Onaway & Millersburg UMC
Monday, January 25, 2021
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
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Pastor's Letter

Beloved Onaway/ Millersburg UMC families,

Happy New Year!!! Greeting in the name of Jesus, who is Emmanuel.

I hope you all had a truly wonderful and insightful the Holiday. Last Christmas Eve service was very different but special. We had a drive-in worship service in Onaway church parking lot and celebrated Jesus' birth with many Scriptures and carols. It was a snowy, cold, and dark night, and lights of nativity were shining more brightly in the front yard. Also, all the lights you waved were very noticeable and clear in the candle light service. It was really insightful and meaningful time to celebrate Jesus, the light of the world and our lives.

I know many people couldn't attend the service due to inclement weather or any other reasons, but I know that many people listen the radio worship service posted on YouTube and some of you worshiped and celebrated with your heart, wherever you are. I want to emphasize that it is important not to forget that heart, feeling, and spirit of Christmas because it is not over in our heart.

Many people quickly abandon the warmth and love of Christmas for another year, and return to our daily business as usual. God wants us to retain the message and the spirit of our Lord's first Advent throughout the new year. When you pack up your ornaments and Christmas tree, don’t also pack up the beautiful gospel reminder of Jesus Christ, our Savior, in a manger. The Christmas story is about a God who is not distant, but is in fact, God with us. And, it is not only giving us comfort but also giving us responsibility to share and spread this good news to the world!

The new year 2021 is approaching us soon. I think many people, including me, had many hopes and wishes at the start of this year. Looking back, it is not easy to describe the year we lived through last year. So many issues emerged, and some of these are still ongoing, of course, such as the pandemic. That is why we hope many things would be "better" next year. During the Advent, we discussed about HOPE. As mentioned before, our Christmas is not over because Jesus Christ, our only ray of Hope is with us. Standing at the beginning of the new year, let us put down our hopes and petitions in front of God and cast our anxiety/worries on God with our heartfelt prayers. So, I would like to share a prayer for New Year below. Let us start 2021 with prayerful and hopeful heart.

A Prayer for the New Year
Adaptation of a prayer by the Rev. Kevin B. Smalls, from UMC website

God of the ages, you have blessed us with another year.
Help us to make room for the blessings that are in store for us in the coming months.
May we be open to learn the right lessons, even if they hurt a little.
Help us to be patient so that we won’t miss divine opportunities.
Show us how to be fulfilled without material possessions,
so that we will not miss what it means to be a blessed people.
Enable us to be a blessing so you will recognize us
as the ones who gave you bread when you were hungry,
drink when you were thirsty, and clothes when you were naked.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

I hope all of you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!
With love,

Pastor's Challenge: "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)