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Tag Archive | "Christmas"

What is Christmas all about?


Grace-ChurchPastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

Let me assure you that this is not another anti-santa and presents presentation from a delusional and out of touch Pastor. This is a heartfelt, honest, and open communication from a child of God who realized two months ago that he was no longer amazed like he should be by the Christmas Story. As I sat in my office with the task ahead of me of preparing a sermon series on Christmas, I realized that I didn’t want to preach on Christmas again, because I was sadly unmoved and unimpressed. I prayed that God would open my eyes and help me to stand in wonder at the story of the birth of His only Son. He did, and below is what He reminded me of. (This is a brief recap of 3 weeks of sermons that I shared with our Church. You can find those videos in their entirety online at www.gracerockford.com.)

1.  Christmas is about a Child. Isaiah 9:6,7:  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…”

There is this great list in the following verse of all the things that this child will be: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.  It’s no doubt this child was special; but let’s not forget He was still a child, He was still a Son. Christmas is about God sending His one and only Son. What love, what mercy, what a miracle! As a father of four children, I would never consider giving them up for the welfare of another. After all, it’s my job to protect them. But on Christmas day, God gave his son up for the welfare of mankind. Christmas is about a child, let us not forget.

2.  Christmas is about a Savior. Luke 2:9-12: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born…”

There are many words that Scripture uses to describe this idea of a Savior. Words like rescue, heal, deliver, redeem, and atone. All of these words indicate that those being saved, have a problem that they can’t remedy. If they could, they wouldn’t need a Savior. Christmas is about God sending his Son to remedy a problem that you and I had and could not fix. The problem of our sin would have most definitely resulted in eternal condemnation unless someone came and rescued us, delivered us, redeemed us. Christmas is all about Jesus coming to do just that, set us free.

3.  Christmas is about a Cross. Galatians 4:3-5; 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…”

This child, that was born to save, could only do it by being crucified on a cross, and thus bearing our curse as he hung in our place. Many times we look at our nativity sets and everything looks so peaceful, but in reality that little baby was born in a manger to be murdered on a cross! Let us not forget that the peacefulness of Christmas will soon be destroyed by the punishment and the death that we each deserved being taken out on the perfect, innocent Son of God.

Christmas is about a Child, a Savior and a Cross.  I pray that this Christmas we will spend time worshipping the one who became a child, in order to be our savior, so that he might bear the punishment and death of our cross!

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Let It Be


by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

For the longest time I thought a “Hail Mary” was a desperate, last-ditch throw at the end of a football game. Having been raised in one of the more contrary factions of Protestantism, you can’t blame me.

Well, all these years later, I understand why some find the “Hail Mary,” or Ave Maria, so gripping. “Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus,” comes straight from the Christmas text of Luke. It is Gabriel’s announcement that Mary will give birth to the Christ child, the Son of God.

Luke’s emphasis is not on her virginity, however, it is on her capitulation. Mary’s response to her miraculous motherhood is an act of complete surrender, as she says to Gabriel, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Let it be: Where have we heard those words before?

The song “Let it Be” was written by Paul McCartney at a difficult time: The Beatles were on the skids, suffering from their success, and Paul was lost, drunk, and confused. Feeling this misery, he longed for the comfort of his mother—her name was Mary—who had died when he was 14.

It was during this time that Paul’s mother came to him in a dream, he says. And she said to him, “Paul, let it be.” McCartney awoke, went to the piano, and wrote the now classic song: “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me…There will be an answer, let it be.”

When Mary—the mother of Jesus, not the mother of Paul—said, “Let it be,” she wasn’t despairing of life. She was receiving the way of God for her life. She was admitting that her designs for living would be set aside so that God’s design for her life would come to fruition. Hers, like McCartney’s, was a song of surrender. It was a song of submission to a higher and better way.

Now, this sounds like losing, like we are giving up, but we lose nothing. We gain everything. By accepting how the world actually is, accepting who we really are, and accepting what God wants for us, we move forward with peace. We collapse into the strength and will of the Almighty. To confess such a thing is to indeed be full of grace.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me

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Toys for Tots


Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

 

Thank you to everyone who donated to Toys for Tots! You’ve been giving some great gifts, especially the ones for teens and preteens, who are often overlooked when buying gifts for this type of program. We had one person come in with six huge bags full of presents—how fun is that? It felt like Christmas! We are excited for all the kids who will be happy on Christmas morning!

