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Newsletter December 1 2018 New Beginnings at New Hope VOLUME 5, ISSUE 6

Forgiveness is a common theme in the Christian faith. We are told that God stands ready to forgive our most grievous sins, perhaps even over and over. We are also told that we should forgive others, (the Lord's Prayer, seventy times seven, etc). But what about forgiving ourselves? "Chronically engaging in self-recriminations (i.e., beating yourself up over and over for what you said or what you did) is being unforgiving toward yourself. Not forgiving others is harmful, but so is not forgiving oneself. When you donít forgive others it becomes a breeding ground for resentment and anger. When you donít forgive yourself, it deepens shame and guilt, and becomes a breeding ground for pathological self-blame." Psychology Today.

Probably good advice, maybe even one of the strongest themes in counseling and therapy. So what does the Bible say about forgiving yourself? Nothing. Nary a word. How can that be? Did it get edited out? Does God want us to be mired in self condemnation and pity as payment for our sins? Certainly not. Maybe it's because we don't understand the nature of God's forgiveness in the first place. "God loves you so much He felt you were worth dying for. When you run yourself down, youíre implying that He was wrong about you. But He canít be wrong. He is the One who sets the standards, He is the One who enables us to reach them, and He is the One who forgives and restores us when we fall short." Pastor David Jeremiah.

A discussion of God's forgiveness is always appropriate and timely. But it is perhaps best left for the present to the upcoming season of Lent, where we acknowledge our sins, repent and ask God for forgiveness. The Christian year begins with Advent for good reason. During these weeks leading to the birth of Jesus, we are in a spirit of anticipation, expectation and celebration. It is a season of hope. It is at the same time a season of dedication and commitment. In the midst of this joyous celebration, it can be a time for study. Though we go through Advent every year, there is always more to learn. For example, did you know that the manger was a special one, usually reserved for the lambs to be sacrificed in the temple? Or how about this promise from the angel Gabriel: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David." Luke 1:32. We know that Jesus did not occupy any such throne during his time on earth, so what's up with that? Well, we have a promise yet unfulfilled. This is the promise of the Second Coming, the Hope we have. Do you know your Jesus?

Wishing a blessed Christmas to all.

The four Sundays before Christmas mark the period when Christians anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ. Advent this year begins on December 2 and ends on December 23. Each Sunday is marked with a special candle for Love, Joy, Peace and Hope. Advent is about anticipation but also preparation. Advent is a period of spiritual preparation in which many Christians make themselves ready for the coming, or birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Celebrating Advent typically involves a season of prayer, fasting, and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope, and joy.

Kevin will have a sermon series, "Prepare the Way", for us during the four weeks leading to Advent. We will have a Christmas Eve service at 3 p.m. on Monday, December 24, to be follwed by a gathering in the Fellowship Hall.

Activity Log

The Christmas season is a busy time for us in many ways. There may be some who think it begins with Black Friday. But in our Christian tradition, it starts with the Hanging of the Greens. Our tradition includes a beautful tree, tall and stately and tastefully decorated. It also includes poinsettias placed in the sanctuary honoring the memory of loved ones. New Hopians got together on Saturday morning November 22 to provide the labor. In another Methodist tradition, we enjoyed a tasty breakfast after the work was done.

On Sunday, November 23, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the congregation enjoyed special music. Members of the Whetstone family performed "By The Mark", a beautiful bluesgrass number made popular by artist Jillian Welch. Lead vocalist Emily Whetstone, was joined by uncle Jeff (vocals and harmonica) and cousin, Jack Henry on guitar. Music is a great part of church worship and we are especially grateful when we can enjoy some homegrown talent.

Church Calendar

•  Monday, December 24. Christmas Eve service, 3 p.m. Followed by a dinner at the Fellowhip Hall.
•  Tuesday, December 25. Christmas Day.
•  Thursday, January 4. Resume Bible Study, Ephesians Chapter 4. Lesson 9.
New Hope UMC
Kevin Liles, Pastor kliles@umcsc.org    PO Box 54, Rowesville, SC 29133      Art Whetstone, Editor awhet@att.net