Advent will soon come to an end, and then we shall celebrate the 12 days of Christmas! All of which means, for many, family. It may mean a reminder of family members no longer present or it may mean so much time with so many family members one may wonder if emancipation from family is possible for adults. Our families make our lives. Positively or negatively, our lives will be determined to some degree by our relationships with our family members. Family is then one of the most important aspects of our lives.
The birth of Jesus surprisingly upsets the entire notion of family. God in Jesus completely reorients, redefines, and expands the notion of family. In both accounts of Jesus' birth, found in Matthew and Luke, we're given Jesus' pedigree by way of a genealogical record. You may be forgiven if you do not remember that portion of the birth story as it is a genealogy and easily skipped over for the more exciting parts of the story. But as the genealogy unfolds, and names of the most renowned bearers of faith in the Jewish tradition are sounded off, the climatic arrival of Jesus bursts forth onto the scene, not by way of biology, but by Spirit. All the fathers of the faith are cut short, Jesus' birth comes by way of God's Spirit, not by way of Adam and Eve. The forebears are important - Mary and Joseph would not be there without them - don't miss that, but Jesus, Jesus' future heritage resides in the work of the Spirit. Jesus' Father is God, making Joseph a foster dad charged with the care of God's only son. No pressure.
Later in Luke, Jesus asks the most searching of questions, "who is my mother? And who are my brothers and sisters?" The answer? "Those who do the will of my Father." The Spirit's work of family making extends beyond the biological bonds between Jesus and Mary. Mary, turns out, is also a foster mom. Jesus belongs to us all as a brother. If Jesus is our brother, then, friends, we're family, too. So, it is no wonder that family has become so intertwined with our Christmas traditions. In Jesus, our family has grown.
Such a profound thing requires us to rethink what it means to be family. It means that when it comes to children, biology does not determine our responsibility for care. Rather, it makes us more likely to consider offering foster care and adoption rather than having our "own" children. Whether you knew it or not, it's why so many of you have offered to help care for our kids, who soon shall arrive - due December 27. The story of Jesus has been so deeply written upon our hearts that such actions have become a natural response to children in need of love. Fathers and mothers of the faith have called this "natural" response a virtue formed by habits. Because of the virtues made possible through the church, I know that I will be able to care for children who are not my "own" because I am part of a family who is not my "own."
With such a large family, the loss of a loved one does not mean the end of family. Rather, such a loss invites the rest of the family to hold you up during your grief. We offer GriefShare every fall and spring because we know that some of our family members still grieve over the loss of a loved one. What is family for if not to share in both the joys and the sorrows?
Jesus' birth is God's gift to the world. Such a gift desires an unwrapping that takes a life time to realize. One such realization is this . . . that we are sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters to Jesus, made possible and empowered by the Spirit. May you discover during this Advent and Christmas the gift of family anew.
Rev. Matt Seaton
I am thankful for all the people who came together to share their gifts in making music and praising God
for our Carol Service on Sunday, December 16, and those who played bells, percussion, strings and trumpet. A special thank you to the children who sang and Mary Beth Cameron who directed them.
And I would like to share appreciation to the Chancel Choir and friends who worked for many hours this past fall toward this presentation.
Music for Sunday
The Bell Choir will play for the 11 a.m. worship service. Also, Mark Harris will play saxophone.
The Chancel Choir will sing a setting of the Isaiah 40 text "Comfort, Comfort, Now My People."
Sunday, December 30, Jenna Batchelor will play flute for the one service at 11 a.m. The choir will sing the English carol "See Amid the Winter's Snow."
During the 5 p.m. family worship service, children of our church will present the play "Jesse, the Little Shepherd" as part of our Nativity Celebration.
Music will include the Bell Choir, Chancel Choir, trumpet, flute, and soloist Mary Beth Cameron.
Music for the 9 p.m. Holy Communion worship service will include Juliano Aniceto on flute and Mary Beth Cameron, soprano soloist.
Family Worship, featuring children participating
in the Christmas story at
Holy Communion at
The offering at the 5 and 9 p.m. worship services on Monday,
will go to the Pastor's Benevolence Fund. This fund will provide support for various needs throughout 2019. Please prayerfully consider supporting this fund.
