Christmas sales. Christmas decorations. Christmas parties. Christmas vacation. These are ways in which the secular world identifies this time of the year. While the term “Christmas” is included in these phrases, the term is just a turn-of-phrase. Nothing is really meant by “Christmas” other than referring to activities that happen at the end of December. In such a culture as ours one may indeed find themselves asking why he/she would want to bother going out of the house to worship with other people in a church.

One’s Christmas celebration would do well to include worship because the original Christmas observation was filled with acts of worship. The angels visited the shepherds on Christmas night and they all worshiped Jesus as the Christ, the Savior, and the Lord. Later, the Magi find the Christ child and not only present Him gifts, but also prostrate themselves (i.e., fall on their faces) in a humble act of worship.

If you one does not want to look at the Bible, then just look at your nativity set. Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi are all sculpted in such a way as to focus their gaze upon the infant Jesus. Why are nativity sets made in such a manner? Because all the characters in the scene are worshiping the Christ child. Often the Virgin Mary is sculpted as kneeling before the infant Jesus while her betrothed, Joseph, is sculpted as standing. Yet, both figures are often postured to make it clear that the child is not just the center of their attention, but the center of their entire lives.

Of course, we are not sculptures. We are living beings. On the other hand, the Bible says, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 ESV). May the Lord sculpt us with His Christmas Gospel that our hearts may be formed in worship this Christmas season.

-Pastor Doug

 

“Christmas: Decorations, Parades, and Children’s Worship”

Over this last week The Family of Faith has enjoyed decorating for Christmas, sponsoring a parade float, and offering a Children’s Worship service. Each of these efforts require considerable volunteer help. The volunteers have been provided by both the congregational members and the preschool families and staff members. Thank you to all the volunteers who decorated the sanctuary, the back of church, and the entrance to the preschool at Copperfield. Thank you to all the volunteers who decorated the float for the Parade of Lights last Sunday. And thank you for all the preschool staff members who worked so hard to help the children prepare for the two Preschool Christmas Worship Services.

Please know that all of you reading this blog are invited to attend the Copperfield Christmas Worship Service at 1 PM this Saturday. In addition to the wonderful songs offered by the children, this is a wonderful time to meet each other. So often I see our church members and our preschool families walk by each other without ever meeting each other. Why not take a few minutes to have a cookie after the children’s service and get to meet each other?

In addition to the Children’s Service at Copperfield, we will be offering two Christmas Eve services this year. At Miramesa at 4 PM we will be offering a service we call “Carols and Cookies”. This service is especially made for families with young children. Our Director of Music Ministry will be leading us in carols. I will be offering a puppet presentation along with a brief message for the children and their families. In addition, we will enjoy easy, no-mess Christmas crafts with the children and, of course, COOKIES.

At 6:30 PM at Copperfield, we will be offering a Christmas Eve Story time. This means I will be reading Christmas Eve children’s books to the children after which we will enjoy COOKIES.

At 7 PM at Copperfield, we will offer our Traditional Christmas Candle Lighting Service. During this service we will enjoy traditional Christmas songs, a Christmas message, prayers, only to end the service by singing Silent Night with candles alight. This is the 200th anniversary of Silent Night which was made to be sung accompanied by guitar. We will be singing Silent Night as it was designed to be sung: in worship with guitar.

Please feel free to attend any, or all, of these events as you enjoy celebrating the true message of Christmas.

-Pastor Doug

 

 

Happy New Year. A new church year starts this Sunday, December 2. Instead of keeping time around the sun, or moon, or stars, the church keeps time around the life of Jesus Christ and His church. The first season of the year is Advent. During this season we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas.

One way we go about preparing our hearts for Christmas is by adopting the use of a daily devotion. This year you can find such a daily devotion on The Family of Faith Facebook account. The devotional series is called “Angels in Advent”. Each day you will receive one video devotion about what the Bible has to say about angels. These one-minute devotions will serve to prepare us to more fully understand the celebration of the heavenly hosts before the shepherds as it occurred on that first Christmas night.

A second way we prepare our hearts for Christmas is by gathering on Wednesday night, December 5, for a special Advent Worship Service, at 7 PM. There is also a soup-supper that same evening at 6 PM. All are welcome.