If you haven’t yet donated or want to donate more toys, our last pickup will probably be Friday, so try to get it here Thursday or first thing Friday morning if you can. We are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you need alternate hours, please call us at 696-3655.

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Celebrate the joy of Christmas


at one of the churches in our community:

Dec. 15, 17, 22, 24, 29: Celebrate the coming of Christ at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, 140 S. Main, Cedar Springs. On Dec. 15 at 10:30 a.m., our kids will share the Good News with “Christmas Counts” and a presentation of “The Reluctant Innkeeper.”  On Dec. 17 at 7:00 p.m., we offer a Blue Christmas worship service of hope and healing for those who struggle with life circumstances. Childcare is provided. On Dec. 22, our adult choir presents a cantata called “All is Well” in the 9:00 a.m. worship service. Join us on Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) to welcome the Christ child into our hearts and lives.  We offer two worship services: 7:00 p.m. (supervised childcare provided for ages 0-3 and special Children’s Time) and 10:00 p.m. Both services include Holy Communion and candlelighting. Then, on Dec. 29, we worship at 10:00 a.m. and celebrate the joy of the Christmas season! For more information, please call (616) 696-1140 or visit us online: www.cedarspringsumc.org

 

Dec. 15, 22, 24: Join First Baptist Church of Cedar Springs, at the corner of Main and Muskegon Street, for their Christmas program, “Pointing to Jesus,” on December 15, at 5 p.m. On Sunday, December 22, hear the Christmas message, “Anticipation: Imminent” (based on Luke 1:45-55, and 2:1-14). They will also hold a Christmas Eve service on December 24 at 7 p.m. at the church.

Dec. 15, 24: The children of the Solon Center Wesleyan Church will celebrate the birth of the Savior with a Christmas program “What Will You Give to Jesus?” on Sunday, December 15 at 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. The children will perform in both services. The church will also celebrate Jesus’ birth with a Candlelight Christmas Eve Service on Tuesday, December 24 at 6 p.m. The church is located at 15671 Algoma Avenue, just north of 19 Mile Road. Everyone welcome!

 

Dec. 20, 22, 24: Join The Springs Church on Friday, December 20, at 6:30 p.m., when their worship band performs a fabulous concert of your favorite, fun Christmas songs to get you in the mood for Christmas. Proceeds from low cost tickets ($3/person or $10 per family) go to help fund the church’s “Bless the children” ministry, which provides clothing for children in the community. Fun for the whole family! They also invite you to their Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Tuesday, December 24at 7 p.m. Feel free to come as you are, and bring friends and family, too! There will be glo-sticks for the kids. The Sunday, Dec. 22 message (at 9:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.) is part of the series “Advent Conspiracy.” We are located on the corner of Oak & First Streets in Cedar Springs. For more information visit our website www.thespringschurch.info or call 616.696.2970. We hope to see you at The Springs this Christmas!

 

Dec. 22, 24: Hillcrest Community Church of God Welcomes you on Sunday, December 22, at 10:45 a.m., to enjoy a down home Christmas play.  Come and be a part of our studio audience at our live broadcast. Watch families reenact the Holy Nativity, and we’ll all sing Christmas carols together. Then the Christmas Eve Candlelight service will be December 24, at 6:30 p.m.  Won’t you join us in celebrating the birth of The King!  There will be refreshments following both services. We are located at 5994 18Mile Rd, Cedar Springs, MI.  For questions please call 616-696-9333.

 

Dec, 22, 25: Join Pioneer Christian Reformed on December 22 at 6 p.m. for a Blue Christmas Service. While Christmas is a time that many look forward to and things like joy and happiness mark this time of year, others have a particularly hard time during the Christmas season. Join us for a Blue Christmas Service where we will acknowledge the difficulty that Christmas can present and offer some help for the pain. You are also invited to our Christmas Day Service on Wednesday, December 25, at 10 a.m. Come celebrate with us the birth of our Savior. Pioneer CRC meets at 3592 17 Mile RD NE Cedar Springs, MI, 49319 (Next To Meijer)  Phone: 696-9120 Web: www.pioneercrc.org.