Please note that the church office will be closed
Tuesday, December 25,
Wednesday, December 26,
in observance of Christmas!
The office staff will operate on "holiday hours"
December 27, 28, and 31.
Please call the church (977-0400) to confirm that the office is open.
The church office will also be closed
Tuesday, January 1,
in observance of New Year's Day!
Preparing for Messiah
Advent reminds us that we live in the "already but not yet" time. The kingdom of God came to earth in a powerful way when
Jesus entered the world. God's kingdom continues today, and it will arrive in its fullness when Jesus returns. These Advent sermons based primarily on the lectionary will help us prepare for the
Messiah and then to celebrate his birth.
December 23: "She Believed"
When we believe that God loves us, we rejoice.
December 30: "Growing Like Jesus"
Jesus was fascinated to learn more and more about God's law.
This will be one service at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary.
Worship themes are prayerfully and carefully selected.
Make regular worship a priority in your life.
Heritage District Christmas Offering
The 2018 Christmas Offering will support the restoration of 30 parsonages and 90 churches devastated by Hurricane Florence in September 2018. When wind and water closed many doors, churches, despite damage, remained open, serving the needs in their communities.
We hope you will give to this very special Christmas Offering to restore our churches in worship and ministry. Please make checks payable to FUMC and include "Heritage-Christmas Offering" on the memo line. Thank you for your gifts.
"Antidotes for the Out-of-Control Life"
January 6-27, 2019
This series is designed to offer biblical and relevant answers to areas
of our lives that can frequently cause us stress. These areas include a hectic lifestyle, over commitment, the myth that I am indispensable, spending more than I can afford, fear of the future, anxiety about my job, and worry about my family.
January 6: "Slowing Down in a Hurry Up World"
In the midst of our responsibilities and others' expectations,
God calls us to rest and rejuvenate.
January 13: "If I Don't Do It . . . Remember Rule #6"
Instead of feeling compelled to do everything, God calls us
to prayerfully prioritize.
January 20: "Why Less Is Usually More"
Matthew 6:19-21, 25-33
Do not worry about things but strive first for the
kingdom of God.
January 27: "Finding Peace in a High Anxiety World"
When we trust in God, he delivers us from our fears.
Worship themes are prayerfully and carefully selected.
Make regular worship a priority in your life.
Thank You Note from
Williford Elementary School
Spencer Batchelor and his crew took a Thanksgiving Meal to the staff at Williford Elementary School on Wednesday, November 21. Please note below all the messages:
We are having T-shirts made celebrating the 30th anniversary of our mission teams to Costa Rica. If you would like to purchase one of these
please contact Suzanne Dempsey (903-0292) or call the church office (977-0400) with size and number
Notes of Encouragement Requested!
Alexandra Whicker, FUMC member and daughter of Gene and Sue Whicker, is serving in the Peace Corps in Moldova in Eastern Europe. This is her second Christmas away from home in a foreign country where her living conditions are very harsh, but she continues to provide care for those in need. We would like to show Alex some FUMC love and support by emailing her "words of encouragement" and "Merry Christmas!" Her email address is
If your student is planning to attend the Youth Ski Retreat at Lake Junaluska on
January 25-27, the
$75 deposit is due
Trip details to come!
The youth group will be going to a Men's Basketball Game on
January 5 at NC Wesleyan to participate in their "Youth Celebration Day!" The game is at 2 p.m. We will leave the church at 12:30 p.m. and get lunch on the way. The students are asked to bring money for their food. The game is free!
It is that time again! Time for us to continue our journey with our students as they make their way through confirmation. The class will officially begin on
January 13 at
4 p.m. with an orientation meeting in the annex. Students, parents, and mentors are all invited to this great time of fellowship as we learn about confirmation and prepare to kick off this wonderful class. Regular-scheduled classes will be on Sunday afternoons, 3:30-4:30 p.m., in the annex, starting January 21. If your student is in the sixth grade and above and has not taken the confirmation class, we would love to have him/her join us!
