Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! As always, I pray this note finds you well and in good spirit despite whatever challenges you may presently be facing. Know you are loved and appreciated.
Advent deepens and Christmas is near as I write. So a few quick reminders of the season:
The Christmas Cantata is right around the corner on Saturday, December 14, 4:00 p.m. in our Sanctuary. The Cantata is a masterwork of composer Joseph M. Martin entitled “The Winter Rose.” Sean Mann, our choir and musicians, as well as regional musicians and vocalists have been practicing the Cantata since late September. Come and enjoy this fragrant offering for the Advent/Christmas season next Saturday, December 14, 4:00 p.m. Invite a friend!
The SGPC annual Women’s Christmas Luncheon at Georgetown Country Club is Thursday, December 19, 11:30 a.m. Please note that the deadline for registration is December 15. The cost of the meal is $15.00, cash or check. Checks should be made out to SGPC and noted “Women’s Luncheon.” You may register online at www.sgpcvolunteers.org and follow the icon for the Women’s Christmas Luncheon. You can also register in the Narthex at the Kiosk on our new Welcome Table. Or, you may call the church office and register with Linda or Karalyn. Again, the DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION IS DECEMBER 15.
Toni Howell, our Director of Family Ministries, is asking for your help. Our children and Youth are stuffing small Christmas stockings with mini, small-sized candies like candy canes and small chocolate candies like Snickers, etc. The stockings will be given to a local ministry, Helping Hands, who will distribute the stockings to local children and youth who are underserved. If you would like to contribute candy, please bring your contributions to the church by Sunday, December 15, at 9:00 a.m. The children and youth will be stuffing the stockings during Sunday School on December 15.
I want to thank the many who showed up on Wednesday to decorate the Sanctuary and building for the Advent/Christmas season. A fun time was had by all! You will see a big difference when you enter the Sanctuary on Sunday. The Chrismon Tree in the East Wing of the Sanctuary is stunningly beautiful. There is still time to give a poinsettia in honor or memory of someone. The poinsettias will be used to create a Poinsettia Tree in the West Wing of the Sanctuary as Christmas approaches. The deadline for giving poinsettias is next Friday, December 13. You will find forms for poinsettia donations on the table in the Narthex under the bulletin boards. The cost is $15.00. Checks should be made out to SGPC and noted “Poinsettias.”
As is custom at SGPC, we will be receiving the Joy Gift Offering this Advent/Christmas season, beginning Sunday December 15. The Joy Gift is a denominational offering of the PCUSA. The offering is spilt, 50/50, between the Board of Pensions of the PCUSA and financial assistance to Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping students of color. The Board of Pensions uses the monies raised by the Joy Gift to offer assistance to current and retired church workers who are facing financial difficulties. I know two retired ministers whose financial resources are strained and are currently receiving financial grants from the Board of Pensions. These grants have allowed my friends to live in retirement without excessive financial anxiety. I thank you in advance for your generous consideration of this vital offering!
Once again I want to thank you for a very successful Stewardship Campaign. I cannot find better words to express my gratitude than the words of the Apostle Paul that your generous financial giving “not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God” (2 Cor. 9:12). Finance Elder, Ellis Gill, will give a short Minute for Mission in worship on Sunday with more details on the success of the campaign.
As the Lord’s Day, Sunday December 8, the Second Sunday of Advent approaches, a few items between us:
Adult Sunday School begins at 9:15 a.m. in Room #4. There is one, combined Adult Class for the month of December. Dr. Andy Dearman is leading the class. His overall title of the class is “Setting the Stage for Christianity.” Dr. Dearman’s specific topic for this Sunday is “Herod the Great and the Jerusalem Temple.” I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to hear from a careful scholar and wonderful teacher.
The scriptures for this Second Sunday of Advent are Isaiah 11:1-10 and Matthew 3:1-12. I am focusing on the Isaiah passages for the Sundays of Advent since the early church turned, and still turns, to the prophecies of Isaiah for hope and anticipation of a coming king who will embody and enact completely God’s justice, love, and mercy. This week is Isaiah’s remarkable prophecy of hope that “a shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” For its duration, the church has turned to this passage of Isaiah for its inspiration in Jesus Christ, proclaiming Jesus as the shoot and branch from the stump of King David’s father Jesse.
Please note the ecumenical Georgetown Wholeness Service meets this Sunday, December 8, at 6:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Georgetown. The Wholeness Service is two weeks early due to Christmas schedules. It normally meets the fourth Sunday of each month. Ginger Mann compiles the service each month and directs the musicians and choir. The service is meditative and reflective. I hope you take this opportunity for a unique worship experience in this season of Advent.
Last Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, I failed to mention in the worship announcements that we have Advent Devotionals available for you free of charge in the Narthex. One of the devotionals is “Joy to the World: 10 Christmas Reflections from Our Daily Bread.” The other devotional is from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary staff and students. It is entitled “Hopes.” You will find both devotionals on the table in the Narthex. Feel free to take one per household.
As we look ahead to Christmas Eve, please note that we WILL NOT have a Children’s Christmas Eve Service as we have the past three years. The Children’s Service will be combined with our traditional Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service. The combined service begins at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening, December 24. Christmas Eve is an opportune time to invite family, friends, and neighbors to experience the warmth and hospitality of SGPC.
That is all for now. Enjoy this beautiful weather. Be safe. Do good work. See you Sunday if you are able to attend.
Grace and Peace! Bill