Church Family Newsletter | December 18, 2021
News of Great Joy
I write these lines only ten days before Christmas. The news is full of political strife, devastating weather phenomena, yet another pandemic extending variant, topped off by a drastic drop in giving to The Salvation Army’s Christmas outreach programs.
I mentioned in a previous note that my neighbor has an illuminated sign on his lawn proclaiming “JOY” in letters six feet tall!
The Jazz channel which is my default radio station in the car is playing “Joy to the World”, although I often wonder what George Handel and Isaac Watts would think about some of the treatments their praise song is subjected to. Google classifies the song as “Pop, Holiday” and I don’t think I can disagree if “Pop” means “Popular” and “Holiday” means “for a holy day”.
But inevitably cognitive dissonance sets in. The world is demonstrably NOT filled with joy, neither is there peace on earth. Goodwill toward mankind is definitely in short supply everywhere I look. Apparently, we are not experiencing the fulfillment of the message of the angels.
And, unsurprisingly, not everyone is delighted with Christmas.
In fact, many people dread being subjected to expressions of well-being to which they cannot relate. For some, it is a time of great sadness as they contemplate the loss of who or what was dear, or the challenge of an empty future.
In 1863 during the American Civil War, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem titled “Christmas Bells” which has become the carol “I heard the bells on Christmas Day”.
Longfellow notes with sadness:
‘And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”’
Why then do we Christians continue to insist that Christmas is the second most important day — Easter is indisputably the first!— in the history of the world?
What has become of promised joy?
As usual, Jesus is way ahead of us. Listen to his words to his followers just before he ascended to resume his rightful place as ruler of the universe as recorded in John 16:33,
“…in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” [NIV]
Note that Jesus didn’t come to impose peace upon the world. He came so that those who follow him would have peace in him!
So the message of the angels seems to mean that they are announcing today that joy is now available to all mankind. Glad tidings! Great joy! Come and get it!
This could rightly be claimed as the first Christmas commercial! Joy and peace were certainly lacking before the birth of the Christ child.
Jesus harbored no illusions that the world to which he came would embrace his coming. In fact, he said that his followers would be hated by the world in the same way as it hated him. For me, that would most definitely be a major downer and a source of depression were it not for the promise Jesus makes in John 16:22,
“…Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
Or as the Apostle Peter puts it in 1 Peter 1:8,
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” [NIV].
I admit that I am very partial to the King James translation of these words as “…joy, unspeakable, and full of glory!”
And so, even through sadness and turmoil, grief and despair, depression and hardship, we continue to hold fast to the promise of the angels on that first Christmas. We are assured that we are engaged in fulfilling a long-term plan by the creator of our universe to bring mankind into fellowship with Him. Longfellow also recognized this in the last stanza of his poem:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
This world needs not just a dose of joy, but a relationship with the one who is the source of joy, and can make that joy complete.
I trust and pray that you are experiencing that unspeakable joy, and if not, may I add my endorsement and recommendation, and point you at its source?
Regardless of your circumstances I am convinced you will not be disappointed.
Tidings of comfort and joy, indeed!
Blessings on you and yours,
Hands - Poem Video
This may have been written for Christmas 2020, but I believe that this is relevant for 2021 as well. God bless you.
Catherine & Alistaire Stevenson
This Week's Schedule
- 8:30 AM - TLP House Meeting & Breakfast - Fireside Room
- 9:30 AM - Praise Team Rehearsal - Chapel
- 10:00 AM - Corps Cadets & Sunday School - Library & Prayer Room
- 11:00 AM - Fourth Advent Service - In-Person and Streaming on The Salvation Army Concord Corps Family Facebook Page (not the general page)
- 12:15 PM - Fellowship Time - Fireside Room (passing out gifts, exchanging Christmas cards, and enjoying refreshments together)
- 9:30 AM - Christmas Clean-Up - We will be tidying and putting away remaining gifts from Christmas distribution. If you would like to help with this, please come on down!
- 11:30 AM - CAMEO Christmas Party - Old Spaghetti Factory (Please RSVP with Major Willdonna or Myung by Monday.)
- 6:00 PM - Men's Bible Study
- 6:30 PM - Ladies' Game Night Christmas Party - Judy's Home
THURSDAY: No Programming - Cadet leaves Concord
Continue to keep us in prayer as we finish out this last week of Red Kettles. Also, keep in prayer all those who received gifts. Let's hope that we can gain at least one family to the fellowship!
