The Birth of Possibilities

James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

by James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

Christmas as a season may to some seem a lost cause. What energy is left after our typical frantic pre-Christmas festivities? Caught up in the nostalgia of the Christmas spirit, we try to make up for neglect and ineptitude, but in a couple of weeks the Christmas decorations put up before Thanksgiving in our malls will be torn down and little will have substantially changed. Nevertheless, Christmastide, best understood through the metaphor of birth – brings God to us in the midst of all our distortions.

Christmas is a time in the eternal cycle of things to celebrate the mystery of possibilities through the birth of a child. The birth of a child can be a joyful occasion and even if the child is healthy there can still be moments of anxiety. A child represents possibilities, but not certainty. All too often Christmas offers people nostalgia, an escape from the harsh realities of life, rather than the joy-filled experience of new possibilities – amidst the realities of personal life and world history. The Spirit of Christmas is not a drug to numb our senses but a moment to recall that with God everything is possible. During Advent we wait quietly in hope for dreams that grow dimmer with age. At Christmas we experience the eternal promise from God of new possibilities. We are re-born in our hearts and in our history, because of our faith that God has entered human history and become one with us – Emmanuel.

God comes to you and me each Christmas because God wants to join us on our journey so that we will never have to fear or feel lost in our wanderings, but always can trust that God walks with us as we move ever toward the realization of God’s vision.

The Gospel of John tried to capture the vision God has for this world of ours. As John would explain it, Christmas is a candle in the dark. Jesus was born in dark days; we live in dark days. But somehow in that darkness a little light has been kindled, and nothing has been able to extinguish it. Indeed, its flickering light makes it possible for us to see the outline of new life amidst the darkness of our own lives, to see the outline of a new tomorrow amidst the darkness of the world’s evil. And that flickering light, if we concentrate on it, provides us with all that is necessary for walking into the night. John’s point is very clear: we need to focus on the good. The problem of evil that most of us worry about is definitely the wrong problem. The really difficult problem isn’t why there is evil in the world, but why there isn’t more good in our lives and in the world. That small flicker of good is the Christmas mystery, the mystery of possibility that may grasp us if we don’t surrender to secular celebrations of Christmas.

Every Christmas, and every other day, Christ arrives moving silently without fanfare or trumpet, into the midst of life, yours and mine, in all of its everydayness and clutter and workaday concerns. The impossible possibility, God is always entering our lives and our world to deliver and to save us. The problem is in our perceiving; our faith is fragile. It needs to be refreshed; and so it is, each year through the mystery of Christmas. Have hope! Have a blessed Christmas.

 

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The Perfect Presents or the Perfect Presence?

Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor
Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

The tree is up, the Amazon boxes will soon be headed your way and the mad rush is on. You’ve done a great job of getting the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, except for that one person. We all have that one person who is so difficult to match with a great gift. Whether it’s your in-law, your sibling or your next-door-neighbor, he or she seems to have everything, and then some.

Instead of focusing on the perfect presents, why not focus more on the perfect presence? Your presence in that person’s life is more valuable than anything you could find online or in stores. Your presence signals to that person that you care, you take your relationship seriously, and that you value that person enough to spend time engaging in conversation.

What if you’re not in the same town? This visit doesn’t necessarily need to be in person. You can Skype or FaceTime, or you can pick up the phone and call. Emails are wonderful communication tools, but you lose the personal connection that only comes from human presence. Take, for example, the phrase, “I’m just having such a great day.” It can be said with satisfaction or sarcasm. You don’t know how it’s meant to be conveyed, unless it’s heard first hand.

Still searching for the perfect gift? Why not offer to take someone to lunch, or if the person is a shut-in or has disability issues, why not bring the lunch to him or her? You can also donate to a favorite charity in someone’s name after considering that person’s preferences. There are so many ways to show someone you care.

“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. “ James 1:17 (NRSV)

This year, instead of the gift of presents, I hope you’ll consider the gift of presence.

 

Music Ministry: December 2014

Music at Trinity This Advent & Christmas

Jerry Rich, Director of Music
Jerry Rich, Director of Music

by Jerry Rich, Director of Music

Our ringers and singers are looking forward to sharing the musical joys of the Christmas season with you! We will sing selections from Handel’s Messiah and contemporary carols by John Rutter; we will also present settings of God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, Good Christians All Rejoice, Go Tell It on the Mountain, O Holy Night, and What Child Is This. For Sunday, December 7 we will have a guest violinist at both services; the Children’s Choir will perform its Nativity musical on December 14, and on December 21 the adult choirs will offer a service of Lessons and Carols. On Christmas Eve, please bring your heartiest caroling voices to the Sanctuary to help us proclaim the birth of the Christ Child!


