December 1, 2018
Advent Message
This Advent message is also available as a video message to be shared with your congregation.

I have always found it a challenge to get into the spirit of Christmas, if buying lots of presents, baking cookies, decorating trees, and attending parties is what the Christmas spirit means. In fact, I have been called a Scrooge on more than one occasion! I much prefer the other side of Christmas: pondering the scriptures about the advent and birth of Jesus, attending worship, singing Christmas carols, and finding ways to reach out to those who are in need. 

One of my favorite Christmas Carols is “In the Bleak Midwinter,” with words written by Christina Rossetti in 1872 and set to music by the preeminent composer Gustav Holst in 1906. This reflective and even melancholy carol evokes the heart of Christmas, as we are invited to ask ourselves the question,
“What can I give him, poor as I am?”  
 
In the bleak mid-winter, Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter, Long ago.

Angels and archangels, May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim, Thronged the air -
But only His mother, In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved, With a kiss.

What can I give Him, Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him - Give my heart.

What can you give the Christ child this Advent season, poor as you are? How can you make a difference in the life of someone else who needs you to be the visible presence of Christ for them? How can you bring hope and love to our world this Advent season? God bless you.
Advent Devotions
During the season of Advent, beginning December 2, clergy and laity in the Iowa Annual Conference will be sharing online devotions related to Advent and Christmas scriptures. If you would like to subscribe to these devotions, please click on “Advent Devotions” on the home page of the conference website,  www.iaumc.org .

Commission on a Way Forward
The last district gathering around the work of the Commission on a Way Forward will take place this Sunday, December 2, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. at Ankeny First UMC’s Christian Life Center at  710 NE 36 th St .  

December Calendar
Dec. 3-6: Cabinet Appointment-Making Retreat
Dec. 8: CCMC Budget Team Listening Session
Dec. 10-13: College of Bishops Learning Retreat, Washington D.C. 
Dec. 14: Spending the day at the Methodist Building, the only non-governmental building on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. 
Dec. 17: Bishop’s Operational Team
Dec. 18: Extended Cabinet
Dec. 19: Appointive Cabinet

During this season of preparation and anticipation, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ inspire you to reach out to our beautiful, hurting, and hopeful world with generosity, passion, and open hands.