We are truly grateful!
Majors Gwyn & AnnMarguerite Jones, the Concord Staff, and Cadet Cody Trimmer
Christmas Food & Gifts: Distribution Week
Rest Home Visitation & Delivery of Gifts (CCM)
Prep Work with Teamwork
Distribution of Gifts at Silvercrest
Christmas Decorating Fun!
Windows on Christmas: Advent Series
Life is all about perspective, and our own perceptions can be clarified and enriched by seeing life’s events through a number of different windows. A fresh look, a different angle can revolutionize our appreciation of truths that might be in danger of growing stale and tired. This Advent we will be looking through new windows gaining a fresh perspective provided by those who were there, allowing us to see and feel what they saw and felt, and to learn from their responses to these wonderful and powerful events of Christmas.
May we, with grateful hearts, join in the exaltation of the Christ, God’s glorious gift to us! Come and worship…worship Christ, the newborn King! (Windows on Christmas, pp. 11-12, 32)
We hope that you can join us on Sundays at 11:00 AM or on Facebook (The Salvation Army Concord Corps Family Facebook Page).
Here are the themes and speakers/meeting leaders for the day:
11/28 - The Window of Exaltation - Angels (Cadet Cody Trimmer)
12/05 - The Window of Wonder - Mary (Major AnnMarguerite Jones)
12/12 - The Window of Obedience - Joseph (Majors John & Pamilla Brackenbury)
12/19 - The Window of Worship - Shepherds (Major Gwyn Edward Jones)
12/26 - The Window of Witness - Anna (Major AnnMarguerite Jones)
Addressing Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
The National Commander has released a new video directly addressing the latest attack on The Salvation Army. This week, a man named Kenny Xu from the group called Color Us United wrote an opinion editorial in the Wall Street Journal. It is yet another attempt by him to spread misinformation about what we stand for and our mission, which is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination.
The Salvation Army Expands Response to Recent Tornadoes
After an outbreak of tornados struck on Friday evening and continued overnight across parts of the Southern and Midwestern United States, The Salvation Army has activated its Emergency Disaster Services personnel to meet the immediate needs of survivors and first responders.
“We have never seen tornado activity on this scale,” said Emergency Disaster Services Director of The Salvation Army’s Southern Territory, Jeff Jellets. “It’s clear to us that the response efforts required from organizations like ours are vital to the well-being of those who felt the brunt of this event. We implore Americans to support those impacted by the devastating storms by donating what they can to response.”
Disaster Preparedness Overview (December 13, 2021 | As of 1 p.m. ET)
Several steps have already been taken to assist those affected. The organization is expanding its operation to provide immediate assistance through feeding, sheltering, emotional and spiritual care, and other services for tornado survivors.
Overall, The Salvation Army has already served:
- More than 2,143 meals
- Over 2,952 drinks
- More than 2,662 snacks
- Emotional and spiritual care (ESC) consultations for 186 people
- Serving meals from Jennings Creek Elementary School in Bowling Green
- Providing meals in Madisonville
- A mobile incident command post has been established at Mayfield High School
- Feeding, and providing ESC care in Jonesboro
- Established kitchens alongside the Arkansas Baptists in Black Oak and Truman
- Have been feeding contractors, first responders, and employees after the Amazon fulfillment center collapse in Edwardsville, Illinois
Additional mobile feeding units are being prepared for deployment to serve food, drinks, and emotional and spiritual care to survivors and first responders.
- Each mobile feeding unit can serve 500 to 1,500 meals per day.
Salvation Army disaster personnel are collaborating with federal, state, and local emergency management agencies and other partners to monitor ongoing impacts and evolve response efforts as needed.
The historic storm system crossed six states – Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Mississippi – leaving substantial property damage and an ever-rising death toll in its wake.
With a presence in almost every ZIP code in the country, The Salvation Army was uniquely positioned to respond with a clear understanding of each impacted area’s needs. Many emergency response teams are already on the ground in the affected areas and surrounding states providing meals, water, supplies and care, with additional canteens, supplies and volunteers on the way.
The Salvation Army’s disaster response is in addition to its current holiday support – typically providing Christmas presents to more than 2.5 million children, and its ongoing response to the pandemic – serving more than 275 million meals and providing over $200 million in financial assistance.
- Donate online: helpsalvationarmy.org
- Donate by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
Click here to share your requests. Requests will be prayed for in our Prayer Room and distributed through our Prayer Chain. Requests can be made anonymously.