 

Dec. 24: Calvary Assembly of God (810 17 Mile Road) will offer its annual Candlelight Christmas Eve service on Tuesday, December 24, at 6:30pm. This is a relaxing and joy-filled hour of hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and a reminder of the reason for the season of Christmas. Get more details at http://cscalvary.org.

 

Dec. 24: We’ll be doing what we do best this Christmas season at Courtland-Oakfield UMC with simple celebrations of God’s gifts of friends and family, symbols and traditions, carols and Christ … especially Christ. Our Christmas Eve Candlelight service at 7:00 p.m. will be a time to take a restful break and listen as God Whispers Love. We are located at 10295 Myers Lake NE. Check out our website, www.coumc.com, or visit us on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/COUMC

Dec. 24: East Nelson United Methodist Church, 9024  18 Mile Rd. NE will be holding a Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. Come celebrate the blessed birth with us!

 

Dec. 24: Please join us at 7 p.m. for a traditional Christmas Eve Worship service with music and Holy Eucharist at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church.  We are located at 1200 Post Drive NE, Belmont, at the intersection of Post & Pine Island drives, 1/4 mile west of Exit 95 (Belmont) of US Route 131. Visit us online at www.holyspiritbelmont.org or www.facebook.com/holyspiritbelmont.

 

Dec. 24: We encourage you to join us at Resurrection Lutheran Church of Sand Lake, for a Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service, at 7 p.m. Resurrection Lutheran Church is located just south of Sand Lake, off from Northland Drive. It will be a wonderful service, in honor of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as we celebrate His birth. For more information, 616-636-5502.

 

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Tour of lights


 

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When you are out looking at Christmas lights this holiday season, be sure to swing through Sand Lake and see this beautiful display near the corner of Beech and Maple Streets. Kids will love it! Bob and Tracey Fitzgerald love decorating for Christmas, and their holiday display brightens up the whole corner!

Have you decorated the outside of your home for the holidays? Or, do you know of a home that has a great display? The annual Post Tour of Lights map is in production, and we’d like to add your addresses to the list! Email us the information so that we can all have the joy of driving by and seeing the beautiful displays. Or, if you drive by someone’s home and would like to add them, you can do that too! Email us at news@cedarspringspost.com, and put “Tour of Lights” in the subject line.

 

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Drop off your toys at the Post


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We’ve been getting some great toys here at the Post for Toys for Tots—keep them coming! We love partnering with you to provide toys for kids in our greater community who might otherwise do without. We will collect them through the end of next week. So don’t delay!

Toys for Tots is a volunteer organization whose goal is to collect new, unwrapped toys for kids 0-16, and distribute them to children who would not otherwise receive a gift during the holiday season. Toys for teens are especially needed.

Just bring a new, unwrapped toy to our office at 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you can’t make that time, call us to make other arrangements.

Together we can make this Christmas special for many children!

 

 

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Christmas in Sand Lake


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The Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce is pulling out all the stops this year for Christmas, as they get both families and businesses involved in the celebration.

They held their annual Christmas tree lighting last weekend, will have a live nativity this weekend, and next weekend kicks off their 12 days of Christmas in Sand Lake. The live nativity will be held at Sand Lake United Methodist, on Friday, December 6, from 6 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, December 7, from 1-3 p.m.

The 12 days of Christmas kicks off Friday December 13 with all kinds of business activities and specials, a window decorating contest, scavenger hunt and more. Santa will be at the Sand Lake/Nelson Township Library on Saturday, December 14, from 10 to noon. There will also be many other family-friendly activities, such as caroling, a model train display, sled races, and more.

Businesses will be running great specials every day during the 12 days of Christmas. Take a look at all the specials they are running and all the great activities in their ad by clicking on the link below.

