Dear Friends,

Advent continues this Sunday as we light our pink Advent candle, and celebrate joy!

A couple of years ago I saw this Walmart TV commercial that is very clever and cute but invites me into more ways to Christmas joy – cookies, tinsel, presents, family, all of which it seems can be bought at Walmart. Kohl’s also produced a Christmas commercial last year inviting us to find Christmas joy at Kohl’s. It seems as if there are many places one can acquire joy at Christmas, at least… a certain kind of joy, a joy perhaps more akin to happiness, and temporary happiness at that.

Because whenever our fulfillment is dependent on something we can possess or acquire, it will never be true fulfillment, true joy. Joy goes deeper than that, joy is a heart matter, and for those of us who are part of faith traditions, it’s a spiritual matter.

This Sunday we will be examining the heart matter of joy in worship as we look at verse three of O Little Town of Bethlehem and a reading from Zephaniah 3:14-17 CEB. As we recognize in Advent through our sermon series, this time of year is a complex one when it comes to emotions, as we live between hopes and fears, between anxiety and excitement. In this midst of all that Christmas brings, what does joy mean?

I hope you’ll join us Sunday morning in worship at 9 or 11 and I really hope you’ll join us Sunday night as well as we celebrate the coming of Christ with our musical celebration A King is Born. Invite a friend or neighbor, someone who may need community, who may need joy this Christmas season, so that the truest joy, Christ, can be experienced and celebrated.

In Christ,
Pastor Kathleen

A KING IS BORN — This Sunday evening, December 16, will be our Christmas Musical at 6 pm. The Handbell Ensemble, Praise Team, Chancel Choir and Children will all be performing.

Join us afterwards for some Christmas Treats! You are welcome to bring something to share.

SHARE THE LIGHT — Methodist Family Health is collecting donations for financial support of their mission to provide psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual help to thousands of Arkansas children and their families. If you would like to make a special donation on December 9 or 16, there are special giving envelopes on the Welcome Center table or you can mark the memo line of your check for MFH/Share the Light.

CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS — If your family does not already have an ornament on our Family Tree, we invite you to bring one this Sunday with your names on the back and place it on the Family Tree in the Sanctuary.

SERVE AND SHARE SURVEYS — Remember, in this season of giving, to turn in your Serve & Share Survey! We will be planning our ministries based on your commitments, so let us know what gives you joy, what gifts and talents you’d like to share and how you wish to serve God in 2019! You can fill out a paper copy that you have received in worship or can pick up in the back of the Sanctuary OR you can complete the survey online here. Thank you for sharing your gifts and serving God through the ministries of Cornerstone UMC!

ANGEL TREE  — Please remember to return your Salvation Army gifts, unwrapped, by Sunday, December 16. There are clear bags at the back of the Sanctuary for these gifts.

WOODEN NATIVITY SCENE — Here is a little historical background for the somewhat unusual carved wooden Nativity figures which have been displayed at the front of the church in back of the prayer rails during the Advent and Christmas seasons:

The Nativity figures were carved by a Liberian craftsman for our church, then known as Huntington Avenue United Methodist Church. The carvings were commissioned by Charles and Mary Hartwig, who were teaching during the 1985-1986 academic year at Cuttington University College, near Gbarnga, Liberia, in West Africa. (The college had been established by US Episcopalians in the 19th century.)

The first of two terrible civil wars erupted three years after Charles and Mary (and their children Karin and Markus) left Liberia in 1986. The college suffered severe looting during the wars, and it is not known if the carver survived the wars — or the more recent Ebola epidemic. (He signed his nativity set with the word “Jimiy” carved into the bottom of the cradle.) His carvings remain in Jonesboro, however, as a testament to his skills and the devotion of Christians in West Africa.

UMW COOKBOOK —  The United Methodist Women is publishing a Cornerstone Cookbook! Please begin gathering your recipes. The UMW would love to have your recipes used during Country Fair & Auction, Glorious Giving Market and those recipes in honor or memory of church members. Recipes will be collected from October  7 – December 31.

Cost of the cookbook will be $15 (and includes the cookbook, recipe easel (stand) and an e-copy), and all proceeds will go to CUMW Missions. Pre-sales will begin October 20 at CFA and the cookbooks will be available for pick-up May 1, 2019. Email questions or recipes to missmryj@yahoo.com (Mary Montgomery), nmrainh20@yahoo.com (Nancy Rainwater) or sshelton2017@gmail.com (Susan Shelton).

MUSIC MINISTRIES —  All are welcome to play or sing. If you are interested, contact one of our music folks today. Ethel May Beall is our Accompanist (ebrook50@hotmail.com). Our Music Director is Laura Syc (music@cornerstoneumc.net).

HELPING NEIGHBORS FOOD PANTRY —  Thank you for helping us keep the food pantry stocked at Helping Neighbors. Drop your donations off anytime at the back of the sanctuary.  Week of 12/23 – Canned meat, tuna, chicken, spam, ravioli, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, stew.

Sunday, December 16 – Youth Lunch & A Christmas Story the Musical at FOA
Sunday, December 16 – Christmas Musical at 6:00 p.m. (Final Rehearsal at 5:30 p.m.)
Friday, December 21 – Longest Night Service (A Special Service for those dealing with grief during the holidays)
Monday, December 24 – Christmas Eve Services at 5 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Tuesday, December 25 – Christmas Day (office closed)
Wednesday, December 26 – Office Closed
December 29 – January 1 – Youth Ski Trip
Sunday, December 30 – One Worship Service at 10:00 a.m. (No Sunday school)

WEATHER — In case we have inclement weather, always check your e- mail, Facebook, TV, etc. for lists of closings. Pastor Kathleen will make the announcements any time she feels that traveling would be too dangerous for us to attend scheduled events, church services, etc