HMC E-Newsletter December 8, 2011

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
Christmas Banquet THIS Sunday December 11th 5:30PM. Celebrate faith with our biggest event of the year! Main dish provided, please bring a side to share. This is a fantastic time to show off your sense of humor, your talent in song, drama, or art. If you have something to contribute to the program, please talk with Linda Washburn!
December 18, 6-8PM: Christmas in the Park: Spring Valley Village Park (1025 Campbell, 1 block North of Katy Freeway). Come live the Christmas Story! Live Re-enactment and Nativity, FREE Camel Rides and petting zoo, music, entertainment, refreshments.  Sponsored by 15+ local churches and ministries, including HMC.
HMC will be hosting the refreshments.
We had lots of cookies signed up for, but still need folks to help volunteer to host/serve. This is amazing exposure for our church (if you’re in to that kind of thing), a fantastic time to work side-by-side with some church friends, and a very cool gift to our community (we’re expecting 3000 people). All of those sound good to me. Please email me or sign up Sunday to help host refreshments for this great outreach and ecumenical event. (We need at least 12 volunteers to help us! Come hang out with me!).
Ten Thousand Villages Sunday is December 18. Volunteer, shop, support fair trade!
Holiday Sunday School:  There will be no Sunday School Classes on December 25 (Christmas Day) and January 1 (New Year’s Day).  Classes will resume on January 8, 2012.                                                                    
Christmas is coming to HMC: Support a family this Christmas by buying their family school clothes, presents or other items. Grab a name from one of the stockings at church and give away!
The Peace Club will gather on Dec. 10  and 17 from 3:00-5:00 at the Mennonite Church, 1231 Wirt Rd.  The group will be learning about Human Rights Day and  various  holiday customs of different ethnic groups.  Bring any items such as a dreidel, menorah, wreath, etc. to  share.  There will also be preparation of vegetarian casseroles for the Food Not Bombs nights downtown.  We  hope to practice the Afghan reading project with Lee Loe, so the You Tube presentation can be finalized.  Please E mail me if you can participate (, so I can plan accordingly. 

God’s Got Bigger Plans for you this Christmas than you can imagine
By Marty Troyer

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet, righteousness and peace will kiss each other. –Psalm 85:10 (Read: Psalm 85)

I’ve been a little humbug about Christmas this year. Like Charlie Brown I’ve been lost in the stale stories and busyness, unable to “catch the spirit.” It’s becoming clear a real Christmas miracle would be someone somewhere catching a fresh glimpse of God in the cultural inertia of Consumeranity. God, it seems, has given up competing with the holidays.

But did you hear the words Kathryn recited Sunday in worship? Did the poetry catch you like it did me? She read in her opening that God will “speak peace to his people” (Psalm 85:8). Now remember, peace is the Bible’s biggest word. Not literally, but imaginatively, theologically, and ethically. When God or the prophets hunt for a single word capable of holding all the goodness of God, they always come back to shalom, or what we call peace.

Our two favorite ways to neuter “peace” is to limit it to the absence of conflict or by making all about having “peace of mind.” These can’t begin to capture the beauty and scope of this word, which really means wholeness, health, prosperity, goodness. As Perry Yoder succinctly says, “shalom defines how things should be” and refers not only to our relationship with God but also to how we relate to self, one another, and creation. It’s all the promises of God rolled up into a one-stop-shop word, and it’s ours for the taking. When the Psalmist says “The Lord will give what is good,” shalom is what he has in mind. When the angels sang “Peace on earth” they envisioned the common good dripping with celebration, equity, and joy.

God’s got bigger plans for you this Christmas than you can imagine; because peace (this horizontal-vertical wonderment) is only part of God’s gift to us. The Psalmist presents the best gifts of God dancing with and before us: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet, righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” And it’s all ours!

Like the Christmas story itself, these words are dulled by their religiousness and overuse. But make no mistake, the Psalmist had no bigger, more fantastic, moving words full of as much meaning as these. Clearly God has no plans for trinket gifts that look nice but serve no purpose. No. God wants you to be emotionally, spiritually, financially, socially, vocationally, physically whole and healthy. His vision for you is a life lived without worry or anxiety, bitterness or heartache. God wants you reconciled to neighbor and family, energized in caring and ministry, supported and loved not for what you provide but simply as you are. His gift for you today is “life, and that you might have it in abundance.”

Our text for this coming Sunday uses these big words, but in more practical, real-world, material ways. Isaiah 61 reveals that when God speaks peace, he’s talking about economics and poverty, intercultural relations and racism, prisons and human trafficking. God’s salvation is complete: encompassing both personal and social dimensions.

But even as gift, Big Shalom won’t come unless you do the hard work of opening it up, or perhaps opening yourself up. Give yourself the gift of dreaming what life would look like if you jumped in to the Bible’s biggest word. Take 5 or 25 minutes to rest, meditate and imagine God’s big plans this Christmas.

Respond: God, I stopped thinking big awhile ago when nothing much seemed to be happening spiritually. But if your plans are really that big, who wouldn’t want in on that? AMEN.

Order of Worship for Advent 3, December 11, 2011

We have been promised a day when tears of sorrow will be transformed to shouts of joy, when “ruined cities” will spring to life.  But we live in a “meantime” still marked by oppression, broken hearts, and loss of freedom.  We are invited to hold fast to what is good, even while we wait for God’s intervention.

Call to Worship (see bulletin cover)                        
*Opening Scripture     Psalm 126                           
*Opening Prayer                                                      
*Songs of Praise and Celebration
O come, o come, Immanuel  HWB #172, (vs 1,2,3,6)

Lord, you sometimes speak
HWB #594

Scripture                      Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Christmas Choir – Silent Night
Children’s Message                                                     

Song of Response God remembers SJ #107
Sermon reflections, Sharing Joys and Concerns

Connecting More Fully                         
*Sending Scripture       Isaiah 52:7                          
*Song of Sending         The Lord life you up  SJ #31
*Blessing (see bulletin cover) 

Thank you to the following for sharing your gifts! Worship Leader: David Bachelle; Speaker: Marty Troyer; Song Leader: Nick Gehman; Children’s Church: Jane McNair.

The Peace Pastor: Gospel Redistricting: How Advent is Redrawing the landscape

A quick search at confirms my suspicion: tis the season for redistricting…

I bring this up because redistricting -or something like it – is at the core of the Advent season. All four of the gospel story tellers quote Isaiah 40:3-4 to define and defend the ministry of John, who came to prepare the way for Jesus. “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.”

You can read the full article here: and follow the very interesting comment stream on race and privilege.

 Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
►Adults: Living More with Less book study
►Junior High/High School Youth:  with Lynda and Roxie Voran, in the Annex.

** Children’s Church:  During worship in our children’s ministry room for kids aged 1-5. They learn a Bible story, sing, and play together.

Pastoral Care                          
Do you want a person to talk with about something in your life? Got a question or insight into faith or scripture you want to kick around? Have you been sitting on a great idea for the church? Need prayer? Want to get to know your pastor better? As your pastor, I’m available to meet with you at the office or at a time and spot that works better for you. Just let me know when and where! Monday’s through Thursdays, and weekends by appointment. Marty Troyer, church office (713)464-4865,, also available on Facebook.

Additional Information        
HMC E-Newsletter is compiled by Houston Mennonite Church pastor Marty Troyer.
All are invited and encouraged to share articles, personal updates, stories, announcements, pictures, etc… to include in the weekly updates. Know of others
who would like to receive HMC E-Newsletter e-mails from Houston Mennonite?  Have them send name and e-mail to Marty at

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