Messages that Build a Christ Connection
The Lights of Christmas: Finding Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, and Christ
The concept of the Advent wreath originated among German Lutherans in the 16th Century. However, it was not until the 19th century that the modern Advent wreath took shape. Johann Hinrich Wichern, a Protestant pastor in Germany and a pioneer in urban mission work among the poor, is credited as the inventor of the modern Advent wreath. During Advent, the children at the mission school he founded in Hamburg would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. So in 1839, he built a large wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with 24 small red and 4 large white candles. A small candle was lit successively every weekday and Saturday during Advent. On Sundays, a large white candle was lit. The custom gained ground among Protestant churches in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with the 5 candles known today. Roman Catholics in Germany began to adopt the custom in the 1920s, and in the 1930s it spread to North America.
During this Advent, we will look at the themes of the Advent Wreath – Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, and Christ – in the context of another Advent tradition: reading from Isaiah’s famous passage from chapter 9:2, 6-7, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light… For a child is born to us…”
Come join us.
December 17 “Joy – Wonderful Counselor”
December 24 “Love – Everlasting Father”
Christmas Eve “Christ”
Generosity: Maturity of Faith
Generosity comes from God. We give thanks every day for His provisions, guidance, grace, and work through Jesus Christ. He has given us the sun, our world, the people in our lives, presence in the midst of blessing and trials, and hope for the resurrection to eternal life.
Part of the process of maturing in our faith is to become more like God in our generosity as well. We need to learn generosity in our time, talents, gifts and our service.
During November, we looked at generosity as part of our annual stewardship series.
November 5 What Does God Have to do with it? (Rev. George Cooper) Audio
November 11 Intentional Relationship with Jesus (Rev. George Cooper) Audio
Heroes: Amazing Stories of Faith
The Bible is full of heroes and their amazing stories of faith. They inspire and move us closer to God. They had their flaws, to be sure, but their faith has stood the test of time, and they continue to inspire young and old alike.
We looked at eight heroes – men and women, Old and New Testament – who inspire and challenge us to also be heroes of the faith.
September 10 David Text
October 15 John Text
What is Holy Communion?
Salvation. It’s a word we throw around a lot in the church. Preachers are always saying, “You need to get saved!” Saved from what? Things that go bump in the night? Bigfoot? The Boogie-Man? Why would someone need saved when most of the fears we have are imaginary. “Besides, doesn’t God love me, and won’t He take care of me, including letting me into heaven? Surely He wouldn’t send me to the other place. What kind of love is that?”
All of the world religions have a plan, a path they say leads to salvation, to heaven, or some blessed place or new existence. Even within Christianity, there are differences of opinion: Can I earn my way to heaven? Do I really need Jesus? Aren’t we all going to heaven anyway.
For three weeks, we looked at what the Bible has to say about salvation. We cleared up the confusion, found the Biblical truths, and became certain of “the Way.”
Rev. Stephen Luzader, Student Ministry Pastor of Christ UMC in Kettering, delivered a message based on 2 Samuel 21:15-19 entitled “They Do Get Woolly.”
August 6 “They Do Get Woolly” Audio
Back to the Basics
Gary talked about the basics of what the Gospel, the Good News.
July 30 “Back to Basics” Audio
“He’s Got Your Back”
Kathy Kitchel, our Youth Director, share a message from Romans 8:12-28 entitled “He’s Got Your Back.”
July 23 “He’s Got Your Back” Audio
Mission: Possible 2017
Each summer, we spend time talking about missions and helping us get involved – not just with the checkbook, but with our lives in service to Christ. This year, we heard from our Youth Mission Team, then from Keith Wasserman from Good Works in Athens, and then the reasons, the mandate, and the method for missions.
June 25 Youth Mission Team Audio Only
July 2 Keith Wasserman, Director of Good Works in Athens, OH Audio Only
It’s Somewhere: Looking for Answers
As we move through life, from place to place, we all have experiences that we would say are wonderful: learning to ride a bike, getting your driver’s license, graduating from high school, going to college, getting your first real job, getting married, having children, watching them do all those things you have done, then grandchildren. These are wonderful things, and we place the memories in boxes in the mind, like keepsakes, where we can pull them out whenever we want to smile, laugh, reflect, and feel better.
Unfortunately, we all know that as we travel through this life, we experience difficult or life altering times. Sometimes they are sudden; other times, they come upon us gradually. Sometimes they are completely devastating; others times, while difficult at the moment, life goes on.
And often, we ask ourselves, “Why do bad things happen?” And we start looking through the boxes of life where we have stored ideas, experiences, that we hope will help us through.
In our series “It’s Somewhere: Looking for Answers”, we explored the Bible to find the answers to some of the most difficult issues of life.
June 11 “How Can I Have Assurance?” Text
Journey to the Cross
But along the journey to the cross, He came across individuals and groups of people who needed Him. They were hurting, suffering, confused, angry… lost. And He stopped, saw them, and as Jesus always did, gave them new life.
During the season of Lent, we took that “Journey to the Cross,” watching from the sidelines what happened when people met the Savior, and discovered for ourselves how much Jesus can change our lives.
