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December, 2019 - Issue #183

Doing Christmas your own Way
by Nicole Reilley
My mother is the closest thing there is to an actual Mrs. Claus. She always decorated the house, covering every surface with decorations and fresh greens. She baked dozens of cookies, favorites of every child and neighbor. She decorated the tree and bought gifts that were so numerous, it felt more like a toy store than a family home. Her Christmas dinners were perfect, with everyone's favorites.
I am blessed that my mom is still a part of my Christmas, and while she has toned it down a bit, she has turned over her love of the holidays to me. Only problem is, I work full time, don't bake or cook and don't enjoy shopping. So, over the years I have had to learn to do Christmas my own way.
Christmas is such an amazing time, but it can also be one of stress. We can feel the ghosts of Christmas past telling us there is only one way to do the holidays. But what if this year were different?
Join us each Sunday at 9am and 10:30am (And via livestream at umcv.org.) as we look at the Christmas dreams of joy, thanksgiving, peace, hope, faith and love. There is a place for you here - and no one belongs here more than you.
Reverend Nicole Reilley is the lead/teaching pastor at Valencia United Methodist Church. umcv.org

Celebrate Christmas at NorthPark
Don't miss these fun, free events at NorthPark! First up is Christmas Cafe on Sunday, December 8. From 6pm to 8pm, enjoy this event that features touring artists who come home to perform Christmas classics. On Sunday, December 15 is Cookies with Santa. From 2pm to 4pm, this event includes cookies, Santa, crafts, story time, live music and picture opportunities with Santa. Christmas Eve Services will be held on Tuesday, December 24 at 4pm and 6pm; pull up a seat to Jesus's table as He creates a family Christmas.
NorthPark Community Church northpark.com

Don't Fill in the Blanks by Dave White
Nothing ruins relationships like assumptions - it diminishes, distorts and eventually destroys. In an age of assumptions and accusations, we have to stop it! Fortunately, we can. If you want meaningful, lasting relationships with others, then we need a world where we "don't fill in the blanks."
In our lust to know and to feel in control, we easily project and presume - often the very worst.
"He hasn't returned my text. He must hate me."
"She's late. She obviously doesn't care."
Don't fill in the blanks! The world is already filled with enough bias, prejudice and spin. Choosing to restrain your mind from runaway thoughts can dramatically change your life for the good.
Sadly, I've seen businesses fold because of evil suspicions, marriages fail from partners assuming the worst, friendships part from false accusations, churches split from judgmental know-it-all thinking and even my son's college football buddies suspended from made-up stories.
It's terrible. This is why God gave us the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16). We are not to bear false witness about our neighbor. We are to give others the benefit of the doubt and the presumption of innocence. Join me in exposing the threats of a "fill-in-the-blanks" uncharitable mind and helping to build a community of love, patience and humility where relationships can truly thrive.
Pastor Dave White of The Bridge. thebridgescv.com

Discovering the Traditions of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem during the time of the great second-century Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah, which means dedication, falls in the calendar around November or December. Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights and it is celebrated by the lighting of the menorah, eating traditional holiday food, games and gifts.
One form of gifts given on Hanukkah are called "gelt" or money. This tradition of giving money on Hanukkah is a long-standing tradition, and it's origin maybe in the celebration of the victory of Maccabi in their revolt. To celebrate the victory they minted coins. Nonetheless, the tradition of giving gelt has become one of the most noticeable traditions on Hanukkah.
While there are many practical and spiritual reasons for giving gelt, there is one that sticks out. Many years ago, students would bring gelt to their teachers on Hanukkah. This was a token of gratitude to their instruction and an act of showing respect to those who are deserving of being honored. In a similar act of thankfulness, in the past children would collect gelt and then purchase, distribute and hand out food and other necessities to those in need. With whatever money and food they had left over they would honor their teachers with a feast.
Ideally at this time of year, money and gifts were used as a way to show gratitude and honor for others in our lives. This year as we enter into the gift-giving season, let us consider those who we are grateful for in our lives and use this opportunity to gift our thankfulness. Gratitude is truly a gift that keeps on giving.
Congregation Beth Shalom 254-2411

Saturday | December 7
The Master's University School of Music Presents "Come Christmas Sing!"
The annual concert series, themed "Unto Us a Child is Born," will be featuring Christmas favorites and Handel's Messiah. This year, the concert series will be held again at Grace Community Church for one day only! Tickets are $12 to $15, plus fees, and can be purchased online or by calling. Come and experience the concerts you know and love! 362-2255
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