Pastoral Post 12.15.2016

On Sunday afternoon I crowded with 60-70 others into the new Habitat home in Walton Woods (named for our own Walton Garrett) to dedicate the first house built in that new community on Davis Cove Rd. We and some 14 other local United Methodist Churches and our Smoky Mountain District office raised the $55,000 and provided most of the labor to sponsor the house. I was so proud of our group of churches and so moved by the young mother as she admitted she could not adequately express her gratitude for this safe, healthy home for her and her two adorable daughters. Those financial gifts that you have made over the past year for Habitat, the efforts of many of our members who have worked on the house, and the lunches served by others have been vitally important in the completion of the project. We can celebrate with this young family that will be in their new home by Christmas!  Our gifts do matter!

Later on Sunday afternoon I sat in the Festival of Carols and listened with amazement once more at the unbelievable amount of musical talent we have in this church. Different musical ensembles, different kinds of music, different expressions of the music of the season.....it’s become one of my favorite events of the year!

We move ever closer to Christmas, but we have one more Sunday in Advent. Susan will be preaching this Sunday, and we will receive new members in each of our 3 services. Then, at 4:00 in the afternoon, we will have the annual Service of Remembrance, a quiet, reflective, prayerful service with an opportunity to light candles for those we remember and love. This is a season of joy, but it is also bittersweet for those grieving the loss of loved ones—and who of us is not?

Once again we have 4 opportunities to worship here on Christmas Eve—see the schedule—and note that on Christmas morning we will have ONE SERVICE at 10:00 in the sanctuary. I’m told pajamas are allowed! We’ll sing lots of favorite carols and hear the Christmas story read in a way that is new to our ears!

I said earlier that “Our gifts do matter!” We know last year’s Christmas offering helped fund the Habitat House. This year our Christmas offering will go once again to the Heating Fund of Haywood Christian Ministry and also to NC Flood Relief. Because of our giving, some of our neighbors will stay warm this winter, and some family whose home was recently destroyed by flooding in eastern NC will get back in their home next spring or summer. Mark your gift “Christmas Offering” and it will be split 50-50, or you may mark it for one of the above or the other.

Also, in the giving category, we depend upon a very strong December to complete our financial goals for the year. Remember you can give appreciated stock, and now might be a great time to do so! And, if you have not returned an Estimate of Giving card for your support of the church in 2017, please, please do so asap. Call Barbara Iversen and she’ll help you set up online giving, if that makes sense for you.

I know that I speak for our talented and dedicated staff in wishing all of you the Peace, Hope, Joy and Love of the Christ Child and the best year ever in 2017!

Sandy

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