I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you had time with family and friends to catch up with each other, to tell stories, to remember other Thanksgivings and loved ones. I hope you had some quiet time to ponder how gracious and giving our God is and to remember that everything we have and everything we are, are gifts from God.
Now we are into Advent and a “new year” on the liturgical/worship calendar. Advent is an ancient observance of the church, a time to wait, to anticipate, to pray, to make room in our lives for the Christ to come. We know that Christ has come, we believe that Christ does come to us again and again, and we look for Christ to someday complete his work when the kingdom of God will be full reality. Advent is a time of longing for God to come and save us.
There are many opportunities in Advent for worship and inspiration. I hope you are reading the daily readings from the Advent card we’ve distributed the past couple of weeks. I hope you’ll be regular in worship attendance and also in the extra services that will be so meaningful. Check the schedule of services and concerts—we have such great music at First Church!
Our Christmas offering will once again be split two ways. Again this year, half of the gifts will be given to the Haywood Christian Ministries heating fund. The other mission we are funding this year is Flood Relief for Eastern NC, which will be given to the NC Annual Conference for their efforts. Simply mark any checks “Christmas Offering” and the split will be made 50-50, or designate one or the other.
Thanks to all who have returned your commitment cards for giving to the general budget for 2017. To date, we have 213 pledges totaling $826,852. The success of the campaign and our ability to fund growing ministries in 2017 depends upon our hearing from those who have not yet responded. Please respond as a personal spiritual discipline of intentional giving, and, at the same time, help the Leadership Team know how to plan for funding ministries in the new year. Giving to Grow means we grow as we give and we make possible growth in the church’s ministries and missions.
As we approach the end of 2016, we once again need a strong month of giving to the general budget to meet our financial goals for the year. Please be generous, as you are able, in fulfilling your commitments and in any additional giving. You may have a tax advantage in giving stocks. All gifts are needed and appreciated.
I’m looking forward to a meaningful December, rich in Advent themes, moving toward the celebration that is Christmas. See you Sunday!