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December 2018

AT A GLANCE

 


 Pastoral Reflection by Pastor Aaron Adame
What Christmas Means to Me by Josef Leischner
Women's Ministry by Andrea Lemly
Christmas Family Traditions: A Splendid Storm by David Gustafson

Timeless Carols by Jeff Joyner, Music Director 


 

 
 
 

Pastoral Reflection
 

aaron circle


by Pastor Aaron Adame




Can you believe that 2018 is nearly over? Another year has come and gone. Though it seems like only yesterday we were hearing Christmas songs on repeat at the store, here we are again. I often look at old photos of my two girls from previous months, and I am amazed at how quickly they are growing up. With the passing of time, change is inevitable. 
 
As a personal exercise, every year I try to spend some time in reflection, thinking upon all the things that have happened over the previous year. In the moment, it is difficult to see what God is up to—tunnel vision is a common occurrence in the midst of present circumstances. But the saying is true, “hindsight is 20/20.” When you look back in the rearview mirror of life, you can see more clearly what God was doing. 
 
Often times, in these moments of reflection, thinking upon past events and situations, my question changes from “God what were you doing?” to “God what were you doing in me?” When I think back, I am reminded of the fact that everything that takes places in my life is an opportunity for growth and change. It isn’t just that God is at work through me or even around me, but God is at work in me. Every trial, every situation that God allows is a means of grace when faith is applied (James 1). Even in some of my most difficult years, when I reflect on the events that took place, I can see how God was at work, which brings me tremendous encouragement. 
 
Perhaps you have a similar practice. If you don’t, I encourage you to do something similar. If you are married, spend time with your spouse talking about how you have seen God at work this past year. Even if it was a difficult year, I am certain that you will find that God is not only sovereign over your circumstances, but He is also good and does good for you (Romans 8:28-29). 
 
As we end another year, I want to say a prayer for all of us: 
 
Father, you are good and you do good for your children. There is not a second of our lives that is not foreknown and purposed by you. But everything that takes places, even the hardships, are designed by you for our own ultimate good and to your ultimate praise. We confess that we often fail to see what it is that you are doing. We also confess that we fail to apply faith and trust in your perfect will. But we remember that your faithfulness is greater than our faithlessness and your love is greater than our mistakes. Thank you for what you accomplished in the people of Canby Christian Church in 2018. Thank you that everything we’ve experienced, personally and corporately, was all according to your plan. Our heart’s desire, before we enter into the new year, is to simply ask that you would continue that great work which you have begun in us. We desire to see you exalted among us! Like Moses, we ask that your glory would pass before us, declaring just how wonderful and powerful you are. Cause us to grow in Christ-likeness, in unity, is purity and holiness. Give us boldness to share our faith with others. Give us a greater hunger and thirst for your Word. Make us sensitive to the leading of your Holy Spirit, God. We pray all these things in the name of your One and Only Son, our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus—Amen! 

 
 


What Christmas Means to Me

 

Josef

 

by Josef Leischner

 

When you think about Christmas, what comes to mind? Do you imagine a Nativity scene with a stable, animal
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s and confused but marveling shepherds? Or do you picture a “negativity scene,” with long lines, busy traffic, cold weather, and repetitive ads? When I think of Christmas, I think about heart-warming traditions, about helping others, and about the hope that we have because of Jesus.

Christmas is heart-warming traditions. I love that we give gifts at Christmas. There is an excitement t
o getting gifts for other people and seeing their faces when they open the packages. I enjoy hunting for the perfect gifts for each family member. I also love to wake up on Christmas morning and dump out my stocking to see what surprises are inside. In my family, we have stockings for everyone in the family, plus one for Jesus. Jesus’ stocking usually contains something to bless other people or even animals, such as baby toys for the Pregnancy Care Center or suet for the winter birds that flock to our feeders.

Christmas is helping others. Besides helping the birds outside our windows, we also have a tradition of helping at the Adult Center on
Christmas Day, where a midday meal is served for people who are not able to gather with family or friends. While other volunteers cook turkey and fluffy rolls and many other delicious items, we set up tables, put out decorations and place settings, and prepare things for kids to do while we all wait for dinner to be ready. Last year, we took sugar cookies, frosting and sprinkles to decorate. The kids loved decorating their own cookies, but some of the adults did, too, saying it brought back memories! As we get ready to go to the Adult Center, I get this fun, happy feeling, knowing that I get to do something that others will enjoy.