Sand Lake ChamberCHRISTMAS6x16fc4913.pdf

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Waiting


The Rev. David Meyers

Holy Spirit Episcopal Church

1200 Post Dr., Belmont, MI  49306

 

I was in the doctor’s office the other day and the appointments were backed up. The wait was much longer than usual. After perusing the scattered magazines, I made a mental shift. Instead of succumbing to growing irritation, I decided to make the most of the time of waiting. Mentally, I made a list of the jobs I had to do. Then I checked off the things that needed to be done to get my house in order. I did some financial accounting and then I checked my prayer list. I remembered all the friends, family members, social issues, and church concerns I had committed to pray for. It seemed as if the time passed at a rapid pace and then my number was called. The wait was over.

Dear friends, we are now in the first week of Advent—the season of emergence, of coming forth, of appearing.  We have four weeks to wait for Christmas. In our church, we stubbornly oppose the cultural norm of rushing Christmas. The deep blue colors and reflective mood are anticipatory, but restrained. There will be no decorations until just before the 25th. The words of Isaiah, Jesus, and John the Baptist help flesh out the time.  They guide us through the wait.

Time with God can be bent in so many ways. Even as we await the celebration of the coming of Messiah in the form of a child, we anticipate the coming of Christ in great power and glory.  Both happen at the same time. Both are comprehensive, both are cosmic. The nature of the wait depends on the understanding of the event.

As people grow older, they begin to understand that the appearing of Christ may be individual instead of a worldwide event.  The wait is a useful time to get the house in order, to make sure that jobs are finished, and accounts balance. The act of simplifying helps the wait go smoothly.

Of course, as children, we did not understand the deeper meaning of the season. Waiting was so hard! Little people, literally abuzz with excited energy, know that a great celebration is approaching. They can barely eat while they tick off the days. For them, the wait is torture.

For younger adults, the wait is more trying. Demands of time and purse result in the feeling that the wait is actually too short!  How can it all be accomplished? Or rather, why must is all be accomplished? So much is pressing that the wait does not lead to peaceful understanding. It is time that demands to be filled.

Wherever you find yourself, remember that the wait has a purpose. It teaches us that we are not in charge of time. The Messiah comes when he chooses. No amount of stress can make the days go faster. Preparation, however, can make the days more meaningful. Take some time in these next weeks to be quiet. Sit back and close your eyes. In the midst of the immediate hubbub, take a personal inventory. Is your spiritual house in order? Are accounts balanced? Are the necessary jobs completed? Are you ready to welcome the Christ Child, the Messiah as your guest?

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Holiday Happenings 2013


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CEDAR SPRINGS

Red Flannel Christmas – Come Mingle with Kris Kringle

Dec. 7: Come celebrate the kick off to the Christmas season with a Red Flannel Town Christmas, presented by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.  Creative Technologies Academy will have an arts and crafts fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; local businesses will be open and running specials beginning at 10 a.m.; and the Cedar Springs Historical Museum will do Christmas crafts from noon to 3 p.m. New this year is the Red Flannel Town Christmas Parade, with registration at 4:30 p.m., and parade at 5 p.m. Following the parade will be a live nativity scene, tree lighting, caroling, and mingling with Kris Kringle at the corner of Main Street and Ash. Bring the whole family out for a fun, old-fashioned, red flannel town Christmas celebration.

Second annual Christmas concert at the Kent

Dec. 14: The Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Christmas Concert at the Kent Theatre on Saturday, December 14, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Cedar View Choir will perform this year, along with some performers from last year and more. Bring the family and have some fun. Admission is $5, and free for kids under age 5.

Make a gingerbread house

Dec. 14: Calling all Kids to decorate a Gingerbread House at the Cedar Springs Public Library. Sign up for one of three sessions: 10 a.m., 11 a.m., or 12 p.m. All ages welcome, preschoolers must have parent present. Stop by the library to register or call 616-696-1910.

Christmas Dance Extravaganza at the Kent

Dec. 15: The Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce will host a Christmas Dance Extravaganza at the Kent on Sunday, December 15, from 3 to 5 p.m. They have a variety of dance styles lined up to perform. Bring out the family and have some fun. Tickets are $10, and free for those under age 5.

GREENVILLE

Hometown Christmas

Dec. 6: Come and celebrate “A Hometown Christmas” in beautiful Historic, downtown Greenville. It’s so much more than just a parade. Events start with a Santa park party from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Lafayette Park (next to the bakery). Santa will visit with children, and pose for photos with kids; there will be face painting, live Christmas music, hot cocoa and cookies, and plenty of holiday merriment. The tree lighting ceremony begins at 5:45 p.m. at Lafayette Park. Santa will do the honors and light the tree. The parade follows at 6 p.m., and then kids can visit with Santa at the Flat River Museum immediately following the parade until 8 p.m.

