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January, 2020 - Issue #184
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Christmas is our Second Chance
It's Christmas "time," enjoy it! The Bible teaches that we all live between two eternities. Adam and Eve lived in eternity until they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. As a result, God, in His mercy and grace, kicked the first couple out of the eternal garden and moved them into "time." If they had stayed in Eden and eaten from the Tree of Eternal Life they would have remained doomed in their fallen, broken, sinful state for all eternity. Instead, God moved them into "time" to give them a second chance to make their situation right.

Christmas is the gift of second chances. God sent His only begotten Son into "time" on Christmas morning to be with us, to rescue us and to provide a way back for us - when we die - to eternity with God. Jesus is our way and our bridge back to a loving eternal future with God instead of an eternity flawed and disconnected with God.

So, this Christmas don't forget the reason for the season. One day when we die, time will be no more and we'll all face God and give an account of our lives. Make sure you have the free gift of eternal life Jesus offers us all for Christmas. Then, when time is no more, we'll be back in the intended eternal kingdom of love that God always planned for us. Merry Christmas!
thebridgescv.com

What a Christmas Card can't Do
by Joe Campeau

My wife and I gave up long ago trying to get our Christmas cards out on time. We just never quite seemed to be able to shoehorn that task in before we ran out of time. Now, you're still in the running to receive a card, even if it doesn't come until just before Easter.

Still, though few of us use the mail much anymore, sending Christmas cards is still something many of us do. The ones in my mailbox will contain pictures of kids I haven't seen in years and once again I will wonder how they could possibly have gotten so much older while I haven't aged at all. The Xeroxed Christmas letters will bring me up to date on what's going on in the lives of people who were once such a central part of my life but with whom I communicate now only through a yearly card. If I'm lucky, they'll include a quick hand-written note indicating they were actually thinking of me when they stuffed the envelope.

But there is one thing Christmas cards cannot do. They cannot make present the person who sent them. They are a reminder of the one who mailed them, but they are not that person him or herself. That's why God sent his Christmas greetings in the form of Jesus. God's Christmas card - his message, his Word - is God made flesh, bone and blood in our very real, messy world. There's a word for that. It's called Incarnation. God putting on our skin. It turns out that God did one better than sending a Christmas card. He mailed himself.
Joe Campeau is senior pastor at Christ Lutheran Church. 259-0200
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Is It All About You?
by Cornell Winston

What an interesting group of characters: a teenage girl and boy, an older woman and man who are childless, a group of lowly shepherds in the field, wisemen from the east - and a decree from Caesar to be registered, but to do it in your own city. What a diverse - yet connected - group of people who all come together in order for a baby to be born!

What they all have in common is that they were not looking for an assignment from God, but made themselves available to be used by God. When the angel came to Mary to announce her assignment, she replied, "I belong to the Lord, body and soul, let it happen as you say."

Extending yourself outside your comfort zone puts you in a position to be used by God. God is not looking for ability, but availability. This holiday season, can you make yourself available to be used by God? Will you be a shepherd that follows a star to see about a helpless family? Will you be an encourager to someone who is down trodden? Will you be a person that gives a gift without expecting one in return? This holiday season, make it more than about yourself.
Reverend Cornell Winston of Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship. 298-8189

The Seven Things we Know to be True
by Nicole Reilley
This is always a great time of year to return to the basics and see how we are doing! In our community, our basics are found in our Seven Things we Know to be True:

All Means All. We are an inclusive community, open and affirming of all people. Gay or straight, young or old, grew up in the faith or just trying it out? Everyone is welcomed and included.

Everyone Has Stuff and That's Ok. We are regular people and all of us have a past, have struggles and are searching - it is part of the human condition and it's Ok.
Your Story is Important. You and your story matter to God and matter to us. That is why small groups are a core value here.

Families Come in All Shapes and Sizes. Single? Married? Kids? Our families come in all shapes and sizes and we celebrate that diversity.

God's Love Changes Everything. We live more fully and as we have been loved, we have been freed to love. God's love does that.

The Bible has a Message for us Today. We are excited to hear what God's word has to say to us today and worship gives us insight on how we take what we learn into the world.

We are #hereforgood. Following Christ is about living as his people in the world - we were the lead church in bringing Family Promise to the Santa Clarita Valley. We continue to serve and make a difference in Christ's name.
Start your year off right by trying us out on Sundays at 9am or 10:30am.
Nicole Reilley is pastor of Valencia United Methodist Church. umcv.org
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