We encourage you to stay connected with what's going on in youth group!
You can do that through our
Or follow us on our FUMC Family Ministry Facebook page
No Youth Group
Dec. 23 or 30
Resumes January 6
in the annex
Dec. 26 or Jan. 2
Resumes Jan. 9
Rooms 35 & 36
Our Big Night
Studies for January 2019
Our Big Night returns
Wednesday, January 9
. This is an opportunity to gather together as a church for fellowship and spiritual growth. A buffet-style meal will be offered 5:15-6:15 p.m. in the fellowship hall. Children's
programming will begin at 6 p.m. Adult studies will begin at 6:30 p.m.
(Note: Covenant class will begin at 6 p.m.)
Sign-up sheets will be in The Hub. Please check out the adult studies listed below:
Christian Cancer Support Group
The Christian Cancer Support Group for any individuals (either inside FUMC or outside FUMC) with any type of cancer and their caregivers/loved ones will resume January 9,
6-7:30 p.m. at the home of Garry and Virginia Ward (3320 Cornwallis Drive, Rocky Mount, NC 27804). This group will meet the second Wednesday of each month thereafter. Garry and Virginia welcome your questions!
(Virginia @ 252-903-0353/Garry @ 252-903-2436)
Trusting Participant Guide: Life, as we all know too well, is imperfect. Difficulties are inevitable. That's why the final eight-weeks, Trusting the Covenant, looks at the crises that sometimes call covenant life into question, and how we are restored to trust in God when troubling things happen. This module discusses the loss of hope, and how it is restored by faithfulness in the midst of suffering. From the story of Job, to the Hebrew exile, to the apocalyptic visions in Daniel and Revelation, we learn how faithful love is at work in everything--to restore hope, freedom, and wholeness to our lives. It is not necessary to have taken Modules 1 and 2 before signing up for this class.
This study, which will meet at 6 p.m., will be facilitated by Rev. Lynn Benson.
Film, Jesus, and Theology
Do you love movies? Do you love Jesus? Want to learn more about who God is? If you answered 'yes" to any of those questions, then come check out this new class. One way of describing God is as a story teller. We see this in the way Jesus related to those around him and the parables he told. He did this because stories have a way of changing us and shaping us. Movies that tell a good story can do the same thing for us today. Let's look at some films together where Jesus may not be explicitly portrayed on film, but his Spirit is definitely there.
This study will be facilitated by Will Geanes.
is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life's most difficult experiences. Don't go through your grief journey alone. Melissa Bynum will lead this wonderful class Sunday afternoons, 3-5 p.m., beginning January 13. For more information or to sign up for the class, please contact Melissa
Parent Every Week Like It Counts
"Parenting is harder than you think. Parenting is lonelier than you think."
This parenting discussion group will help parents become more intentional at home and more connected to our church. The group will learn about phases, timeframes in a student's life when we can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future for good. The group will reflect on the book, Don't Miss It - Parent Every Week Like It Counts by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy. We will learn how the Orange model of an intentional partnership between the home and our church can enrich parents and students. Rev. Jim Bell will facilitate this class.
Focusing on learning how to inductively study scripture, this class will read through the Gospel of Luke together. The inductive method of bible study is an essential tool used by many to understand scripture. Learning this method will make for a more robust study of scripture and give you new insights into God's Word. Come and discover anew what God has to say to you through Luke's Gospel.
This study will be facilitated by Rev. Matt Seaton.
Parents Night Out
Friday, February 15
Bring the kids to the church for an evening of fun with the youth
and enjoy the evening with your spouse doing, well, whatever you'd like.
Saturday, February 16
Come enjoy an evening of fine dining and reconnect with the love of your life.
Make it a priority to focus on your marriage and
encourage the richness of your relationship.
Join Marty and Danelle Cauley for a guided journey
to celebrate your marriage
and your partner.
CHURCH COUNCIL APPROVES NEW STAFF POSITION
The Church Council approved a recommendation from the SPRC to convert our part-time Contemporary Worship Service Leader position to a new, full-time position:
Contemporary Worship Service Leader and Communications Director. This new position will be responsible not only for leading our Praise Band and directing and facilitating excellent, passionate worship at our 9 a.m. service, but also for coordinating communications in our congregation - and beyond - to promote the church's mission and ministries.
