Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Christmas Praises 18

2 Corinthians 9:15

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

christmas-3During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

As a member of First Church, I am especially proud of how our church supports our military and our country.  Every week in our Sunday bulletin there is a Prayer Concerns section for friends and family members serving in the military.  This section contains over 30 names.  Both my sons have served I the military and one still is serving on active duty.  It comforts me knowing that so many are praying for them especially during the Christmas season.

There is so much more than just the prayers of support.  A bright and colorful flag is always flying from our church’s flagpole.  In the narthex is a tribute to individual veterans who have served as well as a stained glass window in their honor/memory.  In the fellowship hall, there still hangs the star banner with over 50 stars of those from First Church who served in WWII.  With God’s guidance, not one lost their life in that war.  First Church has one remaining WWII vet who represents the greatest generation.  Our Choir puts on an Independence Day Cantata and sing-a-long.  On the Sunday nearest Veterans day we honor those who have served and present a flag to one of those vets.  Many of our sons and daughters who have grown up in our church go off to serve.  We were especially fortunate to have an Air Force Chaplain who attended First Church with his family and would bring us a message from the pulpit frequently.  He keeps in touch with many of us via Facebook while he is serving overseas.  May the Lord speak through him to those serving so that they may have Jesus Christ in their lives.

Merry Christmas and God Bless First Church and God Bless the USA.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 18, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 15

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

christmas-15During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

My father passed away many years ago a few weeks after Christmas.  I took his passing very hard.  Before then, Christmas was all about presents, parties and bright lights.  After Dad died, I realized how much I needed a church family, and joined First Church, as my former church was so far away that I didn’t go to it often.  It felt good to be welcomed into a church family when my own family was in so much pain.

For many years after Dad died, it was hard to celebrate Christmas without experiencing deep sorrow from missing him.  As I’ve gotten older, I have come to realize that Dad lives in me all the time and that he would want me to enjoy the spirit of Christmas again.  I still get sad, but I also try to make the holidays bright for everyone around me.  Between going to church services in several churches with friends, enjoying activities like the wonderful Cantata, cheerfully greeting everyone I encounter and donating my time and money to help others in need, I have once again found a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Christmas really isn’t about the presents.  It’s about being present and being helpful.  It’s about loving everyone, and doing what Jesus would want us to do.  Merry Christmas.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 15, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 9

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

christmas-2

During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

One of the main sources of my joy at this time of the year is hearing and singing the old familiar Christmas carols that I have been singing for more than 60 years. This music makes the birth of Jesus real for me. I also love the annual Christmas cantatas which have been inspired by God to remind us of the story and of God’s love. Another source of my joy, not only during the Christmas season but all year long, is the comfort of being with my church family, especially in the groups in which I am active, the choir, the United Methodist Women, and my Sunday School class. We share our joys and sorrows, our problems and solutions, our ailments and recoveries, our triumphs and our defeats and frustrations, and we pray for each other. I look forward to the Christmas Eve service, when the hectic preparations for the next day are completed and a sense of peace comes over me as I give my full attention to the miracle of the birth of Jesus.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Denomination, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For God So Loved Us

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

112015 Ray McDonaldGod loves us and we are called to love God.  God so loved us – according to today’s passage – that He gave His own life for our lives.  God the Father so loved the world that He gave us God the Son to suffer death upon the Cross of Calvary for our redemption.  Today’s passage is a favorite of many.  John 3:16 is often put on posters at golf tournaments!

As Holy Week unfolds before us – we are being reminded of the love of God.  God’s love is what our walk with Jesus should be all about dear readers.  Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  1 John 4:9–10 – 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Continue reading

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: