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,