April 13 “A Bunch of Power Seekers Meet a Servant” Text
Acts of a Healthy Growing Church
We want more money, less debt. More muscle, less fat. More health, less aches. More security, less fear. More influence, less helplessness. More wisdom, less stupid. More love for God, for others. More faith, more prayer, more witness, more power.
Honestly, we want those same things for our church. More money, less debt. More muscle, less fat. More health, less aches. More security, less fear. More influence, less helplessness. More love for God, for others. More faith, more prayer, more witness, more power.
So, at the beginning of this new year, it is appropriate for us as a body of Christ to consider what it would take to be a new us this year. One with faith, one with prayer, one with witness, one with power. We want to be a healthy and growing congregation.
Our series “Acts of a Healthy Growing Church” looked at the Early Church through the book of Acts and see how they were healthy and growing.
It’s Your Time
How fitting is it that we begin the New Year in worship, renewing our covenant with God, and learning from Ecclesiastes that God has placed a time for everything.
And this year, it’s your time!
Just What We Needed
Sometimes we put items on our list that are wants. We don’t really need it, but we sure would like it: a new car, a puppy, a bracelet, a Blue-ray box set of something we have on DVD, a new crockpot (so that you can have 5), etc.
Others times, we put items on our Christmas list that are needs – things we really need: a new hoodie, some pajamas, a new winter coat, socks (who doesn’t need socks).
At the first Christmas, God gave the world a gift, and if was “Just What We Needed.” We learned what that gift was.
Christmas Cantata: Morning Star
Our Chancel Choir presented our Christmas Cantata “Morning Star: Celebrating the Everlasting Light of Christmas.” It is a message for all of us-that the message of Christ, the light of lights, needs to be heard. Each of us has experienced our own days, perhaps extended seasons, of darkness. But Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. (John 8:12)
The Cantata was directed by Carolyn Holland. Narrators were Gary and Myra Wheeler, Soloists were Cathy Butler, Randy Stiver, Larry Wiser, and Sandy Gebhart.
We hope you enjoy the music.
ABCs of Giving
Of course, one reason is to encourage everyone to help fund the ministry of the church. Without our offerings, VBS, church dinners, Sunday School material, music for the choirs and supporting our missionary and our staff does not happen. We talk about this every year because we plan on doing ministry every year.
We talk about stewardship every year to continually fight the societal push towards self-centeredness. Society wants us to do; focus on ourselves, acquire as much as you can whether you can afford it or not, and go into ridiculous levels of debt. So we talk about stewardship every year to combat society’s 24/7 influence of lies and deception.
But there is another reason we talk about stewardship every year: it’s important to God. We talk about Christmas and the birth of Christ every year. We talk about the passion, death and resurrection of Christ every year. We talk about the birth of the church every year. Why? Because these are important to God and to us. Likewise, stewardship is important to God.
This year, our stewardship series is called, “ABCs of Giving.”
Come join us and learn why stewardship is so important to God.
November 27 “The Power of Belief” Text
“I Love My Church”
Americans still think highly of the Church. A 2014 Pew Research survey, “How Americans Feel About Religious Groups,” shows the public places a high value on people of faith. Does the Church return the favor?
We say, “Yes, the Church values the local community, and has a responsibility to show that care and concern.”
During our series “I Love My Church”, we looked at ways we can love through connection, serving, giving, and sharing. We looked at various ways that we can intentionally love the church as we see what it is God intended for the community of faith. We talked about defeating the negative views of the church and see how God truly intended it to be. We shared the love that God has for people to everyone we meet.
October 30 “Love by Serving” Text
While Gary and Myra are on vacation, our guest preacher will be Rev. Wendy Lybarger. Wendy is the Assistant to the District Superintendent for the Miami Valley District. She is a wonderful preacher and passionate follower of Christ. She is married to Tom and they live in Clayton.
October 9 Found or Lost? Audio
We have some interesting ways we recognize stardom, heroes, and greatness. We hold up, almost worship people for what they can do as athletes or as singers or actors. We elevate people who are outlandish in their behavior and appetites. We look up to people who can do things that we mere mortals cannot. But these are only a select few.
All this means one thing: in a world that celebrates stardom, you and I mean nothing. We’re nothing because we can’t swim or run the fastest, or throw the ball the fastest or farthest, or sing the loudest and highest, or do the craziest stuff. We are nothing in a star crazed system.
But there is another system out there, one entirely different than our pop culture system. And instead of lifting the best, brightest, and beautiful, it strives to lift up… everyone… through the lowly act of One.
In our series “Lifted UP!”, we looked at a completely different system that started in the strangest way. And this system is seen best in something that a traveling preacher from Galilee once said:
“And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”
Jesus of Nazareth said those words just before He was lifted up on a Roman cross to be crucified. But how can a man condemned as a criminal lift up the rest of us?
We saw how we can be Lifted UP! if we lift Jesus into our lives.
“Heaven and Hell: Separating Fact from Fiction”
Why? Because people have a deep longing to know what’s next. What happens when we close our eyes for the last time and the veil of the next opens? What can we expect – if anything – after we die? Will there be anyone there we know?
