December 2018                                                                                    Volume 19, Issue 9 

Christmas Greetings from President Andrew Kissell
What is the best  Christmas present you could possibly receive?

Two of my favorite fictional characters are  Ebenezer Scrooge and the
Grinch. Both had become nasty, miserly, miserable hermits, but were transformed once they understood the  real  meaning of Christmas. 
Ol' Ebenezer, after being visited by the ghosts of Christmases past realized he had wasted his whole life and made a 180-degree turnaround.  As for the Grinch who is characterized as a  nasty no good character, he was redeemed during the holidays, his  heart triples in size, and he joins the Whos for Christmas dinner.
For many today, the real Christmas has been co-opted and diluted. Tim Keller, in his wonderful Christmas book The
Hidden Christmas
, reveals some impor-tant spiritual truths about the birth of our Savior Jesus that sometimes get lost amidst our secular holiday celebrations.
Christmas Lights should remind us that we live in a Dark World and the Light must come from God. The best Christmas present, the gift of grace through Christ Jesus, is not earned or deserved, but a true gift of love and hope at Christmas. 
During Advent I encourage each of you to explore and share the real meaning of  Emmanuel, God with us . Jesus is fully human, fully God and fully with us.
Grace and Peace,
Andrew Kissell

Christmas Greetings from the Virginia Conference UMMen Cabinet
Merry Xmas
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Reflections | Christmas Greetings
A bimonthly email letter 
from agency officers and staff  
of United Methodist Men
December 2018
Click here to view the full newsletter with expanded articles.
Note to Readers : Click on names below to view contributors' photos.
Bishop James Swanson,  recently returned from a 10-day visit to three African nations where he learned how a radio broadcast about the ministry of UMCOR led to the establishment of the UMC in the Central African Republic. The fact that the Church was born during a time of war and upheaval teaches us that the Church is of God. 
Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president of the commission, says a nativity set reminds him of how often Jesus remains stuck in the manger as a benign and sentimental figure.   "But I don't remain depressed for long because the words of Matthew's Gospel figuratively shout out, 'This baby born to Mary is Immanuel, God with us'."   
Gil Hanke , top staff executive of the commission, says he not only says, "Thank you," he adds "Thank you for what you do." He expresses his gratitude to UM Men for what they do to support this ministry to men and youth. "I am thankful for what you do, because our need is critical."  
Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries, takes young people through dark caves where "the mind is squeezed by a limited view, still air, and closed spaces." He suggests life is similar to caving. "Pathways may be difficult; they may twist and turn, but they may take us to a brighter tomorrow."    
Rev. Dr. Rick Vance,  director of the Center for Men's Ministry, suggests that Advent is a good time to reflect on where you are in your spiritual journey. Like the shepherds in the Christmas story, we should go to the place where Jesus was born. "Don't be afraid," he says. "Trust in the plan God has for you . . ."     
Steve Nailor,  president of the National Association of Conference Presidents, urges us to find ways to care for the victims of California fires and hurricanes in the South and East. He suggests we provide financial support through the UM Committee on Relief. Tell him what your group is going to do.  
Mark Lubbock, a Louisiana-based staff member of the commission, urges UM men to find ways to support their pastors. He suggests they recruit men who will pray with and for the pastors and their families. He also suggests men purchase gift cards as a way to express their appreciation.
Words to Live By . . .
Christmas Greetings in Music

George Frideric Handel's
Debut: 1743

Comfort Ye, My People   
Part I, Number 2,  Isaiah 40:1  (NLT)
Behold! A Virgin Shall Conceive
Part I, Number 8, Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)    
 For Unto Us a Child is Born
 Part I, Number 12, Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)
     Glory to God
Part I, Number 17, Luke 2:13-14 (NLT)