December 21, 2020
Pastor Israel’s Appreciation and 2020 Merry Christmas letter to Our Church Family
Dear Mound City and Blue Mound UMC Family,
This year, 2020 is coming to an end, what a strange year it has been! The worldwide Pandemic crisis is a common enemy that could have united us as a national and Global Family. Yet, this common enemy has become a painful cause in dividing not just humanity but even the Christian Church. As I write this final letter to Mound City and Blue Mound UMC, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1: 3-7a:
I thank my God every time I remember you.
4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
These words of thanksgiving describe us as two Congregations, who in the midst of the Pandemic have managed to stay focused on God’s mission, supporting the Church financially, feeding the hungry, taking care of the community, saying farewell to our beloved family members who died, and calling on each other in times of need. All these ministries you have done are worthy of my thanks to you all. It has not been easy not to be with you each Sunday, but your support and patience with me as your pastor has been spiritually amazing. This Tuesday, we will record a Christmas Eve Service, and you can all view it on our Facebook Live, and a brief sermon will be send to all our members. Yes, unlike other Christmases, this year we should all long for a Candle light Christmas Eve service, when we celebrate the Light coming to us through Jesus Christ. It is indeed the light that shines in the darkness as the Gospel of John narrates the nativity story. Yes, 2020 has been a year of darkness but the Light of Jesus Christ came to shine into the darkness, and we know that darkness did not overcome the Light.
In a dark world, Mound City and Blue Mound City has been called to be the light in the darkness. At such season as this, the Church has been called to shine the light, and you all have done it in many ways than you can think. Regardless of darkness, there are parts of our being and doing that occur simultaneously. Who we are is expressed frequently by what we do. Many demonstrations of a sense of compassion, love, mercy and justice are brought to fruition in words and deeds. As a humble Church, we have done this through: Tuesdays Commodities, Social distancing and Mask wearing, Thanksgiving Meals to 279 people, Utility Bills paid for those lost their jobs due to COVID – 19, The Blessing Box has been a miracle to our community, Financial giving/Tithing/Pledges in support of the Church’s ministries, Church council meetings, and Upper Room Tuesday support and nourishing group. We are already the light and salt to the world, and for that I thank you all exceedingly.
Even though we did not have 2021 Pledges, I want to thank all who have financially supported the Church, and as we go into 2021, may you please continue to give as you did in 2020. Without your financial support, the finance Committee will find it hard to fund our ministries. I pray that each one of us will committee to give more than we did in 2020. Again, thank you for all you have done, and will do in 2021.
Since we will not be meeting for Christmas Eve service, I would like to encourage you to have your candles at home, and light them as you follow the Online Service. As you light your candle, say a prayer for the world, and ask God to continue using you as the Light to the world. Pray for the nation, for the world, for the Church, and in thanksgiving, let’s pray and thank God for Vaccines. While scientist produce vaccines, the Church should pray for the Vaccines and plead with God to use these vaccines as sources of healing. Remembering that Christmas is the birth day for Jesus, let’s also fill moved to give more in finances, as we will continue to have people coming to us in need of assistances. It is in giving that we share Jesus Christ with others. And it’s in giving that we make a lasting impact on our communities and around the world. Please mail in your Christmas giving to the Church, or drop them by between now and January 1st, 2021. While it has been a memorable 2020, I am excited that we will still celebrate Christmas Eve Service, with the hope that 2021 will be a year of new mysteries, God has in store for us. Yes, we will read nativity stories from the Bible, and we will sing O Holy Night and we will end with Silent Night, and then pray for each family, and our world.
Finally, Friday is Christmas Day, and my family and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year, 2021. Thank you for the Christmas cards you have send to our family. Each Year, I will have these cards in a basket, and pray over them in our prayer room here in Less Summit. I thank God for each one of you for the many blessings, love and support you have shown us, ever since we were appointed at Mound City and Blue Mound UMC.
The Church Council from both Congregations will continue to meet and evaluate the Pandemic Situation, and you all will be receiving updates on when we can resume in – person worship.
As I type this last sentence, I am filled with humble thanksgiving for being your pastor, shepherd, minister, friend, and priest. I am also reminded by the Holy Spirit to take a deep breath and re – center myself before Jesus, the one who chose to be born in an unusual place, the manger. I love you, and my family loves you more as you have shown deep hospitality to us, and we look forward to a New Year filled with God’s blessings.
To God be the Glory, and Merry Christmas to everybody.
Your Pastor and Shepherd,
Mound City UMC will be reopening for in-person worship on Sunday, June 7th at 9:00 a.m.
If you have any underlying health conditions that might cause you to have a compromised immune system or have any doubts about attending in-person, it is recommended that you not attend in-person but continue to worship through Pastor Israel’s sermons that have been emailed or mailed the last several weeks or visit an on-line service of your choice.
With everyone’s health and safety in mind, those attending will need to please follow these guidelines as established by your church council.
1. Please do not arrive before 8:45 a.m. so our church volunteers will have time to be in place.
2. You will be met at the church main entrance or the ramp door in the fellowship hall by a greeter who will record your temperature with an infrared scanner and distribute hand sanitizer.
3. No hand shaking or hugging.
4. All attending will be required to wear a face mask to enter the church and remain on until they are seated in the pews. You may bring your own mask or masks will be available at the main entrance door. It is recommended that you leave your mask on during the service but you may remove your mask during the service if you wish. When the service is over you are required to place your mask back on before you leave your pew until you are out of the church building while doing your best to maintain distancing.
