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January, 2018 - Issue #160
courtesy of shutterstock
courtesy of shutterstock

How to Make a New Year Better by John Koczman
For some of us, 2017 will be remembered as a good year. For many more of us, it will be remembered for hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and mass shootings. There is not a lot that we can do about that; we are not capable of changing the past.
The future, the New Year, is another story! We can impact the new year starting today. Every choice that we make is an opportunity to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. The future is bright because we have not been there yet. So, what can we do now to make it better when we do get there?
The answer is really quite simple - bring a better you into that new year. Don't wait for something else to happen to make it better - you make it better. Will you bring that caring, hopeful, gracious person you are capable of becoming into that new year? Will you rise above the climate of our culture and offer something better? You can. When you find the source of love then you can allow that source to grow and flourish in you. Let us help you find that better you in 2018.

You're invited to join us for Christmas Eve Worship; at 5:30pm, it will be family style with bells and at 7:00pm, enjoy "The Christmas Anthem." Celebrate Christmas Day at 10am.
Pastor John Koczman of BethlehemSCV. 252-0622


Focus your Energy on the Small Things
It's easy at this time of year to rail against all that we've made Christmas into that it was never intended to be. We become overwhelmed by the demands we place on ourselves when we allow our schedules and our family to be hijacked by the mixture of our own expectations and those of the world around us. It's really hard not to buy into the idea that the bigger and glitzier, the better. But maybe instead of a yearly tantrum about all that, we might focus our energy instead on the small things. That seems to be what God did. The Biblical Christmas story is about peasant girls and cow stalls; about a non-descript couple simply engaged in obeying the edict of an impersonal, distant government; about blue-collar laborers working the night shift; and how God showed up right in the middle of it all on what was otherwise an insignificant night in a manger - with the exception of a brief show by an angel choir that no one apparently saw but the shepherds - that seems almost designed to attract as little attention as possible. Small, simple things: that's what's at the heart of Christmas.
Christ Lutheran Church 259-0200

Resolve to Focus on Biblical Principles
We've had a long year. News of mass shootings, earthquakes, fires and a renewed fear of nuclear war wormed their way into our lives. Our political climate has illuminated our inability to engage one another in respectful discourse about issues. Anger rules the day and is swiftly breaking down our society. Quite frankly, I am tired and look forward to seeing 2017 slip into the rearview mirror.

For 2018, as a person of faith and a Christian pastor, I resolve to do my best to speak peace into my world. I resolve to let my "yes" mean "yes" and my "no" mean "no." I will speak the truth with love and own up to my mistakes and failures. I will extend people the kind of grace that I would like for them to extend to me. I will say "Thank you" and express appreciation.
I am just a single person in a big world. These are simple things in an increasingly-complex world. I have no idea if they will make a difference throughout our city and nation - but if we ditch our usual resolutions and focus on these Biblical principles, together, we can make a difference. Will you join me?

Christmas & New Year's Eve Worship at Valencia United Methodist Church
Christmas Eve
10am Morning Worship
5pm Family Worship
7:30 & 9pm Joyful Worship with Band & Choir
11pm Communion & Candlelight Worship

New Year's Eve
10am Morning Worship

Pastor Steve Peralta of Valencia United Methodist Church. www.umcv.org
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