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Newsletter December 2, 2014 New Beginnings at New Hope VOLUME 3, ISSUE 6
Small Groups

The first Methodist small group consisted of John and Charles Wesley, William Morgan and Bob Kirkham. John had returned to Oxford as a fellow (professor) and was joined by the others from time to time for prayer and discussions of faith. Wesley would later refer to these meetings as "the first rise of Methodism."

Small groups continue to play a big part in the Methodist church, and for that matter, all churches. Bible Study, Disciples classes, campus ministries are examples. One church I know has just completed a study on Methodism and life of John Wesley. We can be sure that Wesley and his fellow stiudents didn't begin with the idea of founding a new religion. They just wanted to get together and strengthen their faith in an informal setting. Here are some thoughts on small groups from ShareTheFaith.com:

Small groups provide a way for Christians to live out their faith instead of merely hearing more preaching or teaching. If Sunday morning is for listening, then the rest of the week is for living. Whether it’s discussing the Sunday sermon, talking about a spiritual battle, or simply praying for one another, small groups create a context for Christians to live out their faith in real life.

•  Small groups encourage better learning. Listening to a sermon is a great way to learn the Word, but it is easy to become detached or daydream during a sermon. We become passive listeners. Not so in a small group. When a few people are together, every individual is expected to be involved and to participate. This active involvement is an effective way to learn better.

We finally have a small group study at New Hope which appears to have some traction. A Sunday School class was started a few months ago. We began by meeting every other week, but it was too hard to keep track of which lesson we were on. Now we meet every week. We're starting a new series on December 7. Come join us at 10:30. Immediate seating available.

From the Pastor

New Hope UMC is blessed to have beautiful Chrismons, hand crafted by ladies of our church some years past. Each one is intricately made, with attention to detail. We are thankful for the devotion and time that the ladies gave in order that we may enjoy the fruits of their labors during this joyful season of the Christian year.

The word Chrismon is a combination of the words Christ and Monogram, meaning “"symbols of Christ." Chrismons are always made in the colors of gold and white, representing majesty and purity. Ideas for fashioning Chrismons are developed from early Christian symbols, the Bible and from church histories. Decorating an evergreen tree with Chrismons makes the celebration of Jesus’ birth more meaningful during the holiday season as the life of Jesus is depicted in the ornaments.

Chrismons were first developed in 1957 by Frances Kipps Spencer of Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia. Some of the Chrismon symbols and their meanings are:

• Three Fish – one of the early signs of Christendom was the fish. The Greek word for fish is IXTHUS. The symbol is an acronym for the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.
• The 8-Pointed Star – symbolizes the Kingdom of God.
• Chi Rho – Two Greek letters which are the first letters in the Greek word for Christ.
• The Shepherd’s Crook – the symbol of the Good Shepherd (Jesus) and also for the shepherds who visited the manger in Bethlehem.
• Crown – Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
• Iota, Eta, Sigma in a Circle – These are the first three letters in the Greek word for Jesus. These letters in a circle (the symbol for eternity) remind us that Jesus gives us eternal life.
• Latin Cross – We are reminded that Christ died on the cross for us. This cross has roses on it (Flower of Mary). The top of the cross is a shepherd’s crook. The triangle is a symbol of the trinity.
• Triangle and Trinitarial Symbol – Both are symbols for the Triity.
• Three Circles interposed – symbolize the unity of the Trinity, yet the separate Persons thereof.
• Wheat and grapes – We are reminded of the wheat and grapes which make up the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.

These are just some of the Chrismon symbols and meanings. You are cordially invited to closely examine the lovely Chrismons on the Christmas Tree in the sanctuary during this Advent Season. There will be a booklet on the front pew near the tree which explains in detail more of the Chrismon symbols. May your Holiday Season, Advent the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ, and the celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day bring happiness and blessings to you.
God’s Grace Pastor Sandra

Special Donations

For Pastor Sandra's 70th birthday:
 • a Red/White Parament Set (table runner, pulpit scarf, bookmark) for the altar, by Mrs. Joseph (Rhea) Ashley.
 • a Nativity Creche for the sanctuary, by Mr. & Mrs. Cliff Eslinger.
 • a Communion Tray Set, Communion Table Cover, and Communion Elements Cover for the sanctuary, by Pastor Sandra.

We have raised a total of $1,060 for the handicap ramp from special contributions. Those persons donating thus far are Joyce Flowers, Linda Heape, David and Cathy Hutto, Clarence and Esther Higginbotham, Gilbert and Goldie O'cain, Newton Wannamaker, Sandra Whetsell and Art and Sue Whetstone.

December Fellowship Dinner

We cordially invite you to our December Fellowship Dinner on Sunday, December 14th after our Worship Service. We need an accurate headcount by Monday, December 8th. If you plan to attend, contact Pastor Sandra: 803-829-3252 or email  swhetsellbowman@aol.com.

Church Calendar

December 7. Council Meeting, immediately after church service.
•  Sunday, December 14. Fellowship Dinner, following church service.
•  Wednesday, December 24, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, 6 p.m.