5. While in the sanctuary, social distancing of at least 6 feet will be required. Pews will be taped off for this purpose. Immediate family members will be allowed to sit together without distancing.
6. Offering plates will be placed just outside of sanctuary doors and you may place your offering in the plates before or after the service.
Thank you for adhering to these guidelines and we are sorry that we have to go to these extremes for church service, but are only keeping your health and safety in mind. The church is looking forward with joy in seeing as many as possible back at church this Sunday!
Pastor: Israel Kamudzandu:
How we do the Service: I am Praying in this Holy Week and I hope we are all in prayer. Since we cannot meet in person but I be will join you all virtually at 7PM on Thursday as we do this service in our homes, as families and as individuals but God, Son and Jesus Christ will be with us. In a family, you can take turns to read the sections of the liturgy and then take Communion together. At the end of communion, pray to God and pray for yourself, your family, the church, friends, the world and pray for God’s mission. This too shall indeed pass but meanwhile, we remain focused on God.
Instructions: Please have the following with You:
- Bread and a cup of Juice
- Intentional Heart.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.
The risen Christ is with us.
Praise the Lord!
to you all hearts are open, all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hidden.
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
John 17: 1-26
Sermon Title: The Power of Jesus’ Prayer to Believers
To Mound City and Blue Mound UMC exiled in your house; on this day, as your shepherd, minister, comforter, exhorter and servant of God, I bring these words to you, we are not alone, but God is with us, we are for God, set apart by God, and prayed over by Jesus Christ on his last day on earth. We are not alone but God is with us!! On this Mound Thursday, a sacred moment; Jesus offers a closing prayer to his disciples, the Church of God. Jesus prays for the Mission of the Church and those who will carry out the mission of God – that is us – dispersed but still united by the Spirit of God. Four faith/spiritual and Good news we need to hear tonight:
- The Glory of God
- The Protection, Plan and Joy of God
- Prayer in unity of the Church
- God’s Mission to us
Our faith in Jesus, allows us to have access not only to God but also to experience the Glory of God. Our new life in God, through Jesus Christ’s ministry, teachings, death, and Resurrection are part and portion of the Gift of God’s grace to us who believe, and so we are not alone but God, Son and the Holy Spirit are on and with us. Second, we are here on earth with all its troubles and torments, yet the world does not direct or define the purposes and directions of a believer’s life but God does, and so our life is not fully our own, life belongs to God in whom we move, live and have our being. Jesus prays for you and the church, “Keep them in your name,” Yes, names have authority and power, but this time Jesus calls upon the Name of God to protect the church, and he prays for the church to submit to God’s plan, and he prays that the church seeks the joy that can only be found in God. This Joy, found in God, does not perish, fade or run out of fashion, this joy is unaffected by coronavirus, not affected by hate, is not even touched by powers of this world and this joy refuses to surrender to fear, sickness and loneliness (1 Peter 1: 4). The Psalmist says, the joy of the Lord is my strength Psalm 28:7; Romans 15:13). So, nothing can change our lives because our being is found in God, who send Jesus Christ to live, die and Resurrect for us with new life, energy and destiny. I hear Jesus, saying to us on this night; “Fear not Mount City and Blue Mound, but believe in me and also believe in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
On this night Jesus gives us the last commandment – a commandment to bind us together even in times of dispersion, trouble, sickness and death and that commandment is to love one another (verse 26). The cry of God, through his Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit is that, love has not reigned in the hearts, minds and souls of believers. Mound City and Blue Mound may we learn to live in love, speak in love, worship in love, and pray in Love? Without love, there is no church, no healing, know heaven and no peace. Love is the Heart of God, for Jesus, was and is still the heart of God. May all that we do to each other and strangers be done in Love?
In our dispersion, may we realize that tonight we are one in Jesus’ Name? Our oneness is not due to a building but rather we are one because Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one, and so we are surrounded with the Holy Ones, and as such we are controlled, defined and overshadowed by a Spiritual presence of Heaven.
Finally, the work we do, the mission we are doing and will always do, the prayers we are praying, and all we are dreaming to do as Mound City and Blue Mound is not for us but it an extension of Christ, who prayed for the Church, send the Church and is still sending us – propelling us through the power of the Holy Spirit to continue be the church even in times like these. May we seek God at all times, may we access God through Prayer, and as we share the Bread and Blood of the Lamb of God, may we never doubt God, but always activate our faith by believing in God, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and
earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was
conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered
under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended
to the dead. On the third day, he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to
judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the
holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him,
who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.
Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another.
CONFESSION AND PARDON
Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with
our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will,
we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hear the good news:
Christ died for us while we were yet sinners;
that proves God’s love toward us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
Leader and people: Glory to God. Amen.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to
give thanks to you,
Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. You formed us in your image
and breathed into us the breath of life. When we turned away, and our love failed,
your love remained steadfast. You delivered us from captivity, made covenant to be our sovereign God, and spoke to us through the prophets. And so, with your people on earth
and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ. Your Spirit
to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
and to announce that the time had come when you would save your people.
He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your Church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. When the Lord Jesus ascended,
he promised to be with us always, in the power of your Word and Holy Spirit.
On the night in which he gave himself up for us,
he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
When the supper was over, he took the cup,
gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Drink from this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.”
And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts
of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ,
redeemed by his blood.
By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and
one in ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your
kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.
Get Your Bread and Cup and say the Following
The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is given for you, preserve my soul and body unto everlasting life. Amen.
The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for me, preserve my soul and body unto everlasting life. Amen.
DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING
Go forth in peace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with the us all. Amen.