Christmas Eve Service

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Candles lit the front of the darkened auditorium for the Christmas Eve Service. Carols lit hearts with the good news of the Gift come to save.  

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’re the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

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The advent story had been told one candle, one Sunday at a time. The Prophecy Candle – the candle of Hope – had anticipated the birth of Christ. The Bethlehem Candle had represented the Love packaged in a manger. The Shepherds Candle of Joy had expressed the hearts of those unwrapping Grace.  

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

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The Sunday before Christmas Eve had brought the Angels Candle announcing Peace. Then at the center of the wreath, at the center of Christmas, the Christ Candle shone like a light purifying the darkness of our hearts.

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

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And from Scripture, Pastor Doster told of the Baby come to die, the Word come to give life.

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Before gathering around a tree, families gathered around a table set with bread broken and wine poured out. And before the fun of stockings and surprises, we paused to remember the Reason for celebration. We gave thanks for the blood of Jesus giving us new life. Like a newborn baby.

And the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1 ESV)

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Picnic on New Property

We enjoyed our annual picnic this fall on the new property.

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Freshly spread tablecloths disappeared under the various pies and casseroles. Teens teamed up for Ultimate, and the little ones raced for the tree mid-field. A toddler found an extra Frisbee to toss, and adults visited around the campfire on a surprisingly warm autumn day.

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But this was only the start of celebration. Conversations continued in the long line of eager appetites. A polite dog watched diminishing plates with companionable wag. All encircled crackling, burning branches for the sweetest part of the afternoon.

Guitars beckoned to worship as one, hearts ready to overflow thanks. Testimonies of grace lived out touched souls hungry for more of God. Then one who has journeyed long in grace opened the Word and minds. Dwight Stone brought close far away brothers and sisters in Romania, Spain, Italy, Armenia, Georgia, and Serbia. Hearts full, Pastor David guided in prayer.

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On log benches and lawn chairs we sat on what was a junk pile. A couple of missed tires remind of the hundreds hauled off. Sweaty hours had transformed an established junkyard into a rolling park. Feet rested on cedar mulch neatly raked.  Young ones ran back to the tree, dropping to catch breath under its full shade.

Stomachs and hearts satisfied, it was a moment to breathe in grace together, to celebrate relationship through Jesus Christ, to appreciate the gift of this property and many other blessings. 

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