Pastor's Note

December 17, 2021

Christmas is almost HERE! I cannot believe that Christmas day is a little over a week away, so you know what that means. We get to celebrate the greatest gift the world has ever known! No, I’m not talking about the internet, 2-day delivery, or seat warmers. (Although in the Missouri winters, I have been thankful for seat warmers!) 
 
I’m talking about the gift of Jesus coming as a baby. It truly was a gift that God stepped out of heaven and took on the form of a human as a fragile, needy, perfect baby. This gift came with hope that the world can be different. This hope that we now get to be reminded of each and every year as we celebrate the Christmas season. This hope was almost doused immediately after the birth of Jesus though. 
 
In Matthew, the scripture tells of Herod killing all the baby boys 2 years old and younger in and around Bethlehem. What a terrifying time this must have been for everyone in the area. The pain and weeping could be heard from all around the region. Amid all this despair, how could Mary and Joseph choose hope? We will discuss this and what it means for us today Sunday as we wrap up our sermon series (Not So) Silent Night. How can we choose Hope even though Despair would be a really easy choice? 
 
Blessings, 
Andrew
 
P.S. We’re going to have four different Candlelight Christmas Eve Services, so I would love for you to make plans with your family and invite your friends to one of the services. At 7 pm on the 23rd, we’ll have a contemporary service. On the 24th, we’ll have a contemporary service at 3 pm. Then we’ll have two back-to-back traditional services at 5 and 7 pm. We have wrapped up planning for these services, and I’m excited for the special moments at each one. 
 
P.P.S. I want to remind everyone of our Christmas Eve Offering which is Water for Mozambique. I think this is an amazing partnership to help provide water and hope to a group of people who have been through so much. We’ll talk more about the situation and have more information this Sunday as well as on Christmas Eve. 
Posted by Andrew Nelson

December 1, 2021

Hello Church!
Can you believe it’s December? It feels like the year has FLOWN by. I would guess that part of the reason it feels that way for me is because my wife, Beth, and I have had our eyes glued to December for, well, nine months! We’re expecting our first child in just a couple of weeks, and that anticipation is making the season of Advent feel much more real this year. But while we associate Advent with anticipation for Christ’s birth (in the past) and Christ’s return (in the future), the real anticipation of Advent wasn’t really for a baby, but for the CHANGE that Christ will usher in.

Change?

Yes, change. Change because, if we’re honest, we live in a broken world. We need change because of hunger and thirst. We need change because of heartbreak and grief. We need change because of violence and war. We need change because of anxiety and depression. 

This is ultimately what the hope of Christmas is about—that Jesus changes things and that Jesus will change things. 

When we forget this aspect of Christmas, we simply just celebrate feeling good. But this season was meant to be a time of looking forward to how Christ will make things right.

That’s why I love that we give our entire Christmas Eve offering away. We find a problem in the world and try to make it better. We join God in making this world a better
place. For the last two years we’ve partnered with the Mozambique Initiative—a partnership between UMC churches in Missouri and Methodists in Mozambique. Last year we raised funds to support the purchase and operation of mobile health clinics to provide aid in remote areas of the country. And the year before that, we built a well/water tower/solar station to transform a village and provide them infrastructure that has saved lives.

This year Mozambique has faced not only the threat of COVID-19 and economic challenges, but waves of refugees fleeing conflict by escaping to northern Mozambique.

“The conflict has destroyed people’s jobs, lives and hopes for the future. Insurgents have ripped families apart, burning their homes, traumatizing children and killing people." - WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley in a recent visit to affected families in Cabo Delgado. “These innocent communities are now completely reliant on WFP and our partners to provide them with lifesaving food and help them get back on their feet. We must not fail them.”

The Mozambique Initiative, having seen the generosity of our church these previous years, has requested that we build a well in a village called “25th de Junho” that will
serve 10,000 people in need of clean drinking water, water pressure, and solar energy.

So this Christmas Eve, we’re not only going to celebrate the coming of Jesus, but we’re going to partner with God in bringing some relief to a world in need. We’re hoping to raise the entire amount of the project, totaling $34,275. We’ll be collecting this offering on Christmas Eve during our services, but also through mail and online giving
at bluespringsumc.org anytime through the end of the year.

Thank you for being a church that follows Christ’s invitation to care for those on the margins! I am so proud of our community and can’t wait to see how God uses your
generosity this year.

Pastor Chris

Posted by Chris Abel

Why I like going for walks.

I was talking to my counselor yesterday and made an interesting observation I thought I'd share with you...
 
A few mornings each week, I’ll go walk at Lake Remembrance near the local Target. (It’s so beautiful! One of my favorite parts of Blue Springs.) I go often enough that I recognize the regulars and we smile and share niceties. I was sharing with my counselor how much I enjoy these walks because of these surface-level pleasantries, when I realized that the reason I enjoy them is because I can interact with people without actually getting to KNOW them.
 
I can exchange a smile and wave, without knowing…
 
…if they are racist. 
…if they are hateful. 
…if they are gossips. 
…if they hold fundamentally different views about the world. 
…if they are prideful. 
…if they are selfish. 
 
My walk is peaceful because there is no depth to it. Only surface pleasantries
 
And it made me realize how when you get to know someone, you risk getting to know the ugly parts of them as well. 
 
Which is why a lot of us just save ourselves the trouble. We hold back, put up walls, keep an arm’s length… because we never know who might actually be disappointing, or even worse, hurtful and antagonistic. 
 
I think this is why people have fewer friends today than in the past and why social communities of all shapes and sizes are shrinking: Life is safer when we simply enjoy the company of a handful of people we actually trust. 
 
But Jesus didn’t live that way. He was compassionate and open to people… even people who were nailing him to the cross. 
 
So how does that translate to today? How do find and nurture authentic relationships when they involve… people? 
 
We’ll find out more this weekend in worship :) 
 
 
Pastor Chris
Posted by Chris Abel

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