Carriers of the Light

Ellen LaCroix, Director of Children's Choir
Ellen LaCroix, Director of Children’s Choir

by Ellen LaCroix, Children’s Choir Director

Have you ever hung Christmas lights on your home or on a Christmas tree? During the month of December, beautiful lights emerge at night illuminating the darkness. On December 14, the Children’s Choir will be singing their annual Christmas musical at the 10:30 a.m. worship service. Carriers of the Light uses scripture and traditional Christmas carols to portray the story of Jesus’ birth. This production focuses on Jesus as the Light of Salvation. It shows how God’s light is passed from Mary to Joseph to the animals near the manger; from the shepherds to the wise men and then out into the world.

During the chaotic Christmas season we often forget that it is really about a light in the darkness. We tend to associate Christmas with either the light or the dark forgetting that both exist in the world and both exist in the Christmas craziness. The Good News of the Christmas story is not that darkness no longer exists, but that there is a light that can (and does) defeat the dark. As people created in the image of God we are called to carry God’s light, to be mirrors that reflect God’s light around the world. This Christmas, how will you reflect this light? Where is the darkness where you are called to be the light?

 

Support the Youth

Nick MicMichael, Youth Director
Nick MicMichael, Youth Director

By Nick McMichael, Youth Director

December is a month filled with that Christmas magic, joy, family, celebration, and a lot of hard work. The Christmas Tree Sales that help us to raise a significant portion of the budget for our youth activities are well under way. But we still need volunteers to come help us sell! Volunteers come in all forms: Whether you are a youth, or a parent of a youth, or you once were a parent of a youth, or even if you are not involved with the youth at all but your heart is being strangely warmed to help! We could use the assistance of anyone who is willing. Even you! If you have taken the time to read this far into my article then you have already proven that you have some kind of interest in what is going on with our church and our youth. So why not get involved and lend a hand? This is a great opportunity to spend some time giving back this Christmas season, and spend some time with the youth of our church. If you are feeling that tug on your heart telling you to get involved, then do not hesitate! Head on over to our sign up genius page (http://bit.ly.tumctreesales) and sign yourself up, or sign-up your youth for them, or sign-up your spouse. Or, just sign-up your whole family and make an evening of it! For more information, feel free to email me or come ask me about it some Sunday after church. I look forward to seeing you all out at the lot!

tree sales

 

Missions: Welcoming Our Honduran Friends

By Chris and Dan Moore

The Leadership Center Graduates Arriving From Honduras

girlsWe are pleased to announce the upcoming arrival of Leadership Center graduates Olga Sosa and Yanetzi Ortiz on December 9. Olga and Yanetzi will be staying with us and will be a part of the Trinity family through the New Year. They are coming to present their business plans to potential donors and investors and to serve short business internships in the McLean area. We hope you will make time to meet these very special young women and hear of their exciting plans for their future in Honduras.

The Leadership Center (TLC) is a small, rural college in Honduras established to provide a post high school education to students who otherwise could not afford it. TLC’s three year program emphasizes English fluency, ethical leadership and entrepreneurial studies. After graduation most students will launch a small business in their local communities.

Trinity Members Returns to The Leadership Center in 2015

chalkboard profileIn January of 2015, Dan and Chris Moore will head to Honduras for a three month teaching assignment at TLC! Dan will teach business and entrepreneurship classes and work with the seniors to develop their small business plans. Chris will teach Psychology and Computer Literacy to the junior class. There will also be ample time for various craft projects which are sold by the students through their Artisans Club. A special thanks to Crafts for a Cause for their continuing support of this endeavor. In addition to teaching, we hope to develop our personal coffee farming and chicken-raising skills.

chalkboard backWe ask that you prayerfully consider supporting this ministry this Advent season in one of more of the following ways:

  1. Pray for TLC, its ministry and its 30 students.
  2. Come to TLC on a mission trip, which is planned for mid to late February; see team leader Jose Rivera for details. We would love to see you – it will be a wonderful experience.
  3. Send supplies or a gift with us for the students, such as flash drives, dry erase markers, personal toiletries, coffee mugs, fabric scissors, thread, needles, kitchen knives, dish towels and DVD movies.

