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Newsletter December 2, 2015 New Beginnings at New Hope VOLUME 3, ISSUE 18
Good Infection

We are now in the Advent season of the year. During this special time, we will light candles for Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and finally for Christ. These candles are expressions of who Christ is and what he offers us. Theologian C. S. Lewis has something to say on accepting his offer.

"Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire. If you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if he chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you; if you are not, you will remain dry (p. 176)." Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

When Christ pours out his love on us, it never stops. Think of a pitcher of water filling a glass. The glass may become full but the pitcher (Christ's love) is bottomless and never empties out. When the glass is full, it overflows. When one is filled with the love of Christ it too overflows so that it may be seen by others. This is seen as sort of a light, maybe a radiance. It creates something like a magnetic field, if you will, where others are drawn into it like a moth to a flame. It "infects" others with love and goodness. So if you have trouble feeling close to God, do not despair. Seek out someone who has been "infected" with the love of Jesus. They're not hard to find. Just look for the light. Warning: it is contagious and you may in turn infect others.
From the Pastor

The Christian Year begins with the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is the four week period as we anticipate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Advent ends at sundown on December 24th. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but we are also anticipating the second coming – the End Times – when Jesus will return to the earth. Advent is a joyous time of year; our hearts are filled with anticipation; we decorate our sanctuary, our homes, our offices. Children are excited. There is an awareness of the "coming."

As we remember the story of the Birth of Jesus, let us focus on the Shepherds on that night that changed history. Why did the angels come to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Messiah? Among the Jews at the time of Christ’s birth, shepherds were held in very low esteem. In Jewish law books, the Talmud, it is written that shepherds were not allowed in the courts to be witnesses. In fact The Talmud instructs that no help be given to heathens or to shepherds. Shepherds were despised because they were unable to attend temple services and to keep the rituals and ceremonial laws as their flocks kept them from practicing their religion. Shepherds generally came from the base elements of society. Most shepherds were considered on a par with Gypsies, vagrants, and con men. They were on the lowest rung of the economic ladder and had little or no formal education.

According to Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, “somewhere deep in Jewish tradition (revealed in writings called the Mishnah), a belief had arisen that the Messiah would be revealed from the Migdal Eder (the tower of the flock). This tower stood close to Bethlehem on the road to Jerusalem, and the sheep that pastured there were not the type used for ordinary purposes. The shepherds working there, in fact, took care of the temple-flocks, the sheep meant for sacrifice.” These are the shepherds to whom the angels appeared.

On the night that Jesus was born only Joseph and Mary and the shepherds knew that the Savior had been born. After “the 400 silent years,” when God did not speak through prophets, He now speaks through angels to the lowly shepherds on a remote hillside outside a tiny Judean village. (Pritchard, Ray. Twas the Day After Christmas).

If man had planned this momentous event, Jesus would have been born in Jerusalem to a wealthy family, and attended by the high and mighty. That way no one would doubt that the Son Of God had come to earth. As Dr. Pritchard points out: But God’s ways and ours are not the same. He chose to reveal the news to the shepherds first of all. After their initial fear, they responded in faith. They believed the angels, they immediately went to Bethlehem, and they found the baby Jesus. Everything was just as the angels had said it would be.

The first news of the birth of Jesus Christ was not revealed to kings or rulers. It was not revealed to the religious elite. When God came to earth, He let the world know by announcing the birth of His Son to lowly shepherds. Perhaps God wanted the poor and outcast of society to know that they were important. God wanted all of us to understand the qualities of love, mercy, and compassion are to be extended to everyone regardless of their social standing. Let us rejoice in this Season of Advent.

Joy and Peace
Sandra Whetsell

Luke

Last Sunday, we celebrated the beginning of Advent with a special service commemorating the birth of Jesus. The Nativity story that was part of our service is from the gospel of Luke. Matthew brings us the wise men and Luke describes the Nativity. The other gospels, Mark and John, begin at other points in Jesus' life. As has been reported previously in this column, Luke was a native of Antioch in Syria. He was not a disciple of Jesus and probably never met him. He was a Gentile, thus an early Syrian Christian convert, certainly one of the first. Today Syrian Christians are being being persecuted and forced to flee their homeland. Please remember in your prayers these persecuted Syrians who are so much a part of our Christian heritage.
Windows Update

We have received $4,000 to date designated specifically for the window repairs and upgrades. In addition, we have received honorariums and memorials totalling $2,500, which will be used for the project. The deposit on the first phase has been disbursed and the work should begin early in 2016. This abundant outpouring from our members and friends shows a true love of the Lord. It also shows a special fondness for New Hope church which has meant much to us through the years. It is truly gratifying and reassuring to know that our church will be made beautiful inside and out. Thanks to your generosity, we are well on our way toward making this happen. May God bless you.
Church Calendar

•  December 24. Christmas Eve Candle Lighting Service, 6 pm.
•  December birthdays. Vance Boone (12th), Sandra Whetsell (14th), Sue Whetstone (27th) .