This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let rejoice in the new year, and all the promise it holds, and let us rejoice that our celebration of the birth of our Savior continues for a few more days! This coming Thursday is the twelfth day of Christmas, and Friday is the Epiphany of our Lord, the day on which the Magi arrived in Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn Christ. Both of these events are significant, and are worthy of our observance.
The end of the Season of Christmas DOES NOT mean that we should put away Christ when we put away our decorations and holiday sweaters; it means that it’s now time to live into the promise of the arrival of the Son of Man, and make the joy and delight of the season a part of every day of our lives. It means that the four virtues of Advent – hope, peace, joy, and love – should be the foundation upon which we build the new year. The arrival of the Magi, after their long journey, reminds us that the way of the Lord is neither short nor always smooth, but that it’s always worth the effort to travel on the path that leads to righteousness and eternal life. And Epiphany also reminds us that we should be attentive to the voices of angels, who whisper warning and wisdom in our ears, so that we don’t put ourselves (or others) in danger by not heeding their words.
We hope and pray that 2023 is filled with joy, wonder, happiness, and love. God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good!
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in the ongoing celebrations of the Christmas season, and let us be glad that we’re getting a bit of a respite from the deep freeze so that the roads and our driveways can lose some of the ice left over from the pre-Christmas storm!
This is our last email before the New Year, so it seems to us that it might be good to take a look back over the year that was 2022; as is the case with every year, there were wonderful highs and devastating lows. We celebrated marriages and the lives of those who entered the Church Triumphant, breakthroughs in medicine amazed us, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saddened us. We rejoiced in miraculous healings of loved ones, and cried over heartbreaking diagnoses, and prayed hard for God’s right and perfect answers to all of our questions and concerns. We don’t know everything that might have happened in your lives over the course of the year, but we do know that whatever happened, God was (and remains) present to you in it all. And we do know that God will be present in whatever 2023 will bring, if we will invite him to walk through the year with us – and if we’re willing to listen for his still, small voice when we voice our joys and concerns. We’re not really big fans of New Year’s resolutions, but we do make one every year; that in the year that is to be, we resolve to walk with the Almighty every day, in every circumstance. That resolution has served us very well over the years, even when we’ve stumbled and fallen short of the goal (maybe especially then… ), and we invite you to join us in making this New Year’s resolution along with us. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your lives in 2022, and we look forward to sharing 2023 with you in love, hope, joy, and peace.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in coming celebration of the birth of our Savior in only four days, and let us be glad that we will be gathering together to welcome the Christ Child on Christmas Eve at our Candlelight Services at Grand Lake Community Chapel (5:00 p.m.) and Westminster Presbyterian (7:30 p.m.). We’re aware of the potential for a winter storm hitting our area late Thursday through Saturday morning, and we’re monitoring developments so that everybody stays safe. But, it does appear that the worst of the storm will have cleared our area by mid-day on Christmas Eve, so we’re going full speed ahead with our final preparations for a pair of grand celebrations. We look forward to seeing you to share in a service of Lessons & Carols, culminating with the lighting of candles and a hearty “Merry Christmas!”
After four weeks of Advent observances, the day is at hand; are you ready? We’re sure your homes are beautifully decorated, packages are carefully wrapped and placed under the tree, and plans for spending time with family and friends are in place, but is your heart ready? The world writ large will change on Christmas Day, for the better; so will our personal worlds, if we’re truly ready to welcome Emmanuel, God with us, into our very beings. If you don’t feel ready, then you still have four days to set aside your worries and fears, and let the Spirit overtake you and fill your heart and soul with the joy of the Christmas season. Do this, and you will know an incomparable sense of peace and contentment for the rest of your life! Merry Christmas to all, and peace, hope, joy, and love to the whole world!!
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in clear roads (for today, at least!), and let us be glad that the forecast nasty weather for the next couple of days seems to have Presque Isle County just north of the worst of it! That said, here’s hoping for a white Christmas – with clear roads and driveways…
Can you believe that it’s only 11 days until Christmas Day?? This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Advent; where has the time gone? Even if you’re one of those fortunate folks who have all the shopping done, house perfectly decorated, and your outfit for Christmas Eve worship picked out, there’s almost certainly a thing of two that you’ve got to address; one of those things is continuing to prepare the way of the Lord in your heart and soul. Let’s be honest, the process of making ourselves ready for the birth of Christ is a never-ending one. We may feel that we’re all set, and then we encounter a challenge that causes us to stumble in some way; we might lash out in anger at a loved one, we may see a story on the nightly news that causes us to lose hope for tomorrow, or the pressures of a medical worry could toss us into despair. Common, human responses to difficult things. Nothing to beat ourselves up over, rather these are opportunities to turn to The One who makes all things right in the perfect time and in the perfect way, opportunities to let God be God in our lives and making our spirits fertile ground for the Messiah to walk upon. In a very few days from today, we will be able to say “Merry Christmas,” for in a very few days, the Christ Child will come to make all things new. Including us.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Greetings in Christ! This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in the sights and sounds of the season, and let us be glad that we still have 18 days to make ourselves fully ready for the arrival of our Lord and Savior! While admittedly being overdone at times, the twinkling lights and bright ornaments can’t help but put a smile on our faces (even if that smile is accompanied by a shake of our heads). And the happy Christmas tunes that we hear urge us ever-forward in our preparations with a song in our hearts and a spring in our steps. This truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for one, and only one reason, regardless of the tinsel and packages strewn about; Jesus of Nazareth, who will redeem the world and change the course of history, is soon to be born to a young girl in harsh circumstances. Our cherished tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas can be traced back to the Magi bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the Christ Child; and we all (mostly) love searching for the perfect gift for those dear to us, and let’s be honest – we also enjoy receiving gifts! But have we stopped to think about whether or not our gift selections and suggestions are honoring of the One whose birth we are gearing up to celebrate? There’s absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with purchasing a special sweater for a special person or suggesting that we’d love to find a particular item under the tree on Christmas morning, but there’s something very right about making sure that a gift that will honor the Messiah is given at this time of the year. There are countless charities and benevolent organizations that do remarkable things with seemingly modest gifts, so let us gently encourage you to add a gift (or two) to the charity(ies) of your choice this Christmas. You might be amazed at how marvelous you’ll feel!
in everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
Hello, my friends! I LOVE this season of the year spent in Advent and the preparation for Christmas; don’t you?!!! My house smells so good with treats being prepared; and sometimes I even get to take advantage of my families’ fumbles with food! Decorations are appearing; and being the careful, big boy that I am, I now know that those shiny balls hanging from the tree are not toys! I so love ripping open packages, but know that I must wait for Christmas morning, and open only my presents. And while these elements of the holidays are great fun, my heart knows the real joy of the season is found in the Christ child. Jesus changes everything for us with His example, His grace, and His eternal love.
This year I’ve noticed that both churches have wreathes filled with five candles: three blue, one pink, and one white. We light one new candle on each Sunday of Advent; the white one in the center, called the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas Eve representing the birth of Jesus. Each candle has a different meaning, and I’ve decided to use the theme of each Sunday help guide me in my Advent preparation. We remember Jesus’ birth on Christmas, but we also prepare to meet Christ when He comes again.
The First Sunday of Advent is Hope. This year my focus was on the things I hoped for. I hope for treats; I hope for cuddles; I hope for rides in the truck; and I hope for Mom to drop food when she is cooking, but these seem rather selfish hopes when examining my state of readiness for meeting my Savior. This year I focused, instead, on my hopes and good wishes for others—my prayers for them, really. You are in my prayers.
On the Second Sunday of Advent we will light The Candle of Peace. When I seek peace I usually wish to keep other dogs off my sidewalk, squirrels out of my yard, and my people to stop bothering me when I am napping. This year my focus on peace will begin with thanksgiving for how very much God loves and cares for me. I have His support all day, every day—with that kind of gift I can live with true peace.
The Third Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Joy and we light the pink candle. I think of this as my Advent Sunday because I am all about joy. In fact, I wear a joy-meter right where my tail rests! Sometimes it almost flies off from my body because my joy is so extreme! Seeing you, the people I love; going to work with my parents; licking fresh snow; napping by the fire; chasing blowing leaves; and so many other things bring me joy. But you know sometimes opportunities for joy come my way and I miss them. This year I am going to try to be more observant and not miss any joy God sends my way. I’m also going to try hard to bring more joy into the lives of others.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent is the Love Sunday. God’s love is everywhere we turn; especially during Advent and Christmas! Love came down at Christmas as the Baby Jesus. This is a love that gives abundantly on into eternity! Love is shared between us and between me and my family. I want to share love everywhere I go this season! I can share love with a tail wag or a lick or just by sitting near. I can share love by protecting and welcoming. I will even try to warmly greet and love those tall men wearing hats or glasses that so often frighten me! Everyone deserves to be loved.
Dear friends, I wish you buckets of hope, peace, joy and love during this Holy Season. May your Advent journey be meaningful. Know that God loves you, and I do too!
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Pastors will be back next week. The following message is another from Karen’s favorite devotional “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, October 12, 2022.”
October 12, 2022
Beware of seeing yourself through other people’s eyes. There are several dangers to this practice. First of all, it is nearly impossible to discern what others actually think of you. Moreover, their views of you are variable: subject to each viewer’s spiritual, emotional, and physical condition. The major problem with letting others define you is that it borders on idolatry. Your concern to please others dampens your desire to please Me, your Creator.
It is much more real to see yourself through My eyes. My gaze upon you is steady and sure, untainted by sin. Through My eyes you can see yourself as one who is deeply, eternally loved. Rest in My loving gaze, and you will receive deep Peace. Respond to My loving Presence by worshiping Me in spirit and in truth.
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
John 4:23-24 (NLT)23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Wishing you joy and peace in your day! Remember, God’s got this.
