded by God to take charge of a flock of sheep in such a way that he drives off three shepherds in the space of a month because he is impossible to work with. He shatters two shepherding staffs as a symbol of the covenant God is breaking with Judah and Israel. He gives up the flock to their doom, proclaiming:
   Let the dying die,
               and let what is to be removed be removed.
   Let those who are left devour the flesh of their neighbor.
Thank God that Zechariah’s oracles will eventually culminate in a word of hope, because these words, left on their own, are hopeless indeed.
But I know the prophets do that. I know their practice is to proclaim doom, doom, doom, and then to say, at the end, “but wait; there’s more.” The doom doesn’t bother me so much. What bothers me about the words I’m finding in Zechariah this week is how ambiguous the transition between God’s voice and the prophet’s voice is.
Who is speaking here?
I can mostly work it out, but it’s tricky. Some translators don’t even bother marking off when the voice of God begins or ends because we can’t be entirely sure. At best, we’re working with context clues, since the ancient Hebrew hadn’t quite gotten to the point of inventing handy punctuation like quotation marks.
Maybe I don’t ultimately have a choice but to stand in the discomfort of the text’s ambiguity.
Maybe I need to spend more time in the discomfort of ambiguity, actually. I spend a lot of effort trying to exercise the muscles of discernment, finding what our texts have to say to our community, finding where God is speaking and in what way to our church and our city and our connection and even to me. Maybe I need to spend a little less time working those spiritual and intellectual muscles out and a little more time working the musculature of openness and attention.
Our children have each, at this point, asked me how to discern God’s voice, how to know when God is answering prayer or speaking to them. I struggle with the answer sometimes.
Sometimes it’s clear when God is saying something.
Sometimes God’s voice is as plain as writing on a wall.
Sometimes God speaks in the thunder.
Sometimes God simply whispers.
Sometimes God is revealed in scripture.
Sometimes God is revealed in science.
Sometimes God is revealed in a mended relationship.
Sometimes God is revealed in the meeting of water and rock.
Maybe, if I pay enough attention, I can see something of the character of God revealed in everything.
Maybe, if I pay enough attention, I can see everything of God in anything.
Maybe the quotation marks aren’t so important.
Maybe what’s important is attention.
It’s Advent. God is with us.

Feed the Hungry Offering
Our Feed the Hungry offering this week will go to Bristol Faith In Action.
BFIA is a cooperative outreach ministry of the churches of Bristol and the local community, formed to serve any persons whose circumstances leave them with
significant physical, social, emotional or spiritual needs.

Last Sunday We Celebrated Christ the King Sunday
John 18:33-37

Our Christmas Miracle
Dale Dietz was back in worship with us Sunday after a frightening
accident left him with several broken ribs and vertebrae just two weeks ago.
Our prayers continue for Dale and Sue. How we love them!

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does its successive journeys run;
his kingdom spread from shore to shore
shall wax and wane no more.
People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love with sweetest song;
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his name.
~Isaac Watts, 1719

Crown him the Lord of life, who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.
~Matthew Bridges, 1851

Pilate said, “Your own people and their leading priests brought
you to me for trial.
Why? What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom.
If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed
over to the Jewish leaders.
But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
Pilate said, “So you are a king?”
Jesus responded, “You say I am a king.
Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth.
All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
~John 18:35-37 NLT

When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
~Katholisches Gesangbuch, 1744

Lord, send us from here as one great family,
the Kin-dom of Heaven ruled by you,
Holy in one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Please Join Us Saturday Morning for
The Hanging of the Greens

Hanging of the Greens will be this Saturday, December 1, from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Can you and your family come and help us prepare the church for Advent?
If your children can participate, please contact Suzanne Goyette (423.753.7172).
She will have something special planned for them as well.

Celebrating Christmas Nuptials
Erica Dawn Rakes and Kenneth Tyler Vest will join their lives together in
holy matrimony on Sunday, December 2, 2018.
Erica and Kenneth have extended an invitation to all
church friends to join their reception at
First United Methodist Church in Tankersley Hall beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
by Barbara Robinson
Directed by Steve Baskett

You won’t want to miss this Christmas Production!
It features First’s very own Lara and Andy McGrady!
Theatre Bristol
Friday, November 30, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 16, 2:30 p.m.
Tickets $12.00 Seniors $10.00 Students $10.00
purchase tickets at

(Let’s get rid of the MINUS)
The General Budget account needs help! This is the account which pays our staff; keeps our lights, heat and water working; supplies teaching materials for classes; keeps our kitchen supplied with necessities; and supports other worship and administrative needs.
This weekly report enables you to know the facts. We are in this time together.
Account Balance as of November 11
Account Balance as of November 25

Operation Envelope
Campaign returns…
First UMC finds itself in a negative financial position. We are asking each of you to take an envelope from the $1 to $200 envelopes. Return the envelope with check (marked Envelope in the memo) or cash and your name. You will be given credit for this over-and-above gift. The envelopes will be placed outside the sanctuary and by the entry table in The River service.

