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Newsletter December 1, 2017 New Beginnings at New Hope VOLUME 4, ISSUE 13
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

In Bible study last Thursday, the phrase, "bent to sinning" was used to describe our sinful nature. The author of our study guide, Ralph Wilson, gave credit to John Wesley for this apt description. However, it may be more familiar to us through John's brother, Charles, who used it in his marvelous hymn, Love Divine All Loves Excelling.

Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

A brief description of Charles' life is worth noting. "Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was a prolific hymn writer of the 18th century. Coming from a musical family, he left a lasting legacy of congregational song. The youngest of 18 children, Charles possessed prodigious talents that soon blossomed. Little did he know that "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," would rise to become one of the most popular and consistently vocalized Christian songs.

Writing hymn texts that are solidly based on the Scriptures gives them an appeal across denominational lines. It is estimated that during his lifetime, Wesley penned more than 9,000 poems of a spiritual nature, 6,000 of which are hymns. His writings were passionate and well-crafted, conveying the true essence of Christian teaching." - umcdiscipleship.org

Older brother John preserved many of his sermons for our inspiration and guidance but we are perhaps more blessed on Sunday worship with the memorable words of the hymns of Charles Wesley.

Now back to this "bent to sinning" business. In our study, Paul is telling the Galatians that although their belief in Jesus has freed them from the slavery of the Law, or from paganism in the case of the Gentiles, they (we) are still slaves to sin. "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature...." - Galatians 5:13. We do not face the temptation to sin alone. We have the Holy Spirit riding shotgun with us. From Wilson: "The struggle between the flesh and the Spirit is the crux of the Christian life. Itís important we understand this well. But the work of the Spirit is not just negative, to help us resist our corrupt sinful nature; it is also positive, growing in us the character of Christ." - Ralph Wilson, Galatians: Discipleship Lessons.

Love Divine is on page 384 in your Methodist Hymnal. It is also in the Anglican and the Episcopal hymnal and nearly ever other one in the Christian world. It has even been adapted to several different tunes. Take a few minutes and let Wesley's words awaken the Holy Spirit within you.
From Pastor Sandra

Advent Greetings!

It is the wonderful season that ushers in the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We see smiles on the faces of children and adults alike. It is a hectic, yet fun time of the year. Let us respond to the season, not only with gifts for family and friends, but also let us remember those who may be in need. It is the simple acts of kindness that God appreciates in our lives.

In Matthew 25: 33-46, we read the description of separating sheep and goats at the end of time. Sheep, those who have led righteous lives, will be on the right, a place of honor; whereas, the goats, those who have failed to put their faith in Jesus, will be doomed for eternal punishment.

It is the simple acts of kindness that separates sheep and goats in Our Fatherís eyes. Not great deeds for which one may receive public acknowledgment or a medal/plaque. It is the simple acts of kindness, the opportunities that are open to us each day that make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. For instance, visiting someone who is lonely/ill; taking food to a neighbor; making a phone call to someone who needs a lift in their lives; giving away the clothes you no longer wear; checking on the elderly; and so many other opportunities each day to enrich the life of another. We can truly live our faith, for faith without works is dead (James 2:20).

For many of these and other opportunities we have the best of intentions to actually do something. It is the sin of omission, those opportunities that we let pass us by that emphasizes the saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

True Disciples of Christ will love and serve with compassion and in doing so, serve Christ. The way we respond to others whom God puts in our lives, in turn, is the way we respond to Jesus. Each of us can make a difference. We are blessed to be a blessing.

Merry Christmas!
Pastor Sandra

Church Calendar

•  Saturday, December 2. Decorate sanctuary, 9 a.m..
•  Sunday, December 3. First Sunday of Advent.
•  Sunday, December 10. Second Sunday in Advent.
•  Sunday, December 17. Christmas breakfast, 10 a.m.; Third Sunday in Advent.
•  Sunday, December 24. Fourth Sunday in Advent, Christmas Eve.
•  December birthdays. Barbara Paul (11th), Vance Boone (12th), Miles McCorison (14th), Sandra Whetsell (14th), Louie Boone (15th), Sue Whetstone (27th).