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Weekly Update, December 18, 2010                                                                                     www.AZCofChrist.org

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Prayer for Peace

World Church News

Arizona Mission Center News

Exploring the Scriptures

Mike’s Meanderings

Prayer for Peace

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace. —Zechariah 8:16 NRSV

Prayer for Peace by Tammy Canterbury. Edgerton, Kansas

Yahweh, Jehovah, Abba, God,

You are known by many names yet you are the creator of us all.  The people who speak your name are as diverse as the names themselves.  Yet we are all your children.

Our differences so often blind us to our kinship.  Forgive us for this blindness that keeps us from seeing the beauty and worth of each soul you have created.

In this day, in this moment, we embrace the beauty of your diverse creation as represented in the peoples of all the nations of the world.  We open our hearts and call each one brother or sister.

Many of our brothers and sisters live in situations of oppression that hinder the full expression of their unique talents and gifts.  We pray in earnest for their freedom so that their lives and indeed the world might be enriched from the open sharing of all they are.

O God, enlighten our minds to the reality that until our brothers and sisters are free there can be no true peace.  Burden us with the knowledge that peace is only present when the worth of all your children is affirmed.  May this burden move us to respond through the empowerment of your Spirit so your promise of peace might be fulfilled.

In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace we pray.  Amen

World Church News

Children and Youth Baptism and Confirmation Material Adapted for New Policy

To help those using Of Water and Spirit (children) and Of Water and Spirit—Deepening the Journey (youth), Community of Christ baptism and confirmation materials, supplements are now available. The supplements provide additional guidance in using the materials with the interim policy on Baptism, Confirmation, and Church Member which take affect January 1, 2011. The supplement for children is available at http://www.cofchrist.org/OnlineResources/OfWaterSpiritChildren.pdf. The supplement for youth is available at http://www.cofchrist.org/OnlineResources/OfWaterSpiritYouth.pdf.

Information on the 2011 Reunions Now Available

The dates, locations, and registrar information for Community of Christ reunions are now available on the website at http://www.cofchrist.org/reunion/schedule.asp. This includes information about the Arizona reunions!

Phone in Year-End Financial Contributions

The automated attendant recording that answers the International Headquarters telephone numbers (816) 833-1000 and 1-800-825-2806 will include a selection for callers who need assistance making a year-end financial contribution while the offices are closed December 24–31. The recording will provide basic information for mailing cash contributions and invite the caller to leave a name and telephone number if they need additional help for contributions of investment securities or other assets. The voice mailbox will be monitored daily and calls will be returned to those who leave messages.

Watch President’s Advent Homily on the Web

Portions of the 2010 Advent Service, including President Veazey's homily, help us to prepare for the coming of Christ during this Advent season. Visit the church’s website at http://www.cofchrist.org/broadcast/2010archive.asp#Advent2010

Arizona Mission Center News

Yuletide New Year’s Youth Retreat Plans Underway
Junior high and senior high youth are invited to a yuletide retreat, December 31 – January 2 at Whispering Pines Campground to usher in the New Year! Watch for additional information by e-mail and on Facebook. Barnaby and Andrea Fletcher are coordinating the retreat. The cost is $45 per person and includes two nights stay and five meals. The registration form is available on the mission center’s website www.azcofchrist.org and also attached. If you plan to attend, notify Barnaby and Andrea soon!

Winter Reunion 2011 Focuses on “Wholeness through Christ: Balance and Connection”

Arizona Winter Reunion, February 20-25, will focus on the reunion theme “Wholeness through Christ: Balance and Connection.” The reunion runs Sunday evening through Friday lunch. Weekday hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held at Phoenix Central Congregation, 4224 North 44th Street, Phoenix. This year, Lela Ayers (lrayers@cox.net) is directing and coordinating the event team. Bob Shute is the registrar. The registration fee before February 1 is $15.00; after February 1, it is $18.00. Bob’s e-mail is bobshute2@cox.net, with regular mail going to 2126 E Stanford Drive, Tempe, AZ 85283. The reunion will feature the ministry of Presiding Evangelist David Brock and Carolyn Brock, Spiritual Formation and Wholeness Minister. A registration form is attached.

