Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Advent Experience: Waiting in Joy

I can't believe this was the last Sunday of Advent!  To finish our series "The Advent Experience" and our focus on waiting and preparing our hearts for Christmas, we had a Christmas party as we "waited in joy!"  We played the Christmas song picture game where you have to figure out the Christmas song based on a picture puzzle.  We listened to Christmas music and ate a bunch of delicious snacks (thanks to the many church members who provided treats for our party!).  We had a white elephant gift exchange with presents like candy, McDonald's gift cards, mugs, a blanket, homemade bread, binoculars, bottle tops for canned drinks, and even a ball that bounces itself!  We even split into four groups and played a game where each group had to wrap one of their members up like a present.  The team with the best wrapping job won!  Check back for pictures of a fun night at FUSION Gathering.  Merry Christmas!

Remember, we will NOT be meeting next week, December 26th.  See you all again when we resume our weekly Gathering meetings on January 2nd at 7pm. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Party

Don't forget:
THIS Sunday is our FUSION Christmas Party!
Bring a friend and a gift ($5 or less) for our gift exchange.
Come and enjoy snacks and games in addition to our gift exchange.

The Advent Experience: Waiting in Prayer

This week at FUSION Gathering we focused on waiting in prayer.  As a group we traveled to different places around the church and participated in several prayer experiences.  We sang Christmas carols and read different parts of the Christmas story in Scripture at each prayer station.  Then, we had a different prayer experience at each station.  At the first station we prayed about people, places or situations we would like to lift up in prayer, wrote those things on strips of construction paper and then stapled them together to form a prayer chain.
 At the next station, we talked about how many people write letters to Santa this time of year.  Instead, however, we wrote letters God...sharing our hopes and fears, our joys and our sorrows as we sat under the Chrismon tree in the sanctuary.  Once we were done, we sealed our letters in an envelope and placed them at the base of the cross on the altar, knowing that God has already read our words and is present with us in those things we wrote about.

At the next prayer station, we read about the angels appearing to the shepherds.  We made angel ornaments to hang on our Christmas trees to remind us of the angels who proclaimed the good news that Jesus had been born.  We, too, are called to proclaim the good news!

At the last prayer station, we prayed about what character(s) in the nativity scene we most identified with right now.  Maybe it was the worried but joyous Mary or Joseph.  Maybe it was the anxious and excited shepherds, making their way to see the baby who had been born.  Maybe it was the magi who had journeyed far in order to see the holy family.  Maybe it was the angels who were proclaiming the good news.  Or maybe it was the animals who may have been wondering at the spectacle that was happening in their stable.  After praying about it, each person was invited to color and write their name on that character and place it in the nativity scene, symbolically entering into the Christmas story themselves.
Throughout the prayer stations and experiences, we were able to dig a little deeper into the Christmas story and discover various ways of praying as we wait and prepare our hearts for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Advent Experience: Serving while Waiting

For the second week of Advent in our series "the Advent Experience" we discussed the topic of "Serving while Waiting."  We read Luke 1:26-38, the story of Mary hearing the message from the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the son of God.  Miraculously, Mary's last words to the angel are "I am the Lord's servant.  May it be to me as you have said."  Though Mary was "troubled" and most likely scared, surprised and maybe even doubtful, she accepted Gabriel's message from God and proclaimed her servanthood to the Lord most high!  She was willing to do whatever God asked of her...even giving birth to God's son! 

Last week we talked about waiting silently and listening to God's message and plans for us.  This week, we realize through Mary's story, that God calls us to listen and serve others as we prepare for Christmas.  We are called to love God and neighbor as we prepare for Christ's birth!

So, we watched the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas and talked about how the Whos in Whoville loved their neighbors and community so much that having all their Christmas presents, decorations and food stolen from them didn't stop them from celebrating and loving one another.  In fact, they even loved the Grinch through his unkind acts and welcomed him into their community to feast and celebrate together.  In discussion, we came up with many ways that we can be in service and show love to our neighbors this Christmas season: caroling, sharing food, providing warm clothes, visiting others, giving rather than receiving, and much much more. 

To kick off our commitment to be in service while we wait this Advent season, we packed 100 bagged lunches to give to members of our community who come into our church seeking assistance.  We also made cards to give to those receiving these meals, and we decorated Christmas cards to give to our nursing home residents.  So, I want to know, what acts of service are you doing as you wait and prepare your heart for the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ this year?  Comment on this post with your answers!

High School Conference Retreat

We had a great time at the high school conference retreat at Eagle Eyrie this weekend.  We spent the weekend discovering how we are called to ONE: story, people, church and purpose!  We worshipped, spent time in small groups, sang, played games, met some new friends and played in the snow!  We hope more of you will join us next year for this awesome experience.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Advent Experience: Waiting Quietly

This week we began our new series "The Advent Experience".  We began by discussing what the season of Advent is really all about, and how that differs from how society celebrates the Christmas season.  The main focus of our new series will be the theme of waiting.  We're not very good at waiting, are we?  We live in a culture that is definitely not patient and is always looking for things to happen quickly and instantly.  We have fast food, email, texting, internet on our phones, airplanes, even "fast passes" at theme parks which allow us to skip waiting in lines completely! 

We aren't very good at slowing down either.  We all filled out a "How I Use My Day" questionnaire and learned that very few of us have much spare time on our hands.  We also realized that the majority of our day is noisy!  Some of us even sleep with music or the TV on.  So, we tackled the theme of "Waiting Quietly" this week.  We watched the Nooma video entitled Noise and talked about how uncomfortable we often are with silence.  We read 1 Kings 19:9-13, the story of the prophet Elijah and the still small voice.  Elijah found God not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire...but in the whisper.  Some translations say "in the sound of sheer silence."  During this incredibly noisy time of the year, God calls us to wait quietly and listen for God in the silence.  In response, we each wrote down one non-essential activity that we are spending our time on that we are prayerfully committing ourselves to spend less time on in order to spend more time with God.  So, I want to know how that is going?  What activity are you spending less time on (TV, video games, etc.)?  How are you spending more time with God (praying, reading your Bible, devotions, etc.)?  Comment on this post with your responses.

Join us next Sunday night at 7pm as we learn to "Serve while waiting."