Christmas is hope. When I celebrate Christmas, I know that I am celebrating the birth of Jesus. On Christmas evening, we build a fire in the fireplace, and we read the Bible story of Jesus’ birth together. Just like us, all Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, who is the Son of God, but He was also a man on earth. Jesus later died on the cross to save us from the wages of sin, which is death, and to give us the gift of God, which is eternal life. That little, helpless baby that we think of on Christmas later grew up to become the man who saved us all.

Each Christmas is a little bit different, with unique surprises and opportunities. But every Christmas I have seen is special because it holds traditions close to my heart. It is a day for helping others experience joy, and it is a remembrance of hope: knowing what Jesus has done for us, we can look forward to true life where all days contain the beauty of Christ’s love.
 
 


 


Women's Ministry: A Strong Foundation of Relationships

by Andrea Lemly, Women's Ministry

 
Over the years I have had many opportunities to study what God has to say about women and their influence. From the beginning of our creation, God purposed us and equipped us to be influential and necessary. The Bible is filled with various accounts of women called by God, set apart for a purpose, and equipped to do His will. It is a great responsibility to be a woman of God, and I for one am so thankful to not have to walk in that calling alone. 

Instead, I am blessed by the companionship, encouragement, and accountability that exist for me (and for you) here at Canby Christian Church. Our desire for our Women’s Ministry is that women would encounter the gospel of Christ and find fellowship and community. Every eight weeks or so, we create an opportunity for the ladies in our church and community to connect with one another through our fellowship nights. We believe that fellowship with one another grows relationships. Just like Mary ran
to Elizabeth with her news about carrying Jesus, and Ruth pledged her commitment and love to Naomi, we too have opportunities to run to each other in times of need and in times of great excitement. 

As women, our first inclination is to run to those we are in a relationship with. We trust that they will hold us close, lift us up, and celebrate alongside us because together we have built a strong foundation of a relationship. We need one another; it’s how we were created. 

In Titus 2, Paul instructs Titus in how to manage the workings of the church. Paul, as the teacher, gives Titus sound information on how to effectively form leadership in his church. He is clear that “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands so that the word of God may not be reviled.” 

Titus 2:3-5 makes it clear that older women are to step up into natural roles as mentors and encouragers. Not only are they to be teachers of the Word, but doers of the Word as well. Paul sets us up for a mentorship model that is meant to bless and edify us. We are to purpose to follow God’s Word together. Learning and living in relationship with each other. Our hope is that together we would work to build up our church, creating an atmosphere that gives Glory to God and deepens our relationships with one another, to His Glory and for His Kingdom. 

If you haven’t attended one of our fellowship nights or Women’s Ministry events, I would encourage you to do so. Our church is privileged to have many wise Titus 2 women. After spending a few years serving and fellowshipping with these ladies, I can tell you, they are fun, encouraging, relatable, real, and filled with love for God and one another. Their influence continues to encourage and shape me, and I know it would do the same for you.
 
 
 


Christmas Family Traditions: A Splendid Storm


David


by David Gustafson
 


“Pleeeease, please mommy! Tell me a story. Tell me my favorite. You know the one . . . ”   

 
As a small boy snuggled under the covers after bedtime prayer, I often asked Mother to tell me stories about her childhood in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.  She, for the “umpteenth” time, lovingly related the following account:  
 
Occasionally, on cold snowy days, a neighbor arrived early at the house in a one-horse open sleigh. While the steamy breath from nostrils of the horse caught away in the wintry draught, my mother and her friend snuggled together merrily against the cold, warmed under a thick eiderdown as snow-muffled hoof-falls pulled the sleigh and its occupants along. As horse nickering mingled with the jingle of sleigh bells, the driver, reigns wrapped over mittened hands, delivered the girls to Dexter School.  
 
Dexter SchoolAfter school, on the way home, the sleigh pulled up at her young friend’s home. Hot cocoa, set out in red and green mugs, warmed their hands and bellies. Late in the afternoon, “climb aboard,” uttered by the driver, brought an end to conversation chattered between the little girls. Deliciously happy snowflakes falling all about, Mother peered from under the coverlet for the remainder of the ride home.
 
Sharing her growing up years was part of my bedtime routine. Moments I recall with the fondest affection. I wish she were here at the time of this writing to remember, sip hot chocolate, bake gingerbread cookies, and spend Christmas with her great-grandchildren.
 
I think of mother as I now make new memories with my own grandchildren . . .
 