During our series “Heaven and Hell: Separating Fact from Fiction”, we explored what the Bible tells us and see that Jesus – the only One who knows everything about heaven and eternity – has to say.
September 4 “When Will the Rest of Us Go?”
“The Days of Elijah”
We like our heroes. When we were children, we had them. They might have been superheroes, sports heroes, or entertainment heroes. It might have been a mom or a dad, even a big brother or sister. Their posters or magazines or CDs were in our room.
As we grow older, we are less enamored by our childhood heroes, but it doesn’t mean we still don’t have them. Maybe there are the same ones; maybe some new ones. We go to their concerts, wear their jerseys, read their books, follow them on Twitter, watch every show or movie they are in.
Have you ever wondered who Jesus’ hero was? Who did Jesus pretend to be when he was a little boy, or imagine himself to be like when he was a young teenager? Who might have been a pattern for him to follow in preparation for his ministry?
One of his heroes might have been Elijah? It certainly seems to have been the case for his cousin John later called the Baptist. Elijah was a powerful prophet, calling the people and the nation to repentance. Yet Elijah had his struggles, his doubts. He was just like us… except for his faith in God. Even in the dark and godless days of the reign of Ahab, Elijah declared the word of the Lord.
We studied some of the stories of the life of Elijah and learn how we can be voices in the desert crying, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”
July 17 Never Stop Audio (partial)
From June 19-July 10, we explored our new Covenant Partnership with the ministry of St. Paul United Methodist Church. We learned more about St. Paul and all the things they do, how to get more involve in their’s and other ministries, heard from our Youth Mission Trip, and endeavored to raise $2,400 for the ministry of St. Paul.Guest speakers inspired and encouraged us to fulfill one aspect of our 4G strategy: Go!
June 19 Rev. Dr. Steve Gill (pastor of St. Paul UMC): “Our Father’s Business” Audio
June 26 Susan Whigham (Hispanic Ministry Coordinator of St. Paul UMC’s Hispanic-Latino Ministry): “Welcoming the Stranger” Audio
July 3 Kathy Kitchel, Director of Youth Ministries, and the Youth Mission Team Audio
We studied Jesus’ story of the talents as we recognized and honor Marjorie Anslow’s retirement after 30 years of service to Christ and His church.
Pentecost changed everything. Disciples who once hid in fear of the religious leaders, who often did not understand the teachings of Jesus, who abandoned their Master when the soldiers came, now boldly proclaim the Gospel, the Good News, that Jesus is the Messiah, the One foretold by the prophets, crucified on a cross, raised from the dead. God’s only Son.
What was the difference? What changed?
The coming of the Holy Spirit changed everything. On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrated the Spirit’s coming and learned what the Spirit does in the life of Christian disciple.
May 15 He Has Come: Characteristics of the Holy Spirit Text
“What Every Mother Wants to Hear”
Worried about that all important Mother’s Day gift or card? What you can do to show the very special woman in your life how much she means to you?
Well, keep working on that. You won’t get off that easy.
But there are five things every mother wants to hear.
Check it out!
As citizens of America, we know that there are certain things we do together to help our society function:
- Obey our laws.
- Cast an informed vote.
- Pay our taxes.
- Find ways to help our community.
- Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.
The Bible tells us that Christians are citizens of another kingdom: the kingdom of God. Then what are the requirements of a Kingdom citizen.
We explored Jesus’ “Kingdom Parables” in Matthew 13 and discover the mysteries of Kingdom life.
April 3 It’s About the Soil – Part 1 Text Only
Lent. Some wonder what it is (it’s not what you find in your dryer; that’s spelled differently!)
Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) that the Christians observe in preparation for the suffering, death, then resurrection of Christ.
Lent is a time of self-denial and discipline. Some people give something up – candy, pop, Facebook, etc. – for Lent. Lent is a time of tradition. Some people eat fish on Friday, or wear ashes on their forehead. Lent is a time of repentance. Some people examine their hearts and ask for forgiveness for what they have done. Lent is a time for reflection. Some people consider if their actions, thoughts, and values represent who God calls them to be.
In the Gospel of John, there are a series of questions that help us understand this journey of Lent towards the cross.
“I Know Who I Am”
Many people make New Year’s resolutions. They might include living a healthier lifestyle, losing weight, spending more time with family and friends, stop cussing out the other drivers on the road, read more bedtime stories to your kids, pray more, doubt less, or others
The thing is that sometimes, we look at ourselves at the beginning of the New Year, and we see the behaviors, attitudes, conditions, and status of our current lives, and we have the little small voice of accusation that sounds more like a chorus, even a crowd yelling about what we are:
You fly off the handle.
You’re stuck in the mud.
You’re never going to get anywhere.
Ever heard those voices? You bet – those and others.
So as we began a new year, we talked about who we really are, stop listening to evil voices in our head and remind us who we are to God. During our series, “I Know Who I Am”, we studied the book of Ephesians and discovered, or rediscovered, who we are when we are followers of Christ.
January 24 Witness (by guest preacher Rev. Ken Galdeen) Audio
February 7 I’m a Member of Christ’s Body