Friday, December 2, 2011


Every year we say we’re going to cut back and have a family Christmas that focuses on the real reason for the season— Jesus. But every year, advertisements beckon, the children plead, and it seems easier just to indulge our wants and whims. Overspending, overeating, materialism, and busyness rob us of our peace and joy and rob Jesus of his rightful role as the center of our celebration.  This Christmas, cut through the hype that leaves you exhausted and broke at the end of the year.  Instead, experience the peace of knowing that God is truly with us, the joy of giving sacrificially, and the love of a Savior who gave everything he had for us. In five short, engaging chapters, Pastor Mike Slaughter inspires readers to approach Christmas differently and to be transformed in the process. 

Throughout the Advent season I will be preaching a series based on the book Christmas Is Not Your Birthday, by Mike Slaughter. Christmas Is Not Your Birthday casts a vision for how Christians can experience the true joy of living and giving like Jesus begin­ning with the Christmas season and continuing as a lifestyle.  Topics include:  Expect a Miracle, Giving Up on Perfect, Scandalous Love, Jesus’ Wish List, and By a Different Road. In addition, during the first half of the Sunday morning education hour [9:35-10:10] I will lead a discussion on his advent preaching series and the book by Mike Slaughter: Christmas Is Not Your Birthday.  A limited number of discounted books are available through the church office. Each participant will receive a free study guide. Join us for this revolutionary examination of the Christmas season.

The Christmas Giving Tree is now decorated with name tags in the Narthex.   Please help our church give some Christmas joy to less fortunate families.  Your generosity in the past has been greatly appreciated. Gifts need to be returned to the church office by December 14 with the tags attached.   Contact Beverly Sterling if you have questions at 842-5286.

Salvation Army Bell Ringers are still needed.   Please sign up in the Narthex or contact Merna if you are interested in ringing.  A schedule of the bell ringing dates, times, and locations can be found at

The Community Christmas Dinner will take place on December 25 at noon in WFH.  We are asking for cook helpers, servers, and cleanup.  Food supplies are needed to feed 100+ guests.  Cash donations would be greatly appreciated.  

The Education Cluster is in need of some enthusiastic members to help plan and direct the educational opportunities of the church.  If this sounds like something you would enjoy please contact Pastor Lane or Katie Bishop.

Be part of the solution to alleviate hunger… Scan Away Hunger 2011 began the day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 25 – and runs through Christmas Day. Scan Away Hunger 2011 began the day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 25 – and runs through Christmas Day. Scan Away Hunger plates are available at participating Hy-Vee stores.  Then, just take the plate and say, “I’d like to fill a plate with hope.” Each time the checker scans the code on your Scan Away Hunger plate, $2.80 is added to your bill to feed and care for homeless and hungry people at Hope Ministries.  All funds received through Scan Away Hunger will be used to help feed and care for homeless and hungry men, women and children in Des Moines and central Iowa throughout the year. In 2010, this holiday outreach generated over $79,000!

"Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn't working harder at a list of do's and don'ts — it's falling in love with God."  ~ Francis Chan
Our next Sermon Series begins on January 22 going through the Lent season is based on the book Crazy Love. To assist you in your journey to grow closer in your relationships with God and others, we will have corresponding small group curriculum and a reading schedule for the book, Crazy Love. A limited number of discounted books are available for $11 in the church office.

This year we will be using devotional booklets provided by the Society of St. Andrews entitled ‘Passing the Peace’ for our Advent devotions for the Advent season November 27-December 25.  Booklets are available at the church office window ledge.

Rehearsal for the Sunday school Christmas program will be held on Wed, December 7 at 7:00 p.m.  Dress rehearsal will last about 1 hour.

The children’s Sunday school Christmas program will be held on Sunday, December 11 at 5:00 p.m. followed by a reception in WFH. All students that are in Sunday school will have parts.  This will be a special event this year as the FUMC Youth are writing and directing the entire program.  Please come join us!

The Montgomery Street Preschool Christmas Program will be held on Tuesday, December 20 at 9:00 a.m.  A reception for families will be held in West Fellowship immediately following the program.

Salt & Light Company will be meeting on December 4 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and also on December 18 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.  The schedule for 2012 will be released next month.

Condolences to Bre and Brian Brooks and family on the passing of their newborn son, Benjamin Brian Brooks. 

Condolences to the family of Vivian Nash on her passing. 

Condolences to the family of Ruth Willis on her passing.

Thanks to the FUN Group for again having MSPS be a part of the Harvest Dinner and thanks to all that attended for making it a wonderful event!

Thank you for your support of Ingathering.  Thanks to the circles of the church for helping to make kits and money to purchase supplies.   Thanks to Edna Poortinga that faithfully came to put the kits together weekly.  Thanks to Leona Steele for sewing all the receiving blankets and school bags and doing all the alterations to undershirts.   Can’t do this project without help!   Thanks to the men that loaded the van!   Thanks to Folmer for making things come together.  Thank you to Jack Sterling for driving to Mt. Pleasant.  It takes an army.  493 kits valuing $7152 were made.  Sincerely, Loretta Kono

A New Well for UNICEF!  Young Disciples and adults from the FUMC gathered for fellowship and service as they participated in a UNICEF Party going around the neighborhoods in our community collecting money for a well.  Fun was had by all and and a great feeling of satisfaction was gained in knowing the funds raised will benefit those in need.  If you received a visit from one of the church youth collecting, we would like to thank you for your gracious contribution to the well fund.  Over $500 was raised, enough to buy one well to provide safe water for a whole community.  Great Job!

There will be no Sunday school classes on December 25 or January 1.

The church office will be closed Monday, December 26 for the Christmas holiday as well as Monday, January 2 for the New Year holiday.