This will include oversight of our website, new digital board, monitor in The Hub, church App, and other social media, and also the regular production of videos and slideshows of our ministries. After a discernment process and study of other churches, SPRC believes this new position will attract a deeper pool of candidates with the complimentary skill sets and talents to help grow our church and its impact in many ways that we have been dreaming about for years. We are excited about the possibilities!
For those who are interested in applying, please send a letter of interest,
and three references to the Rev. Jim Bell, Lead Pastor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shoes 4 Miles Helps Runners!
Shoes 4 Miles is a recently-created non-profit organization collecting running gear for runners affected by Hurricane Florence and other natural disasters. Many people's running shoes were destroyed in the flooding from the hurricane, and we wish to help them get back on their feet, and back out running. This includes high school cross-country and track participants. Running is a great stress reliever for people of all ages, and a great source of competition as well.
Leaders of the group are a couple of United Methodist high school students in Cary. Our church will be receiving new or gently-used running shoes and track spikes in a bin in the fellowship hall labeled "Shoe Drive."
The North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church is providing drop-off locations and promotion for donations. More information is available at www.shoes4miles.org.
Williford Elementary needs...
Volunteers to read with or read to K-2 students chosen by their teacher. 30 min.-1 hr. once/week, one-on-one.
Library Helpers to read to a class during their library time, or assist the librarian with the class activity, or assist the librarian with other chores. Unfortunately, the librarian is only at Williford on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as she has been assigned to serve two schools. She welcomes any assistance for any amount of time!
Donated school supplies and classroom essentials: (Just drop off in designated space at the rear of the fellowship hall.) Bandaids, Kleenex, Lysol wipes, construction paper, pencils, erasers(snap-on or pink block), glue sticks, hand sanitizer, wide-ruled notebook paper, ziplock bags(all sizes needed), and 2-pocket folders w/out prongs.
Money donations for Williford library books and/or other classroom essentials as needed by teachers.
Remember that a NRMS approval is required to work with the children, but the application process is easily done on the NRMS website. Contact Bridget Rogers at email@example.com or 252-450-0860 for questions. Please consider helping out our neighbors in any of these ways. Thank you!!
Child Care Workers for December and January
12/23 9:00 Melody Bell, Beth Joseph
11:00 Fran Glover, Amber Hinson
12/30 11:00 Michelle Batchelor, Kitty Turner
1/6 9:00 Addie Jones, Kelley Tyndall
11:00 Debra West, Wendy Wilson
1/13 9:00 Katie Harrison, Lindy Williams
11:00 Sarah Prezioso, Bridget Rogers
1/20 9:00 Mary Lew Benson, Amy Luttrell
11:00 Addie Jones, Kitty Turner
1/27 9:00 Kim Cross, Heather Kim
11:00 Debbie Bonner, Fran Glover
Our Church Family
In Memory of Eoline Patton, Bennett & Joyce Jenkins, Bud & Frances Gravander, and Milton Havnaer (
Food Bag Ministry).
In Memory of Lillian Robinson Boney
(MMCB Piggly Wiggly Gift Cards) by Cassandra Weatherford.
Mary Randall and her daughter, Kayla, to our fellowship. Mary's fellowship friends are Debra Boudreau, Karen Boyette, Jena Katkaveck, and Debbie Ray.
The pastors and staff of FUMC express their sympathy to the family of Dee Chick on the passing of her husband,
R. L. Chick, a former member of FUMC; and Vickie Bullard and her family on the passing of her mother,
Ida Briley, and to Nicole Perry and her family on the passing of her grandmother.
Attention Amazon Shoppers
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Give anytime, anywhere! We welcome your online donation, where you can schedule your recurring donation or your one-time gift. It's fast and easy.
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Worship Services Available
Please be reminded that if you miss a worship service, you still have the opportunity to listen to any of the FUMC sermons via our
"To Know Christ and to Make Christ Known"