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From the Pastor's Desk,

I really can't believe we're already preparing for Christmas. It seems like we just started 2017. Yet here we are in the midst of preparations experiencing Advent and all the energy and excitement that come with that season.

It's a time when we prepare our hearts to receive our Lord. It's a time when we should slow down the pace and allow ourselves to really take in the wonder of the Christmas experience. Just stop and think how one birth changed our of our lives for all eternity.

Yet the hustle and bustle of Christmas tends to eliminate this time. It blocks out our times of reflection and prevents us from truly appreciating all that is offered to us through Christmas. We need to battle back from these tendencies and spend some time pondering the wonder of God come to earth.

In each of your homes you have a choice. You can either let the rush of Christmas flood over you like a tsunami or you can take a more spiritual approach allowing God to speak to you in the silence of each day. You can allow yourself to be caught up in pressure to buy gifts and plan parties or you can focus on the true meaning of Christmas and realize that all those other things may be necessary but they're just distractions from what's really important.

I'm not saying that it's wrong to buy gifts or to celebrate with family and friends. I just urge you to control your Christmas experience and take time for what's really important. Jesus came to earth as a baby so we could have an eternal relationship with him, not so you could have an excuse to indulge in all the purchases that you avoided throughout the rest of the year.

Take time for Jesus this Christmas. As the baby in the manger needed to be nurtured, so too does your relationship with him. You need to need to feed it. You need to protect it. It needs to be a priority. That's when you'll really be able to celebrate Christmas as it was meant to be.

With the month of December we also begin thinking about the new year. Perhaps this is the year to deepen your relationship with Jesus by trying new things. Our faith is meant to be stretched and exercised. Jesus wants us to grow into disciples...not just followers.

We have many opportunities and possibilities for growth in the new year. There are bible studies for men and women. There are ways to use your gifts and talents in worship. The women's group is always looking for more people to lend a hand.

There are other opportunities that involve service. We're always looking for volunteers to provide special music or do children sermons. If you don't sing or want to speak up front, maybe you could take a month and line up the special music. We have opportunities up front and behind the scenes. There may be some openings with the tech team and if you can't find something there, I know that they can always use help at Little Lambs.

My point is that you shouldn't wait to be asked. The word volunteer implies that a volunteer volunteers of their own free will. They don't wait for an invitation. They don't expect to be pressured or cajoled. They become active because they want to become active. They see the benefits for themselves and want to contribute to the cause.

If you're thinking of stretching out of your comfort zone in 2018 please talk to Sue. She'll share some of the wonderful opportunities that can help you to grow. When we all band together we all keep the progression going forward and in the process we experience personal growth and vitality as well.

In His service,

Pastor Gary

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