Two very special candlelight services will be held on Saturday, December 24 at 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

On Christmas day, one combined service will be held on Sunday, December 25 at 10:45 a.m.

A combined service will be held on Sunday, January 1 at 8:30 a.m.  

December 3-4
Isa. 40:1-11 Ps. 85:12, 8-13, 2 Pet. 3:8-15a Mark 1:1-8

December 10-11
Isa. 61:1-14, 8-11 Ps. 126 1 Thess.5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

December 17-18
2 Sam. 7:1-11, 16
Luke 1:47-55 Rom. 16:25-27 Luke 1:26-38

December 24-25
Isa. 52:7-10 Ps. 98 Heb.1:1-4 John 1:1-14


John Wesley on Prevenient Grace 
Sarah Heaner Lancaster
the WORD "prevenient" comes from two Latin words that together mean "coming before." To say that grace is prevenient, then, is to say that God's grace comes to us before anything we do on our part to try to gain it. Grace, which is best under­stood as God's power and presence in our lives, is already at work in us to draw us to God even before we knowingly respond.
All of us are born needing God to be present and at work in us to bring us to the fullness of life that God has to offer. God begins to address this condition before we are even aware of it. One of the reasons United Methodists baptize infants is to demonstrate that both this human need and God's gracious fulfillment of that need are present from the beginning of our lives. Sometimes Wesley used the phrase "pre­venient grace" to refer to this early work of God, and he used other phrases (such as justifying grace and sanctifying grace) to refer to other aspects of God's work. When he speaks of it in this way, Wesley could describe prevenient grace as available to every human being, making us aware of God, drawing us to God, helping us know right from wrong, and bringing forth our earliest responses to God's love.
The word "prevenient" can also describe the way that Wesley thought about every aspect of grace, even when he called it "justifying" or "sanctifying." God's grace comes before anything we do, regardless of the kind of work it accomplishes in us. Grace makes us capable of responding to God. It shows us where we fall short of what God intends for us. It calls us to repentance for our sin. It helps us to become increas­ingly Christ-like. It fills us with love for God and love for neighbor. Wesley can describe grace in other ways for these situations, but in every case, God's love comes before and calls forth our response.
Thinking of grace as prevenient in this broader sense reminds us that God empowers us at every step along the way of salvation. When we affirm with the Apostle Paul that we are justified by faith, we recognize that God's grace makes that faith possible. It is never simply up to us to choose or decide to be in relationship with God. Before we open ourselves, God has already been reaching out to draw us into that relationship. Similarly, we never do good works simply on our own. God empowers us to act in love so that all our efforts are rooted in God's grace. It is cer­tainly possible to resist the promptings of grace, but when we do cooperate as we should, we acknowledge that God has prepared the way for us to follow.
At the heart of the Wesleyan understanding of prevenient grace, then, is recog­nition of God's initiative to reach out to us and of our continual dependence on God's support to become the people that God created us to be. God's action antici­pates, invites, and enables our reaction. We may trust that God is always ahead of us, making us ready so that we may turn to the God who is already there to receive us.

A Time to Celebrate the Christmas Gift of God’s Grace
Bishop Coyner
the season OF Advent and Christmas is a joyous time in all of our United Methodist churches, and yet it affords some special challenges for us to teach a Wesleyan understanding of this gift of Christ without falling into the consumerism and crassness of our culture. While much of the world is focusing upon the exchange of gifts, our Wesleyan values remind us that the coming of Christ is a sign of God's prevenient grace.
How can we celebrate Christmas as United Methodists in an authentic and help­ful way? Certainly, any celebration begins with the acknowledgment that God loved us first. Before we ever knew or earned God's love, God loved us first and demon­strated that love through the sending of Jesus Christ into the world. Therefore, our music, our sermons, our Sunday school lessons, and our personal devotions need to focus upon remembering how God's love surrounded our lives even before we responded. "While we were yet sinners" is the way Paul expresses this truth in Romans 5. He indicates that God's love came to us before we did anything to deserve it.
One way for congregations to celebrate this true meaning of Christmas is to focus upon giving to others who may or may not deserve our gifts. Everything from mitten trees, to gifts for needy families, to Christmas caroling for homebound per­sons can be signs of sharing God's love with others.
Some churches have started offering "Christmas Bible School" for children dur­ing December as a way of allowing parents to run errands (even Christmas shopping) while the children spend an evening each week at church learning the true meaning of Christmas, practicing a Christmas play or songs, and then sharing a worship time with their parents just before Christmas. Such a Christmas Bible School can be a wonderful outreach to the community, too, and it can lead naturally into an invita­tion to join the congregation for Advent and Christmas Eve worship.
On an individual level, December is a time for personal devotions that focus upon remembering and looking back upon our lives to see how God's grace has been evident in the ways, circumstances, and people who have blessed us and moved us toward God. For many persons, that will be recognition that Jesus was indeed "born at night" or at least born into the darkness of our world and our lives. The Gospels tell of a nighttime birth, which reminds us that the gift of God's grace comes into the darkness of our lives to offer light, hope, and love. As Isaiah declares, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2). Perhaps December is a time to remember with gratitude how God's prevenient grace has come to us as a light in our darkness.
December is truly a month to celebrate the Christmas Gift of God's Grace.

Children’s Christmas Program December 11 at 5:00 p.m. with refreshments immediately following.

MSPS Christmas Program December 20 at 9:00 a.m. 

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services December 24 at 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

Christmas Day Combined Service December 25 at 10:45 a.m.  

Community Christmas Dinner  December 25 at Noon in WFH 

New Year’s Day Combined Service  January 1, 2012 at 8:30 a.m.

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