Heritage Holiday Village

Dec. 8: 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Montcalm Community College. Free. Enjoy an old-fashioned holiday in the village, including caroling, crafts, photos with an 0ld-fashioned St. Nicholas, and more. 2800 College Drive, Sidney, Michigan 48885.

Tree of Lights Celebration

Dec. 8, 17: On Sunday, December 8, the Spectrum Health Foundation United & Kelsey Hospitals will hold its annual Tree of Lights celebration at 4 p.m. at United Hospital in Greenville. On Tuesday, December 17 at 6:30 p.m. the Tree of Love celebration will be held at United Church of Christ, 115 W Fifth Street in Lakeview. Funds raised from this year’s Tree of Lights and Tree of Love will help purchase a video laryngoscope for both United and Kelsey Hospitals. A laryngoscope is a lifesaving medical device used to place breathing tubes in a patient who is unable to breathe on his or her own. Enjoy the musical sounds of the season, delicious refreshments and listen as the names of those who are read.

SAND LAKE

Polar Express Party

Dec. 11: All aboard! Hop on the Polar Express and enjoy a magical storytime train ride at the Sand Lake/Nelson Township Library at 6:30 p.m. Play games, make a reindeer ornament, enjoy an edible train and more at this cozy holiday party. For all ages. The library is located at 88 Eighth Street.

Christmas with Santa

Dec. 14: Santa will be at the Sand Lake/Nelson Township Library from 10 a.m. to Noon a.m. on Saturday, December 8. Visit with Santa and enjoy crafts and treats. Gifts aplenty for the first 200 children! Prize drawings will be held. For all ages.

SPARTA

Pet night with Santa 

Dec. 12: 6-8 pm in Santa House, 94 N. Union. Bring your furry friends to visit with Santa! Photo with $3.00 donation or pet food or blanket donation to go to the Humane Society.

Santa Train visits Sparta

Dec. 14: The Santa Train will visit Sparta at approximately 10 a.m. (visit www.spartachamber.com for exact time.) Follow Santa in the kid’s parade to the Santa House and visit Santa until 1 p.m. Boy Scout Troop 280 will serve hot cocoa, and the Coffee Stop will give out free samples of gourmet coffee. Find Bruce the chestnut grower and try a free roasted chestnut. There will also be free horse and trolley rides until 2 p.m.

Santa in Santa house

Dec. 19 and 21: Santa will be in the Santa house (94 N. Union) on Thursday, Dec. 19 from 6-8 p.m., and on Saturday, December 21, from 11 to1 p.m. Bring your own camera.

Living Nativity

Dec. 21-Dec. 24: The Ballard Church of Christ, 1633 10 Mile Road, presents “The Living Nativity” from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Dec. 21-24.

Horse drawn trolley rides

Dec. 24: Horse drawn trolley rides from 6-9 p.m. Loading area and treats at Sparta Fire Department.

SPENCER TOWNSHIP

Gingerbread Lane

December 5: Stroll down Gingerbread Lane at the Spencer Township Library and enjoy tasty gingerbread stories from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Each child will make a simple gingerbread house. Pre-registration is required and participant spots are limited. For all ages. Arts and crafts.

 

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Thank You


Thanks to the good Lord, all of us (including the dog) got out of the house unharmed from our house fire on Christmas Day. We would like to say Thanks to our family, friends, neighbors and most important the “Dog.” Your offers of help, your cards of encouragement, your acts of kindness, the good advice we were given when our minds were numb, the gifts of money, warm clothes & hot coffee. Cell phones were used and given, instruction to make and take calls, small note pads for notes and numbers. Warm houses to go to, your vehicles to drive and your help removing things that were left. For all these things we are very thankful, and we are very blessed for the wonderful support from all of you. And to all the firefighters, you went above the beyond to fight this fire and help save what we could. We Thank You.

Thanks for caring and sharing,

Don & JoAnn VandenBerg

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