Rector's Message: Saturday, 26 December 2020
SUNDAY, 27 December 2020
First Sunday after Christmas Day
Included in today's update: A Message from the Rector, Readings for the First Sunday after Christmas Day, Birthdays in the Week Ahead, Special Seasonal Music, Youth Service Project, Year End Reminders....
FROM THE RECTOR
Saturday, 26 December 2020
A few days back, a parishioner commented that in the past few years she has embraced the full season of Christmas, not just the day. I think there is a very good reason that the Church allocates twelve days to Christmas: the awesome wonder of the fact that God would choose to not just come among us, but come among us as one of us, is too much to take in all at once, so we are given twelve days to soak ourselves in the glory of the Nativity story and absorb its rich fullness. I encourage you not to rush past Christmas too hurriedly, as most of the world tends to do, but linger for awhile with the tale of the Incarnation and allow its magnificent truth to wash over you. Take your time with the beauty of the story, and allow the overwhelming truth of God's Pure Love for you dwell fully in your heart.
In order to give the video team, lectors, and musicians - as well as the preacher - a Christmas break, there will be no service tomorrow. But that doesn't mean you can't take some time to worship. Here are the Collect, along with the lessons and psalm assigned for the First Sunday after Christmas Day:
Collect of the Day
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Worship the LORD, O Jerusalem; *
praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates; *
he has blessed your children within you.
He has established peace on your borders; *
he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth, *
and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool; *
he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He scatters his hail like bread crumbs; *
who can stand against his cold?
He sends forth his word and melts them; *
he blows with his wind, and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, *
his statutes and his judgments to Israel.
He has not done so to any other nation; *
to them he has not revealed his judgments.
Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian; but when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 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. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
Blessings! Peace! Grace! And Love!
A REMINDER . . .
Please remember that we will not hold in-person worship for the rest of the year, including the Christmas services, through at least January 3rd.
END OF YEAR PLEDGE STATEMENT
FOR CHARITABLE GIVING ON TAXES
In order to be claimed for 2020 tax purposes, pledges and charitable donations must be postmarked or received in the church office no later than Thursday, December 31st.
BIRTHDAYS IN THE WEEK AHEAD
O God, our times are in your hands: Look with favor, we pray, on these your servants as they begin another year. Grant that they may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen their trust in your goodness all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
SPECIAL SEASONAL MUSIC ON THE WEBSITE
There are many joyful and treasured carols and special music associated with the Christmas season and far too few opportunities to sing or hear them. So, Hannah and members of the Messiah choir have set about remedying that situation. Beginning this weekend, be sure to check the Messiah website for Music of the Season, featuring our choir director and a variety of choir members. And if the Christmas Spirit moves you, feel free to join in singing with them!
YOUTH OF MESSIAH CONTINUE
TO COLLECT NEW SWEATPANTS
Advocates for Homeless & Those in Need (AHTN) is a Bucks County interfaith non-profit that serves the homeless and those in need by providing access to emergency shelter, food and other life-sustaining services. They are in desperate need of new sweatpants in all sizes to be distributed to homeless women and men who live in tent camps in the woods throughout the county. Collection bins are located outside the Rector’s office.
SUE PHILLIPS TO RETIRE
Our longtime Parish Administrator, Sue Phillips, has announced her retirement, effective the end of this month. She will be greatly missed! And while we are happy for her as she anticipates and enters this new chapter of her life, she leaves large shoes to fill and Messiah will certainly feel her loss – not least of which will be the Rector! After the holidays have passed, the vestry is planning a special time to honor Sue’s contributions to the parish and express our appreciation for her time among us. Be on the lookout for more details to follow . . .
PARISH ROOF REPLACEMENT APPEAL
In periods of heavy rain, quite a bit of water now enters the Parish Hall, even making its way into the basement rooms, damaging floors, walls and ceilings along the way. Inspection of the roof shows that spot repair is no longer possible; the entire roof now needs replacement. As any homeowner can attest, repairs like these rarely come as a total surprise, but never at an opportune time. And yet, the project demands that a way be found to accomplish it. Cost for the project totals $125,000.00. Following advice from the investment committee, the vestry has unanimously endorsed a financial plan consisting of:
withdrawing $40,000.00 from the endowment;
a $50,000.00 loan from the diocese at only 2% interest for 5 years;
and an appeal to fund the remaining $35,00.00 from members of the congregation. In just three weeks, we have raised $40,120.00 toward this goal! WOW!! THANK YOU!! Funds raised above the stated $35K goal will ease the needs imposed by the endowment withdrawal and diocesan loan.
We are asking you and your household to prayerfully consider a financial donation to meet this important need. Work will begin soon, before any further damage is done to the interior spaces of the building.
If making a donation by check: Please make check payable to: Church of the Messiah; include Roof Replacement on memo line of your check.
You can also make your donation electronically using TitheLy: Go to the church website: messiahgwynedd.org; click the DONATE button; in the “TO” field, scroll down and choose: Roof Replacement.
If you are unable to make a donation at the current time, but wish to make a pledge for future giving, please complete and return the form enclosed in the parish mailing or notify the Church Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you for whatever assistance you can give toward this important parish project!
2021 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN & BUDGET UPDATE
To date, 123 pledges have been received, totaling $363,840.00. This significantly trails last year’s totals of 160 pledges, totaling $457,305.00.
There are at least 35 households who pledged last year that we have yet to hear from. The vestry asks that you please complete and return your pledge card ASAP in order for the 2021 parish operating budget to be prepared. If you have not returned your completed card, please do so ASAP. If you did not receive a pledge card, have misplaced or need a new pledge card, please contact the church office in the coming week and one will be provided.
With this large gap in pledges of nearly $90,000.00, coupled with the recent decision by Kids Unlimited, the day care that rented our downstairs since 2003, to close their operation, this will present a terrific hardship for Messiah to maintain programs and staff in the coming year.
2021 OFFERING ENVELOPES
If you currently use weekly offering envelopes for your pledge, you will again receive envelopes for the coming year. HOWEVER: If you currently use envelopes and do not want them for 2021, or if you did not use envelopes this year but want them for next year, we need to hear from you! Please contact the bookkeeper Sarah Patram email@example.com; or the church office. Thanks!
PLEASE KEEP YOUR PLEDGE UP TO DATE
Thank you to all of you who have dropped off or sent in your pledge over the past several weeks! Your faithfulness has allowed us to stay current with payroll and bill payment. We know how difficult it can be to remember your pledge when not attending church services, but we need your ongoing support. Please remember to submit this month's pledge. Thank you! Looking for an easy way to ensure that your weekly or monthly pledge is received regularly? Check out on-line giving using Tithe.ly, an on-line giving platform recommended by the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Simply visit the parish website (messiahgwynedd.org), click on the DONATE button, and follow the prompts. And if the COVID-19 situation has resulted in unemployment or reduced income for your household and you feel the need to adjust your pledge, we understand; please let us know so we can both assist in some way as well as make adjustments to the church budget.