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First United Methodist Church
Bristol, Tennessee

Your Weekly e-Newsletter and Events Schedule
December 20 – 26, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 23, 2018

Luke 1:39-55
My Soul Magnifies the Lord
Rev. Brandon Berg

From the Pastor’s Pen
On the way home from my weekly study of the Revised Common Lectionary texts for the following week, with Mary’s Magnificat ringing in my ears and David StClair’s phrase “respiratory martyrdom” tumbling around my brain (think of an exasperated sigh puffing from an eye-rolling child), I spotted one of many of our neighbors’ fancy digital signboards flashing forth their Christmas slogan, one line at a time:
And the Word became flesh
and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory
John 1:14
And a number of other thoughts fought for attentional primacy as I hurled my 3000-lb machine along the pavement in a residential neighborhood.
Not one of those thoughts was, “What hazards are presenting themselves to me as I approach them four times faster than I can run?”
They were more like this:
Ooh, that text is one of the ones we’re hearing on Christmas Eve!
John is such a mysterious guy, but he has such a wonderful turn of phrase.
…the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Wait, why isn’t that up there?
And that’s where I got caught in a cognitive loop.
I have a deep appreciation for the focus on the immanence of God in the person of Jesus. Immanuel is probably my favorite characteristic of the Divine. God Is with Us is a deep message of hope that speaks with immediacy to just about every human situation.
But I can’t help but speak that verse in its entirety. What was quoted on the signboard wasn’t John 1:14, it was John 1:14a, just the first part of the verse. Its incompletion bothers me, and not because it leaves out something I particularly treasure. It covers my favorite theology in the verse. It just bothers me because I want it to go on.
And the Word became flesh
and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
What kind of glory? The glory like the only son of a father.
In a culture in which heritage is only passed patrilineally, having sons is of the utmost importance. With no sons, a father’s estate and family line is lost. With only one son, there is only one opportunity for heritage to be passed on. What should happen if the son is hurt or lost? Everything is dependent on his survival and his good upbringing.
And what of daughters? Their best hope is to marry into somebody else’s secure family. They have no hope of carrying on the father’s estate or family.
Speaking as someone with one son and two daughters with extraordinarily diverse gifts and interests, that bugs me. It’s entirely sensible in its cultural and historical context, but today the patriarchal baggage of “the glory as of a father’s only son” nags at me.
So maybe today it’s important to note that “only son” is also used in Luke 8 to describe Jairus’s daughter.
His only-begotten daughter.
His singular treasure. Maybe the person more important to this synagogue leader than anyone else in the world.
She isn’t just a write-off to Jairus. She’s important enough that Jairus seeks Jesus out and – this man who has people to wait on him, hand and foot – falls on his knees to beg like the poor at his own door.
The glory of his life is losing the battle of her life.
That glory is who the Word is to the Creator. That glory is whom God sends to be born in a stable, drenched with birthy goo and fragile as a tender stem, shocked by the rush of desert air into brand-new lungs, rushed into the protection of Mary’s arms as she takes him to her to know him, to comfort him, to protect him, to covenant to him that he is the glory as of her only son, full of grace and truth.
The miracle of Christmas.
May that glory dwell in your house this Christmastide. May the grace and truth of God wrapped up in a fragile infant transform your understanding of the Divine in these days. May you never be the same, because
the Word became flesh
and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory.

Feed the Hungry Offering
Our Feed the Hungry offering this week is for Local School Missions.
This fund helps families in need within the Bristol School System.

Looking for a Christmas gift and a way to honor or remember a friend or family member? How about giving to the General Fund or to Help for Haiti? 
Cards have been placed outside the sanctuary for you to fill out and include in a card or gift to that person or their family. 

The Giving Tree
See how lovely it is becoming with all its ornaments of socks, gloves, hats and scarves you have provided! It is not too late too add more – just come in and add your offering to the tree.
All the donated items will be taken to a homeless shelter. 

Last Sunday
We Celebrated Advent with
A Festival of Lessons and Carols
led by Phil Haga and the Chancel Choir

God of our salvation,
draw us together
in trust and in joy.

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed, his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free;
to take away transgression, and rule in equity.
~James Montgomery, 1821

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we
can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds
as you live in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.
~Charles Wesley, 1744

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means, ‘God is with us.'”
~Matthew 1:23

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 2:6-7
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God and saying, Glory to God in highest heaven,and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased. Luke 2:13-14
Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice;
give ye heed to what we say: News, news! Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before him bow, and he is in the manger now,
Christ is born today, Christ is born today!
~John Neale, 1855

Our Old Fashioned Sunday Dinner
A very special thank you to everyone who prepared food, provided clean-up prior to and after our dinner, planned the beautiful table decorations and in other ways helped with festivities. It was a lovely time of sharing fellowship with lovely friends. We are blessed.
Our Children Presenting the Nativity
Merci Beaucoup, Grazie, Danke sehr, Spasiba, Takk
A Thousand Thank You’s. . .
. . . to the many of you who have made this season brighter and more blessed. . .
Those who came out on a Saturday morning to prepare our Sanctuary and God’s House for Advent and Christmas – – –
Phil Haga, Carol Johnson and the Chancel Choir for leading us all in a Service of Lessons and Carols – – –
The UMW for its Old Fashioned Christmas Dinner this past Sunday – – –
Suzanne Goyette and the Children’s Department for the uplifting entertainment during Christmas dinner – – –
What wonderful memories we all share within our family at First UMC

(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 December 16
Please consider giving an end-of-year-gift to
Operation Envelope
and completing your pledge for the year. 

Operation Envelope Campaign
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.
We currently have given over $2500.00
through this campaign!

Will You Be a Shepherd of First UMC?
Our church is prayerfully contemplating a Shepherd Flock Ministry. This ministry will require eight to ten spiritual leaders who will accept the office of Shepherd. Shepherds serve as imperfect vessels with the power of our Lord guiding their efforts through the help of the Holy Spirit.
Shepherds care for 5 to 10 families, meeting their needs through regular contact, prayer, hospital and bereavement visits, etc. A shepherd must be at least eighteen years of age. A “shepherd” may be an individual, a couple, or a family (with younger family members mentored by an adult.)
Please prayerfully consider becoming a Shepherd to our Church. If you would like to receive more information or to accept the invitation, please contact Alan Gorrell. Alan has placed a Sample Binder on the table in the foyer that contains information about this ministry.

Volunteer Training
Led by Rev. Tony McDade with United Ministries
State Street United Methodist Church
300 West Valley Street
Bristol VA 24201
Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 6:00 pm. 
Since it has been at least five years since we received training, everyone is encouraged to attend this session. Please be sure to put this on your calendars. Updated training guides will be provided.
RSVP by calling 276-696-9425.

Community Rewards Program
First United Methodist Church (Organization Number BE100) earned $86.31 in the period September 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018.
Twenty-one households currently participate.
Thank you!

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
December 20-26, 2018
Thursday, December 20
6:00pm-Yoga with Jean-Yoga Studio
Friday, December 21
5:30pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
 6:30pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
Saturday, December 22
Sunday, December 23
9:30am-The River Contemporary Worship Service-TH
9:30am-Sunday School Hour
10:00am-Common Ground Service-Chapel
11:00am-Traditional Worship Service-Sanctuary
6:00pm-Christmas Eve Service-Sanctuary
6:00pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
Wednesday, December 26 – CHURCH OFFICE CLOSED
All Wednesday Evening Activities Canceled
Thursday, December 27 – CHURCH OFFICE OPEN
6:00pm-Yoga with Jean-Yoga Studio
6:30pm-Mankind Project-Youth Room
            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