We would love to answer any questions about this ministry and we look forward to introducing Olga and Yanetzi to our Trinity Family.

 

Church & Society: December News

A Joyful Thanksgiving Feast

A joyful celebration was had by all on Sunday, November 16, for our annual church-wide Thanksgiving Feast. It was a great time of delicious food and wonderful fellowship in Langley Hall. Many, many thanks to everyone who helped organize, prepare, serve, clean up and share potluck family recipes for this event.

Thanks, also, to Trinity families and friends for generously donating non-perishable food items to SHARE for the Thanksgiving Food Drive. SHARE serves as a food pantry for those in need right here in our community.

 

SHARE Food Drive

It’s not too late to give! Trinity’s food drive for SHARE will continue through Christmas so please donate non-perishable food items during the Christmas season, as well. Please bring your donations (Safeway/Giant gift cards included) to the Fellowship Building or leave your grocery bags in the narthex. Specifically, SHARE needs the following items:

Tuna, rice in 2 lb. bags, cooking oil, canned beans, peanut butter, pasta and sauce, diapers (especially sizes 4-6), baby wipes, baby shampoo, diaper rash cream, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry and dish soap.

 

DC Scholars/ Stanton Elementary School

This year, due to major construction at DC Scholars/Stanton, Trinity Volunteers help with the collection/distribution of needed items and help kids from the McLean community interact with kids at Stanton. On Science Day, held on Nov. 3, five Trinity members, plus Girl Scouts and other McLean children interacted with third – fifth graders at Stanton, teaching them aspects of first aid and health. Volunteers from Trinity and McLean collected and distributed over 100 jackets and winter coats and 270 Halloween costumes for Stanton families. These donations made a huge impact on the nearly 600 children now at Stanton. If you wish to help in a “kids helping other kids” activity on Dec. 19, please contact Suzanne Hamilton. Transportation to and from Stanton will be provided.

 

Trinity Round-Up: Advent – Christmas at Trinity, Couples’ Retreat & more


Charge Conference

The annual meeting of Trinity UMC with the District Superintendent will be held in the Chapel on Saturday, December 6 at 11 a.m.


Holiday Bazaar

9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Sundays

Fellowship Lobby

There will be hand-beaded jewelry, greeting cards, pet toys and other homemade items for sale.

Work Sessions: Dec. 1 & 15 at 7 p.m. in Room 124.


Couples’ Retreat – Save the Date

Please mark your calendars for the 12th annual Trinity Couples’ retreat for the weekend of February 27 – March 1, 2015 at the Hotel Hershey in Hershey, PA. We have two cottages reserved and so will have our own space which will provide a nice community feel. It will be possible to attend either one or both nights as in the past. We have been able to keep the charge at $150/night which includes dinner Saturday night at the Harvest Restaurant on the hotel property. There will be continental items available for breakfast in the morning but if you want a full breakfast that will be a separate fee, as will lunch.

There will be a group program Saturday morning with plenty of free time in the afternoon to enjoy the spa, hotel gardens and other amenities in the area. We will have entertainment Saturday evening after dinner together. Sunday morning worship will complete the weekend.

If you would like to save a spot, please get a check made out to Trinity for $150/night to Andy or Karen Briscoe.


Join Trinity’s Worship Team! We’re especially looking for someone to coordinate Greeters for the 10:30 a.m. service. It’s a great way to meet church members–and you can do it from home! Or if you like plants, we also need one or more individuals to work with Easter flowers and Christmas poinsettias. Want more details? Contact Kathy Maher (Kathyngs@gmail.com).


 

After taking a break in December, the Trinity Book Chat will meet on Tuesday, January 13, to discuss Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan, which follows the loving, tumultuous partnership of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his Indiana-born wife, Fanny Osbourne. Please join us at 6:30 p.m. in the Library for lively conversation and dessert. Reading the book isn’t even required! Contact Kathy Maher (Kathyngs@gmail.com).


Advent Devotions are available in the Narthex. Pick up a copy for your family today. Advent begins Nov. 30 and is the season of preparation for the birth of Jesus. Thank you to all who contributed to this booklet.