The Gifts of Advent: Patience, Hope & Family

Written by Bonnie Scranton. Posted in The Seed

A gift is given freely and offered in love.  In the weeks before Christmas, we often race around finding just the right gifts for friends and family. But, as Pastor Tony wrote recently, “The gifts that we open on Christmas morning are nothing compared to the gift that God has given us in Jesus Christ. The gifts that we give and receive at Christmas are perishable, but the gift and promises that we have received in Jesus Christ—God’s only son—are “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:4).” The season of Advent is itself a gift from God—a time set apart to prepare our hearts for the coming of His son, Jesus Christ. We give thanks for God’s gift to us in that baby of Bethlehem.

Advent Evening Prayer Services

This year our mid-week Advent services highlight three gifts of Advent that become blessings in our lives: patience, hope, and family. We will once again use the “Holden Evening Prayer” setting as we contemplate these gifts. Services begin at 6:30 p.m. at Christ Lutheran. Please join us!

  • Dec. 4: The Gift of Patience – Waiting is hard. We eagerly anticipate the desires of our hearts and want them to come soon. Just as the farmer waits for crops or the fig tree waits for summer, we are reminded to be patient until the coming of the Lord. Our speaker will be Skylar Engle from Luther Memorial and special music will be provided by Amy Stollberg.

  • Dec. 11: The Gift of Hope – Hope is a word on which our future rests. We cannot know what will come, but with faith we place our hope in Christ. Our speaker will be Brandon Ross and special music will be provided by Roger Wegehenkel and John Moore.

  • Dec. 18: The Gift of Family – The Gospel of Matthew begins with a family tree from Abraham to Jesus and the Advent and Christmas seasons highlight the significance of family and friends in our lives. As God’s children, we become part of that great family tree. Our speaker will be Bonnie Scranton and special music will be provided by Cathy Flick.

Advent Daily Devotional Booklet

Our 2019 Advent Devotional Booklet focuses on the Advent gift of patience while we wait on Christ’s guidance, love, and support, knowing that waiting patiently on the Lord, if we do it correctly, is anything but passive. Waiting on Christ means getting closer to Him in order to discern His will in our lives. It means praying, and reading; listening and being humble; and constantly opening our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to the Lord’s will for us. Our booklet includes a devotional for each day from Dec. 1 – Dec. 24.

Devotionals this year were penned by Christ Lutheran members, friends, and saints. Many thanks to all who participated! Copies are available on the narthex table and will be posted on our website daily. We hope you will take time this Advent season to read about the various moments in life when our authors found themselves waiting on the Lord. If you can’t get to church and would like a booklet mailed or delivered to you, please contact Bree Wingerter in the church office, 217-224-1624.

Let’s Get Together! Time for Cottage Meetings

Written by Rev. Gayle Pope. Posted in The Seed

It’s been awhile. Last time we got together for cottage meetings was September 2015. Those discussions became the fodder for our current strategic plan. That plan has been “tweaked” over the last four years, but it’s time to put some deep thought and conversation into discerning where and how God is leading us in mission as we move forward.

Why now? Well, partly just because it’s been awhile and it’s important to stay alert to the Spirit’s direction and to listen to one another and not get complacent.

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
Psalm 95:7

The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.
Acts 11:21

But there’s also this looming transition … three more months and the pastoral leadership here will change. Taking time to listen to each other and to the Holy Spirit will help identify priorities and set forth a vision for the future.

Cottage meetings are set – please sign up!

Thanks to Matt Futhey, our congregation vice president, we have ten cottage meetings scheduled. We will have sign-up sheets in the narthex starting April 28. If you won’t be at church, call or email the church office and we will put your name down on one of the lists.  Meetings are as follows:

  • Sunday, May 5, 2 p.m. – Matt Futhey
  • Tuesday, May 7, 10 a.m. – Brian & Bonnie Cox
  • Thursday, May 9, 7 p.m. – Tafi & Sam Lathrop
  • Friday, May 10, 2 p.m. – Judy Heilmann
  • Saturday, May 11, 7 p.m. - Conny & Keith Gerhardt
  • Wednesday, May 15, 10 a.m. – Corrine & Joe Sutcliffe
  • Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m. – Kathy & Charlie Buckman
  • Thursday, May 16, 7 p.m. – Pat & Stu Bell
  • Friday, May 17, 2 p.m. – Joan Kammerlohr
  • Sunday, May 19, 10:45 a.m. – At Church

What happens at a cottage meeting?

President Dick Tabb and I have put together a guide for the meetings, beginning with prayer, then a quick ice breaker question, a time of Bible reflection on how the Hand of God guides and empowers us, and finally, conversation around five questions about our mission and ministry stemming from the results of our CAT survey.

Each session will have a facilitator and a volunteer note taker. Lest that sound too formal, rest assured there is always time for chit chat, laughter and sharing about whatever happens to surface. Plan on at least 90 minutes. We will compile notes from all the sessions.

What comes next?

Council members, Ministry Team and Committee leaders and any other interested members will gather on Saturday morning, June 1, from 9 to noon to review our current strategic plan goals and objectives and update them in light of the input received. Brainstorming and flip charts taped to the wall may well be involved. After that, Ministry Teams and Committees will have time to fine tune areas that involve them and, hopefully, we will have an updated plan by the end of July to guide us into the future.