 

Ministry and Leadership Institute Traces Developing Theology

The first of three Ministry and Leadership Institutes for 2011 will be 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, March 5, at Phoenix Central congregation. Tony and Charmaine Chvala-Smith (left) will trace the development of Community of Christ theology over the history of the church. Tony and Charmaine serve as Disciple Formation Ministers in Scripture and Theology. Watch for additional information.

Arizona Mission Center Calendar is now available at www.AZCofChrist.org and a copy is attached.

Exploring the Scriptures

Emmanuel: God with Us
Scripture
: Matthew 1:18–25/2:1–8 IV

This scripture follows Matthew’s introduction of Jesus’ genealogy, which presents God’s redemptive plan from Abraham to Jesus. Matthew’s opening scene is a precursor to the narrative’s whole, presented from the narrator’s post-Easter, Christian perspective, showing God’s active participation in the plan for salvation. The narrative is told through Joseph’s eyes and emphasizes his response, which is also active and participatory in God’s plan.

Joseph and Mary are engaged. In first-century Judaism, engagement was legally binding. Joseph learns of Mary’s pregnancy and assumes that she is guilty of adultery, an act punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22:23–27). However, “being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace,” he responds with mercy and a desire to preserve Mary’s dignity, planning to “dismiss her quietly” through a secret divorce.

Before he can complete the plan, an angel sent by God appears in Joseph’s dream, calling him “son of David,” which again emphasizes Joseph’s role in God’s plan through his Davidic descent. The angel proclaims that Joseph must take Mary as his wife because this baby was conceived “from the Holy Spirit.” When the baby is born, Joseph is instructed to name him “Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” By naming him, Joseph legally accepts Jesus as his son, incorporates him into the line of David, obeys God, and acknowledges God’s plan for Jesus’ life.

Jesus was a common name. The first-century Jewish historian Josephus mentions twenty men with that name, which means “God helps” or “God saves.” The Jewish people were looking for a messiah born through the Davidic line who would save them from foreign oppressors. However, the angel makes it clear that this Jesus “will save his people from their sins.”

Joseph should not be afraid. The angel gives him the assurance that this baby’s birth will fulfill “what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us.’” His family and the people will call him Jesus, but God will name him Emmanuel, “God with us.” This short description reveals the significance of Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus will function in God’s divine plan for salvation. The theology of incarnation, “God with us,” is also introduced. However, incarnation receives clarification in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us,” proclaiming that God was in Christ and reconciling the world to God.

Mike’s Meandering

What do you include as a part of Christmas? As a part of our meal, we make something called “Stack Salad.” I’m sure it was a recipe my grandmother pulled out of the local newspaper (she worked there). Unexplainably, it has become a family tradition now for four generations. We always leave one corner of it without grated cheese—because my middle brother, when he was little—wouldn’t eat cheese.

It’s important to think about what matters most during the Christmas season. Christmas is a celebration of God’s grace and generosity toward humankind—the birth of Jesus. We understand through Jesus more clearly what God is calling us to do: to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free. Jesus set the example—now it’s up to us to include these activities in our Christmas and every day in the New Year.

Do you have a copy of the eight-volume church history which you would be willing to part with? I know sometimes families end up with more than one copy—so if you have an extra one, please let me know.

This Sunday Nancy and I will be at the Chandler congregation.

We will be spending a quiet Christmas at home this year—probably talking on cell phone or Skype with family back in the midwest. I hope you have a merry and blessed Christmas.

Grace and peace,

Mike Hoffman

Arizona USA Mission Center President

Youth Disciple Formation Specialist

Community of Christ

Cell: 480.280.8555   E-mail: mhoffman@CofChrist.org

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