Wednesday, December 25, 2013

You Will Find Joy

You will find joy in moments you would never think are joyous.

Our church serves an at risk population. The surrounding school systems have a large percentage of low income families. Monday through Friday, the Food Bank that operates from the church is open from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. One in four children in Tucson will go to bed hungry every single day. The church provides 24-hour bus passes to those who ask. Each person who receives a bus pass may return for another in seven days. 

The church has been participating in “Operation Deep Freeze”. The doors of the Life Center are opened to homeless men when the overnight temperatures will dip below freezing. Cots are set up, simple meals are provided as well as showers, blankets, breakfast and a take-out brown bag with a simple meal. The Salvation Army transports the men to our facility then picks them up again in the morning. 

You will find joy in moments you would never think are joyous.

While working Christmas Eve day, we were inundated with phone calls inquiring if we would be having Christmas Eve services. Indeed, we had three to choose from; 11:00 a.m. Candle Light Service, a 7:00 p.m. Candle Light Service, followed by an 11:00 p.m. Candle Light Service with communion. Following the 11:00 a.m. service the church provided a lovely Christmas meal at 12:30.

All undesignated offerings received during these three services were designated for the St. Paul’s UMC Pack-a-Thon. On December 29th, after worship at 11:30 a.m. everyone is invited to help package 40,000 meals in partnership with Outreach, Inc. All 40,000 meals will be distributed in our community with the assistance of the Salvation Army and the Veterans Administration. 

You will find joy in moments you would never think are joyous.

Christmas day begins with a 10:30 a.m. Worship Service followed by an 11:15 a.m. brunch. Children have the option of attending in their pajamas! Our pastor explained how the Christmas day worship began, when years ago a young couple traveled around the city looking for somewhere to worship on Christmas day and could find none. As he told the story, the young couple said, “We think we're Christians and we’d like to find out more, but on this most Christian of days there was no church open!” Suffice it to say, that changed. 

I share this because even in the face of all the poverty and hunger that faces Tucson (and I’m sure in your area, too), I am impressed that this church seeks to be the hands and often the feet of Christ to this community. 

You will find joy in moments you would never think are joyous.

Acts 1:8
New International Version (NIV)But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria… you begin at home and then reach outward. 

Are there people who take advantages of these services provided by the church? Of course there are. Is that my issue? Absolutely not. We give as unto the Lord. What the recipient does with it is between them and God.

You will find joy in moments you would never think are joyous.

The mission statement of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church is “We are called to be a community of generosity and love where we invite others to join us in becoming disciples of Jesus Christ for the good of the world”. I am honored and blessed to be a part of this community of faith.

Merry Christmas my friends and family! Merry Christmas indeed! May you fondly recall the "ghosts" of Christmases past and celebrate the Christ of Christmas who truly became "the present."

Oh yeah, and remember this -

You will find joy in moments you would never think are joyous.

Simply yours,

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Tamara! What an amazing church you are part of! I pray that 2014 brings even MORE opportunities to reach out to your community in the name of Jesus -- and that our church would be more and more aware and involved in meeting the needs of those around us here in NE Indiana!


Thank you for stopping in. Your comments are a source of encouragement.