Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
I hope you are having a blessed Advent season so far. Amid the busyness of the last few days before Christmas, don’t forget to give yourself the gift of a regular appointment with God. In my own life, I know how easily I can be so busy preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth that I forget to spend time with God. This is a time when we should be reading the Scriptures, spending time in prayer, worshipping God, and serving others. But too often, when life is hectic, and the calendar is full, our relationship with God is what gets set aside or forgotten. So let me encourage you to make and keep an appointment with God every day. Plan to attend worship services, but don’t just attend, really worship. Let the Scripture readings and the familiar carols and the Christmas message speak to you and inspire you. There are several opportunities to worship in the next three weeks. I look forward to seeing you.
Advent at St. Matthew’s
Our current sermon series, Christmas Through the Eyes of Mary continues at all three services on Sunday morning. Last week, we started with the final chapter of Mary’s life and are working backward in time, planning to find ourselves at the manger in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. This week’s message is called, Amazed, Astounded, and Astonished. The Scripture readings will be Luke 2:35-38 and Luke 2:41-51.
Music Sunday – December 16
One of the highlights of the Advent and Christmas season is the opportunity we have to hear and sing the familiar and meaningful carols and music of Christmas. That’s why Sunday, December 16, is going to be a wonderful day for worship; it will be Music Sunday at St. Matthew’s. At the 8:15 and 11:15 services, the Cantata Choir, accompanied by orchestra, will be presenting “Let There Be Christmas” by Joseph Martin. At 9:45, the Modern Worship Team will lead a service of Advent Poems, Songs, and Art. Please consider attending one of the Cantata services and the Modern Worship Service. You will be blessed by both of them.
Christmas Eve Worship
I will tell you more in future eNotes, but today I simply want to let you know that I am looking forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus with you at one (or more) of the four services we will be having on Christmas Eve:
4:00pm – Family Christmas Eve Service
6:00pm – Modern Candlelight & Communion Christmas Eve Service
8:30pm – Traditional Candlelight & Communion Christmas Eve Service
11:00pm – Traditional Candlelight & Communion Christmas Eve Service
Christmas Tree and Greenery Sales
The United Methodist Men (UMM) are continuing to sell high-quality Christmas trees at the church. There are a limited number of trees remaining, so don’t wait to purchase your tree for this year. The hours are 3:00pm-8:00pm on weekdays; 9:00am-7:00pm on Saturdays; and 12:30pm-5:00pm on Sundays. The money raised by Christmas Tree sales supports projects at St. Matthew’s and in our community. If you can spare a few hours, the UMM are looking for help selling trees. Go to this link to sign-up to help.
In conjunction with the UMM Christmas Trees sales, wreaths and greenery are also available for purchase. The money raised by greenery sales will support youth summer mission trips to the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) and the Jeremiah Project (JP). Please support them if you are able.
Once again, I want to thank all of you for prayerfully considering what offering you will make to God through St. Matthew’s Church in the coming year. Your gifts are an act of worship and an investment in opportunities for God to work through us to change lives and change the world. So far, we have received 180 Estimates of Giving (EOG) for 2019, totaling $762,550. If you haven’t yet turned in an Estimate of Giving, it’s not too late. You can go to our website and use the Give link to download a form, complete your EOG, and sign-up for online giving. Remember: online giving saves church resources and makes sure you can fulfill your commitment when you are traveling. Many people find online giving helps them grow in their stewardship. Don’t forget that if you use our automatic online giving service, it must be reauthorized every year.
As your church leaders look ahead to next year, they not only want to continue the church’s current ministries, they also want to expand our mission and ministry and reach more people in our community, so that we can fulfill our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We believe God is calling us to make a difference in the lives of people in our church and community by inviting and welcoming our neighbors, helping them make connections and find meaning and purpose through a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. In 2019, we want to answer that call by continuing to provide excellent worship, and continuing to invest in ministries to, for, and with children, youth, and adults. We want to expand our outreach to the community through effective communication. We want to grow in mission and service and be instruments of transformation in the world through community partnerships and through the connection of The United Methodist Church. And we want to continue maintaining and improving our facility. We need your help. Your faithful response to God’s grace through financial stewardship is what makes it possible for us to answer God’s call and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Earlier this week, St. Matthew’s member, Greta Davidson, was recognized for more than 30 years of coordinating and leading St. Matthew’s participation in Fairfax County’s Meals on Wheels program. Delivering Meals on Wheels is one of the many ways that St. Matthew’s members and friends make a difference the community by making sure that at-risk senior adults have some human contact and a warm, nutritious meal every day. I am grateful for people like Greta – and the many volunteers and unsung heroes who serve God through ministries like Meals on Wheels, Food for Others, FACETS, and the Lamb Center every single day. God is honored when we bless others. Many thanks to everyone who answers God’s call to serve.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.