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MEERRRYYYYYY CHRISTMAS EVE FRIENDS!!! <3


McKinsie and I are having our first ever Christmas Day where we both are off and a really excited about it. We're going for a hike with Bonsai in the morning and inviting her godmother, Carole, over for lunch after. While we were walking through the supermarket the other day preparing for the lunch I was reminded of God and all of you, thus inspiring the words for this blog. Hope you enjoy.


As we walked through the supermarket we picked out some of Carole's favorites, a local pasta sauce that we doctor up with some dry wine, fresh cheeses and spices, and let cook for a few hours in a crock pot. We picked up some top grade (and ethical) ground beef to make some meatballs and I'm going to make my dad's fabulous homemade noodles for the lunch. We got a laugh after the third time we thought we had everything and decided to "do it a little more special" and picked up wine, and then ice cream, and then festive napkins. Whatever budget we usually set aside for groceries a month has most certainly gone overboard by now, haha. Knowing we both work literally all day Christmas Eve (ughhhh) we decided to stay up late and clean the house in preparation for Carole's arrival. It's not that the house was dirty or even messy, but we wanted perfection for her. We went to bed that night realizing we skipped eating dinner and most definitely regretted that the following morning when we both woke with headaches. Our excitement to make that day special for Carole overshadowed our personal needs.


By now I hope you understand this has little to do with our lunch with Carole, but rather the act of the preparation. Anyone that is planning to or has hosted at their house for the holidays you know what preparation is. It's intense. It's along. It's stressful. It's costly. It's selfless. Your entire life becomes focused on ensuring that the experience is positive for your guests and that everyone leaves full from food and fellowship.


What I want you to know this Christmas Eve is that God has prepared a banquet for you (Psalm 23) and that God has prepared a place for you in heaven because of Jesus (John 14:3.) Just like the joy that McKinsie and I experience in going "all out" for Carole, God coming to earth and living among us is God going "all out" to show how much God loves you and how much God wants to be in relationship with you. Further, Christmas Eve is also the reminder that God came for all people. Republicans, democrats, liberals, conservatives, straight, gay, white, black, rich, poor, faithful and faithless alike. The classic nativity scene encompasses influential people like the wise men, poor shepherds, heavenly host of angels, and a very non traditional family with Joseph, Mary, and God's baby! Yet, that's what makes the scene so peaceful, so wonderful, so iconic. As we go all out on making those we love feel welcome at home, might feel challenged by the image of the nativity to widen our tables and diversify our love even further in this new year.


This Christmas Eve we have two wonderful service opportunities (well 3, but 2 are the same) with two wonderful messages that hope to convey the love of Christ for you and yours. We hope that you are able to join us for one of these opportunities. More info can be found at our Christmas page here. If you are traveling anywhere this holiday season I wish safety, happiness, and health to you and yours.


We've had a lot of fun together this past year with our Bible study journeys and I want to express my warm gratitude for your following each blog post. During these socially weird times it really has been a gift to me to have our little community. On behalf of the pastoral staff here at Chagrin Falls UMC I'm really excited to see how God will move through each of you to make 2022 a year greater than even our own expectations.


With love,

Nick


 

Scripture to Consider


Titus 2:11-14

2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all,


2:12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly,


2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.


2:14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.


(No one preaches my boy Titus on Christmas Eve but it is a good word!)


 

Praying the Hymns


Today's hymn might be new to you (save all the good ones for tonight, right?) but it has such a classic hymn feel to it. You can feel the excitement and the power rise in the refrain each time it comes around and the lyrics are powerful and timely. I hope you enjoy "On This Day Earth Shall Ring."








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Hello friends - bit of business up front and then we’ll dive into the topic for the day. My final day at Chagrin Falls is Easter Sunday and the blogs will be suspended after that. Thus, the final blog