Martha Circle will meet
at the home
of Peggy Wilson on
December 11 at 6 p.m.

Fellowship Study Group

Unafraid and Unashamed: Facing the Future of United Methodism
by Wil Cantrell
Open to Any and All to Join for Now or Any Time
Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. starting in Tankersley Hall
Bring a snack to share!

5th and 6th Grade Bible Study
Wednesdays 6:30-8:00

M. A. F. I. A.
(my Almighty Father is Awesome!)
Join us Wednesday, December 5
for a Youth Advent Party, 6:30 p.m., TH

Sunday School – Weekly at 9:30 a.m.

WORSHIP FULLY – Wednesday, Nov. 28
Sunday, December 2

SPEND LESS – Wednesday, December 5
Sunday, December 9

GIVE MORE – Wednesday, December 12
Sunday, December 16

LOVE ALL – Wednesday, December 19
Sunday, December 23

Join the conspiracy. Wednesday sessions begin at 10 a.m.;
Sunday sessions begin at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018
7:00 p.m.
Anderson Street UMC
954 Anderson Street
Bristol, Tennessee
No Charge

Wednesday Community Advent Services
December 5  Reynolds Memorial UMC
December 12    Virginia Avenue UMC
December 19    John Wesley UMC
All services begin at noon

Thank you for your prayers, work support and kind expressions of concern during my recent surgery.
I could not wait to get back to work and church to be with all of you again!
God Blessings and My Appreciation to all! Carol

Dinner for Eight Group
Enjoying an Evening of Dinner and Theatre
Are You Missing a Sewing Machine?
Several years ago in Vacation Bible School, our children made pillowcase dresses for the Haiti girls. At that time, someone generously loaned us a sewing machine to use. We would like to return it. If the machine belongs to you, please let Carol know and we’ll make sure you get it back.  

Camp Bays Mountain Summer Camp
2018 Summer Camp Summary Report
  • Attended by 258 campers and 24 staff.
  • 10 percent made first time commitments to Christ.
  • 10 percent are considering a call to ministry.
  • Registration for 2019 summer begins January 1, 2019
Please consider giving to support registrations for young people from our church to attend camp in 2019 and to complete our church’s commitment to support 2018 attendees.
Registration is approximately $400 per person per week.

Worship in Children’s Church Last Week
Did you know Christ the King Sunday is like New Year’s Eve for our church?
We celebrated with a party, and we had lots of help! Matthew Hess helped us decorate. Miss Trinka took us to the Sacristy and helped us learn about how our worship space is prepared for different seasons and events.
Did you realize that the casket pall is the color of Christ the King Sunday?
Those for whom it is used have become members of the Church Triumphant.
Our lesson was from John 8:33-37.
Jesus said, “My Kingship is not of this world.”
(He does not use force or build castles.)
“I have come into this world to bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
That is the kind of King I want to serve.
Don’t you?

Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.
Send Your Pictures and Announcements
to Publish in the Newsletter

Send your photos and announcements for the Newsletter
call Carol at 423.652.2811 M-Th, 9-2.
For each publication, information is
needed by noon on Wednesday.

Your Church Event and Planning Calendar
November 29 December 5, 2018
Thursday, November 29
6:00pm-Yoga with Jean-Yoga Studio
Friday, November 30
5:30pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
 6:30pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
Saturday, December 1
Sunday, December 2
 9:30am-The River Contemplative Worship Service-TH
                            (Childcare is provided from 9:30am to 12:00pm.
                             Children may be picked up at any time.)
9:30am-Sunday School Hour
10:00am-Common Ground Service-Chapel
11:00am-Traditional Worship Service-Sanctuary
12:15pm-Choir Rehearsal-Choir Room
5:30pm-Wedding Reception-TH
7:00pm-Advent Conspiracy-Church Library
Monday, December 3
1:00pm-Food Pantry Volunteers (until 4:00pm)-Bristol Emergency Food Pantry
6:00pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
Tuesday, December 4
8:00am-Men’s Prayer Group-TH
Wednesday, December 5
10:00am-Advent Conspiracy-Church Library
5:30pm-Fellowship Study Group-begin in TH (Bring a snack to share)
6:30pm-BeTween Bible Study (5th and 6th Graders)
6:30pm-Youth (MAFIA)
            To make changes or additions to the calendar contact Alan Gorrell 423-652-7377
                                                   or Sandy Gorrell 423-652-1987.

First United Methodist Church
Rev. Brandon Berg, Pastor (276.237.6498)
 322 Vance Dr., Bristol, TN 37620

Our Vision
Building A Community Where Anyone
Can Become A Deeply Committed Christian