Pastors are away this week and next. The following message is from Karen’s favorite devotional “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, October 5, 2022.“
Jesus Calling: October 5th, 2022
Remember that Joy is not dependent on your circumstances. Some of the world’s most miserable people are those whose circumstances seem the most enviable. People who reach the top of the ladder career-wise are often surprised to find emptiness awaiting them. True Joy is a by-product of living in My Presence. Therefore you can experience it in palaces, in prisons…anywhere.
Do not judge a day as devoid of Joy just because it contains difficulties. Instead, concentrate on staying in communication with Me. Many of the problems that clamor for your attention will resolve themselves. Other matters you must deal with, but I will help you with them. If you make problem-solving secondary to the goal of living close to Me, you can find Joy even in your most difficult days.
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NLT)
17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
Wishing you joy and peace in your day! Remember, God’s got this.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in an early autumn day, and let us be glad that the much-needed rain has moved on! As we write this note, the furnace in the office is running in order to knock the chill out of the air (same thing happened at home!), but the colors on the trees are beginning to make their annual appearance, transforming the lush green of summer into the brilliant hues of fall. It’s a beautiful time to be in Northern Michigan, so grab a sweater and enjoy!
The transitions that take place as the seasons of the year change remind us of the transitions in life; there’s an inevitability about change that we accept, even if we don’t always like the change(s) that are occurring. Some of us can’t wait for spring and summer, so we can get the boat back in the water or break out the golf clubs; others of us look forward to the snowy seasons so we can wax up the skis and hit the slopes and trails. We may be anticipating retirement, moving to a new home, or sadly, facing medical concerns or the loss of a loved one. All of these changes, and countless others, are the stuff of life; we can’t stop the transitions, we can only adjust and adapt. Those adjustments and adaptations are made infinitely easier if we turn to our Gracious Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, for guidance and support in times of change. We must remember that the Holy Trinity is unchanging, unwavering, and limitless in resources, so no matter what changes present themselves to us, we can handle each and every one of them through faith and prayer. The Apostle Paul’s words from his letter to the Philippians says it well; I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
Karen and Greg
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9
Pastors will be away on vacation from October 1st through 10th. If a need arises, please contact the church office, or members of the Council, who will be able to contact Karen and Greg.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in one more day of summer, and let us be glad that the weather prognosticators aren’t calling for snow on the first day of fall tomorrow! It does appear that we’re going to enjoy one more day of warm temperatures, but it will be considerably cooler on Thursday; it might be time to consider breaking out a sweater or light jacket, but don’t put away all your warm-weather duds just yet – we’re sure to get several more very nice days to enjoy God’s Creation!
Which leads us directly to an invitation to join us on Tuesday (September 27) for the final Adopt-A-Highway event of 2022 (rain date is Thursday, September 29); this joint ministry outreach not only benefits the environment, beautifies our region, and gets all participants a big dose of fresh air, it strengthens the bonds between Westminster and Grand Lake. Please join us if you can! Even if you can’t join in the fun, please hold those who will be cleaning up the stretch of US-23 in your prayers for safety. And please hold our precious environment in your prayers and in your daily actions. We are called to be good stewards of God’s spectacular Creation; and to be honest, sometimes we come up a bit short in that category. Especially as we’re facing near-record prices for fuel and utilities, this is a good time to make sure furnace air filters are clean, windows and doors close snugly, and thermostats are set at proper levels (we’ve been surprised a couple of times!). Some of you might remember an anti-littering campaign from a few decades back that featured Iron Eyes Cody, a Native American leader who was depicted standing by a road when a bag of trash was thrown at his feet from a passing car; Iron Eyes shed a tear for the damage being done to the precious Earth, and God sheds a tear when we dishonor his Creation. Let’s all do what we can to use only what we truly need, clean up after ourselves (and maybe after others), and leave only footprints on the trails upon which we trod.
Karen and Greg
The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, But the earth He has given to the sons of men. Psalm 115:16
Wishing you joy and peace in your day! Remember, God’s got this.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in a few days of much-needed rain, and let us be glad for sunshine today! Our lawns and gardens look ever so much happier today, and the crispness of the air earlier in the day was actually kinda’ nice, even for those of us who aren’t ready to give up on shorts and sandals – it’s still summer until next Tuesday!!
This past Sunday, our nation and the world observed the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; for those among us old enough to remember that awful day, who remember where they were and what they were doing, it was a somber day. We lost a great deal of our collective innocence on that day, but for a brief, shining moment, we gained a sense of unity that was awe-inspiring. Our focus shifted from what separated us to what we have in common; from bitter arguments over the news of the day to solidarity as citizens of a nation under attack. Members of the “Greatest Generation” were heard to say that it felt like the days immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that drew the United States into World War II when we pulled together to defeat evil on a world-wide scale. In the days just before 9/11/2022, we heard a country-Western song that asked the question “Have we forgotten?”, and it seems that in many ways we have forgotten. The rhetoric we so often hear is harsh, divisive, and demeaning of the “other,” sometimes even within our communities of faith. This should not be; we are all called to be one in Christ Jesus, and if we’ve forgotten that, it is to our eternal shame. We don’t have to agree on everything, or even on most things, but we must agree that as children of the Most High God, we should be loving and kind and gentle with one another. Period.
Karen and Greg
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11