A third way we prepare our hearts for Christmas is by decorating our church. You are invited to join our Decoration Party this Saturday, December 1, from 9 AM to Noon, at The Family of Faith -Copperfield.

May the Holy Spirit work through His Word and Sacrament to prepare our hearts for the joy of Christmas this year.

-Pastor Doug

At The Family of Faith Lutheran Church we do not host a Thanksgiving Eve service; instead we dedicate the entire month of November to observing a month of thanksgiving. This year is different in that we have so much to thank God about as a congregation.

For example, last Sunday we held our biannual Congregational Forum. During this meeting the business of the church was addressed by the members of the church. The list of blessings was very long. I especially am thankful for all the volunteer church leaders who guide our ministry efforts. Such leaders include the members of the Board of Directors, the elders, and those who serve on one of the Ministry Teams, sing with the Praise Team, assist with the Tech Team, and/or prepare the altar with the Altar Guild. Please join me in thanking God for our volunteer church leaders.

While we have been generously blessed by the Lord over the last six months since our last Congregational Forum, God also has called us to continue our service to Him. Jana Strange has prepared a simple form that will help us coordinate who would like to serve and in what capacity. Please see Jana after church to offer your time and talents to the Lord. Or, you can always send me an email outlining your areas of interest at pastordoug.tfof.org.

 

-Pastor Doug

 

Pastor to a child at church: “What are you thankful for?” Child: “All the candy I got for Halloween!” At least this child was honest.

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped handout candy at this year’s Trunk-or-Treat. Thank you to all of those who donated candy for this fun event. And a BIG THANK YOU to Jake Navarro for coordinating this year’s activities.

There are so many things around The Family of Faith for which we ought to give thanks. This Sunday, November 4, we will be thanking God for over a dozen new members who are making The Family of Faith Lutheran Church their church home. If you and your family do not have a church home, we would be so glad to have you join us at The Family of Faith.

Instead of having one special Thanksgiving Day service, we at The Family are celebrating A Month of Thanksgiving. No need to wait for Thursday, November 22.  God has blessed us so generously. May we respond to all of His goodness with sincere gratitude.

 

-Pastor Doug

Last Sunday, October 21, we enjoyed a wonderful blessing from God. We gathered as a family of faith at The Family of Faith – Miramesa. Many of you reading this blog joined us for the worship service and the afternoon’s activities. Thank you for joining us for this very special occasion.

After worship, many families picked up a “passport” and traveled room to room to see all the blessings we have been gifted with at the new Miramesa ministry location. Others enjoyed a snack and a time to visit with their neighbor.  Later in the afternoon dozens of children enjoyed the Tricycle Parade around the new Tricycle Track. Decorative balloons added to the festivities. Thank you all for making the Open House such a success.

While it is a joy to serve your families as a staff member at The Family of Faith, it is also a joy to meet you and your children at one of our special events. The next special event is the Trunk or Treat on October 31. See the announcement included in this enews for more information.

While October 31 is when we dress-up in costumes, and hand out candy, it is also a special day in the church. Reformation Day recalls October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther posted 95 Theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This posting called for the church to reform its less than biblical ways. To use modern terms, this posting went “viral”. The first Protestant church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, resulted. The whole idea of the Reformation was, and is, to celebrate the central truth of the Bible: we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

While I hope we have lots of fun at this year’s Trunk or Treat, I also pray that we will all take time to observe Reformation Day and all its great spiritual blessings. This Sunday, we will observe Reformation Day at Copperfield at 9:30 AM and at Miramesa at 11 AM. All are welcome to join us for more celebrating.

-Pastor Doug

 

October, Here We Come!

God has blessed us abundantly since the new academic year started on August 27, 2018. Many new students joined our learning community. In addition to opening preschool at two locations, many preschool families generously brought their children to sing on September 11 at The Family of Faith – Miramesa. Thank you, parents! Thank you, children! While August and September held many blessings, many exciting events await us in October.