Preparations underway, sturdy, yet delicate hands of a four-year-old boy, Logan, and a two-year-old girl, Gracie, gather around a small table. The little boy is comfortably seated on a wood chair, while his little sister is perched in her high chair next to the table.  Both pairs of blue eyes big, not quite mischievous, but almost. You know the look of a child when there is magic afoot, their faith, wonderment, and the simple, pure, unassuming belief of little ones. Enchantment. Small forms fidget, excited. 
 
Tender hands and diminutive voices anticipate something astir. The smile and laughter of the boy barely suppressed, his younger sister is watching him with great interest. Delighted by what she comprehends in her big brother’s grin. Gracie doesn’t quite know what to expect. She’s younger, after all. Her expression concentrated, nose wrinkled playfully, and dancing eyes take in everything!
 
Daren’t Nana and Papa attempt grandchildren decorating gingerbread cookies? Whilst the children, both of whom are young, can be unruly, the cookies baked perfectly. Nicely formed, the gingerbread figures must be adorned for the eye of the beholder—no “illusion” of splendor—our adult perspectives imagine perfection.  
 
Icing, small candy snowflakes, tiny, tiny round multi-colored sugary things and larger many colored sweets provide an assortment for garnishing. The children are given three dishes, each containing assorted decorations and a gingerbread man cookie. Gustafson Gingerbread House
 
Industrious fingers press candied snowflakes and round candy buttons into icing on the gingerbread men. Their work is meticulous, careful, and precise, even if unpracticed. Then, as though Winnie-The-Pooh’s Blustery Day blew into the kitchen, dishes of candy upend. The little ones haven’t been naughty, just children warming to their work. 
 
Jane ElizabethHundreds, actually it seems thousands, of tiny candy beads scatter, carried on four winds of the kitchen. Astonishingly, the confections even have legs of their own running away at great speed, and they bounce, too, everywhere all at once. The kitchen floor, the highchair, cracks in the tabletop, sticking to fingers and clothes, countertops, under the refrigerator, toe-kicks, table, chairs and throw rugs. Everywhere!
 

The children giggle, so do we. By now, production near a standstill, the children themselves are “charmingly” decorated with icing, candy sweets and snowflakes on their fingers, tips of noses, eyelashes, hair, and clothes.
 Suddenly, a smile lighting his eyes, the little boy chomps! Munching the arm off his gingerbread man, and, upon reflection of brother’s action, little sister takes a bite, too.
 
There was no illusion. The gingerbread cookies, decorated to perfection by small hands, led to one silly moment after another. A splendid kitchen storm!
 
As of this morning, two weeks later, tiny candies continue to run away with all manner of speed!
 
A celebration of Yeshua’s birth attended by reading the nativity story, family gatherings, gifts, grandchildren’s excitement, church, prayer, songs for the season, a trimmed tree, and the 2014 gingerbread Christmas cookie endeavor led to a tradition of constructing a gingerbread house. 
 
Memories, history, and traditions, given significance wrought by the season, remind us “when love came down,” eternal God an infant, born of a virgin, Savior.  
 
Merry Christmas!    


 
 
 

Timeless Carols


Jeffs small picture            


by Jeff Joyner, Music Director
 
 
As we were cleaning our garage recently, we found several old DV camcorder tapes that were left over from the 1990s. A couple of the tapes were badly damaged and in need of repair. Although I didn’t remember exactly what was on the tapes, I knew I wanted to have them restored and converted to digital to preserve family memories for our kids. So I took them in to be converted and waited in anticipation. A couple days later I got the call that my order was ready for pick up.  
 
The first video I clicked on was one of the videos that had been damaged. As I began to watch, tears began to fill my eyes. It was a video Christmas card that Sherry filmed from our new house in Georgia to send to her family in California. As I began watching, immediately I was able to recapture the memories of a roaring fire, a beautifully decorated house, our two boys at age two and eleven months old, and even some video of my parents who have since gone to be with the Lord. One additional thing that stood out to Sherry and me was the Christmas music that was playing in the background.  Twenty years later we are still playing the same songs and Christmas carols that we did back then. It was and always will be an integral part of our Christmas celebration. 
 
Christmas carols have endured through many generations. They are a rich expression of Biblical accounts and theological teachings. As a Worship Pastor for several years, I have seen songs and musical styles come and go.  Yet fortunately, the traditional Christmas carols have remained the same, having become embedded into the very fabric of our culture. They have become a universal expression in our celebration of Christmas today. For who could imagine celebrating Christmas without Joy to the World, The First Noel, or Silent Night? It is a rich heritage that I am very thankful for each and every Christmas.
 
This season, as you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, may you be surrounded by family, friends, and the wonderful, timeless carols of the Christmas season that have endured through many generations and hopefully many more to come. O Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!