For example, Sunday, October 21, 2018, you are invited to the Open House at The Family of Faith – Miramesa (9230 Fry Road). Starting at 11 AM we will gather for a service of celebration of dedication. From noon to 2 PM there will be fun family-oriented activities in each of the nine classrooms. In addition, there will be a Tricycle Parade. Each preschool age child is invited to bring their own right-sized mode of transportation to The Family of Faith – Miramesa where we have a special paved track just the right size for young children.

On Wednesday, October 31, from 6-8 PM, all are invited to the annual Trunk-or-Treat. This is a family-friendly event at The Family of Faith – Copperfield. In addition to fun costumes, we are looking for families who are willing to sponsor a trunk (of a car, that is). We are also in need of families who are willing to donate candy. Place these activities on your families calendar and why not bring a friend.

The faith family that gathers around The Family of Faith Lutheran Church is filled with talented people. For example, Mrs. Michelle Overaitis is one of our talented preschool teachers. She also is an exercise instructor at the local YMCA. Michelle has had two children attend The Family of Faith Preschool and now she is helping children in other families learn about the love of the Lord.

However, Michelle is not the only talented person in her family. Her husband, Jamie, enjoys woodworking.  When we needed a cross for The Family of Faith – Miramesa, we called on Jamie to help. He generously adopted the project. Today, after months of effort, and some delays, the cross was hung Commons Room. This room will soon serve as our sanctuary for the 11 AM service we offer at Miramesa every Sunday.

While the cross was one of the last items installed at Miramesa, it would also be accurate to say that the cross was the items around which the whole church is built. The new cross is supported on the wall by bolts and rods and two-by-fours. On the other hand, it is the cross which supports The Family of Faith Lutheran Church because it is by means of the cross that Jesus paid for all of our sins. Because of the cross we have free forgiveness and forgiveness by grace is the truth upon which The Family of Faith Lutheran Church is built.

“…who for the joy before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

How might a church show that the families and children in its care that God loves them so very much?  A congregation could pray for these families and children. It could invite and encourage them to join in regular worship. It could also decorate its building with inspiring art work.

In the past, our member, David Mann, has produced wonderful photographs that are presented in the sanctuary during various seasons of the Church Year. Other artists from within the congregation have painted inspiring works which also are placed on display in support of the worship life of the congregation.

Most recently, the art collection at The Family of Faith has expanded. Recently, The Family of Faith – Miramesa, received several custom-made paintings to decorate the preschool rooms at the new location. These paintings are intended to correspond to the themes which in turn correspond to age groups and rooms. For example, a painting of Joseph and his multi-colored coat hangs in the room with the theme of the “Dreamers”.  The Bible teaches us that Joseph was gifted by God with the ability to interpret dreams in addition to having his own inspired dreams.

Look at these fine paintings. Which one would you choose for your theme painting? Would you pick Joseph the dreamer? Or Jonah on his missionary trip? Or the wise Magi as they visit the infant Christ? Whatever your choice might be, we pray that the Lord will inspire you and your family to live a beautiful life in the name, and for the sake, of Jesus.

– Pastor Doug

 

 

 

The Bible is very clear that we are all invited to join together in worshiping God. This teaching is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament the Lord provided the nation of Israel, and the world, with the Ten Commandments. The Third Commandment calls for us to “remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.” In other words, we are called by God to worship together on a regular basis.

In the New Testament the Lord continued to encourage and invite us to celebrate his love, grace, and mercy on a regular basis. For example, when the risen Lord Jesus visited the disciples after that first Easter day the Bible says that the disciples worshiped him. Jesus is our God therefore we worship him today just list the disciples did years ago.

For the last eight years The Family of Faith has offered one worship service per Sunday. However, now that we have been blessed with two ministry locations we will begin offering two worship services every Sunday. At Copperfield the service will continue to be at 9:30 AM. At Miramesa the worship service will be at 11 AM. This new expanded schedule will begin this Sunday, September 9, and will continue thereafter.

Please remember that the preschool children are invited to sing a few songs at the 9:30 AM worship service this Sunday at Copperfield. It is always a great joy to see the preschool children offer their praise to God. May we all join in with them that God may be praised.

– Pastor Doug