CHURCH BRIEFS

Staff reports
The Chronicle-Express

St. Mark's Episcopal

Gift-giving at holiday time is a lovely custom but perhaps a new twist on the tradition is needed this very special year. For instance, perhaps many of the intended recipients already have enough “things” and might even have spent the last few months getting rid of some of them.

These are some suggestions for mindful gift-giving, ways not only to please the recipient but to fit into a smaller budget – and help others besides the recipient!

One way to be a mindful gift-giver is to choose the gift of time and effort, rather than a “boughten” item. A thoughtfully crafted certificate for dog walking, shopping, homemade meals -- all are welcome gifts for families as well as older people, all offered with the necessary Covid precautions.

If you want to spend money instead, gift cards can come in handy, as well – but make sure to read the small print before you purchase them. The same admonition applies to giving money to a charity as a gift to someone. Do some research before you contribute to an organization that may be funneling most of its money to administration or may even be a true scam. Unscrupulous people sometimes use deceptive names for their organizations – it is highly recommended to check Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org/) before you contribute.

Some examples of charities that have a high rating are Heifer International, “a sustainable development organization that works to end hunger and poverty and protect the earth” (from the Heifer website), and Fisher House, “an international not-for-profit organization established to improve the quality of life for members of the military, retirees, Veterans and their families” (from the Fisher House website). Local nonprofits include Keuka Comfort Care Home, The Living Well, Milly’s Pantry, Yates Christmas Program, Hope Center Keuka Food Pantry, and/or your local public library.

Finally, if you want to spend money on gifts, consider doing so locally. Your local purchases keep jobs here in this area – there is a tremendous ripple effect – of the positive kind! Shopping locally either for actual items or for gift cards would be a great help for our local businesses, many of which have been hard hit by the repercussions of the pandemic.

Whatever you celebrate, be it Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, let it be a time of generous giving in a spirit of love. Our church sign says it well: “The best things in life are NOT things.”

Join us at St. Mark’s for Sunday services (and a Christmas Eve service at 4 p.m.) at www.stmarkspennyan.org!

This is the new Bluff Point Communication Center at Bluff Point United Methodist Church, thanks to Stacy Wyant and others.  A good way to keep in touch!

Bluff Point Methodist

Pastor Sandi tells us that we will have some type of Zoom and in-person Christmas Eve service, depending on Covid rules at that time. Keep posted!

Planned also is a drive-through hot chocolate and cookies, with a live nativity.

Happy 99th birthday to our Ernie Pinneo! He is so special to all of us! Now he is beginning his 100th year on earth!Company is coming! Joy is coming! Pastor Sandi shared that we need to decorate and get ready, even though this Christmas will look different than those in our past. We may be tired and stressed, but we need to take 2020 and make the Christmas season one of happy times and memories. We need to help provide light through peace, grace and mercy. She added that we can do this through being thankful and sharing with others. This is a season of joy, love and peace. Shout it out!!!

We are excited to have you join us for the celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus on Dec. 24. Check out our website www.bluffpointumc.com for current worship.

Christmas Blessings for a healthy and peaceful holiday, and a bright New Year 2021!

Penn Yan First Baptist

From all of us at First Baptist Church of Penn Yan, to all of you in our community, we would like to wish you a blessed and peace-filled Christmas.

Penn Yan First Presbyterian

The fourth Advent candle symbolizing Peace was lit this past Sunday. In the modern world, the word “peace” is often associated with being free from conflict, civil disturbances, and war. However, in Biblical times the word peace originated from the Hebrew word of Shalom and had a far deeper meaning. Shalom encompasses completeness, soundness, tranquility, calmness, security, harmony, and reconciliation. A writer stated, “World peace is temporal. Jesus peace is eternal. It is this peace Jesus brings to our hearts and the world.”

If ever there was a year worldwide to set aside our fears and uncertainty and concentrate on coming together in peace, 2020 is that year. Most religions view peace as the basic right of human dignity for all and value mercy and compassion towards our fellow man. If people of all religions can focus on those beliefs, embracing our faith will provide hope and peace.

Now as Christians prepare to light the final white candle for the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve, we are reminded that God had a plan. In the midst of great turmoil a child was born and God proclaimed Jesus Christ to be the Prince of Peace. Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body we are called to peace. And be thankful.” So, no matter where the members of FPC are celebrating Christmas Eve this year, we will be celebrating the true meaning of the Advent season, Hope, Faith, Joy, Peace, and Love.

Branchport Methodist

We will be celebrating Christmas Eve outdoors this year so that we may have music and singing. It will be a short service beginning at 7:30 pm. We invite you to join us at this candlelight service around the nativity and the memorial tree – standing with your family, sitting in a lawn chair or sitting in your car. Please wear a mask and dress for the weather. We will also be using Zoom for those who cannot attend in person. Of course, this year has taught us how to be flexible if nothing else! Changes could be made at the last minute, so check on our Facebook page for the latest information.

Our congregation wishes all of you a very blessed Christmas and a new year full of health and happiness.

For the most up to date information regarding our Advent worship times and Christmas Eve Service please visit our website at www.branchportumc.org or on Facebook: @branchportumc.org. Please contact Pastor Kim at 585-857-7962 with any questions.

St. Michael’s Catholic

Tomorrow is the last day for anyone who wants to attend Masses on Christmas Eve (3 or 5 p.m.) or Christmas Day (9:30 AM) to make a reservation. Our Covid-19 limit is 125 people per Mass. Social distancing and mask wearing is required. Please arrive as early at one half hour prior to the start of Mass for proper seating. Go to our website https://ourladyofthelakescc.org to find the links for reserving your spot.

Our prayer is for all people to recognize how God has been at work in their lives and to give their lives over to Him. God is faithful and keeps His promises. Praise God!

We have been gifted with greetings from some of our Catholic partners, which we extend to you. The Shepherd's Story at https://www.youtube.com/embed/hGKKTGyf_XM?rel=0 and a Christmas song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPfKk2_sNvg&feature=emb_logo. For dog lovers, search on YouTube for Merry Christmas from the Paraclete Pooches!

Our regular Mass schedule resumes on Dec. 26, The Feast of St. Stephen (Read Acts 6 & 7) and 12/27, The Feast of the Holy Family. (How does your family spend time together? Do you call each other to lives of holiness? Ask for the intercession of The Holy Family!)

Dresden United Methodist

The Dec. 6 Dresden United Methodist Church service was started with a prelude by our organist, Sheryl Parkhurst. The Call to Worship was: "When there seems to be no way to end the conflict and violence in our time, we pray that you would teach us, O Christ, to prepare the way." Toby Bond read the Scripture reading from Mark, Chapter One, verses 1-8.

Sheryl played a lovely medley of songs including: Sometimes “Alleluia”; Take the Name of Jesus With You; We Come, O Christ, to You; Of the Father’s Love Begotten; O Thou Joyful, O Thou Wonderful; The Advent of Our God; The Word Made Flesh; Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus; and Joy to the World! She also played her favorite Christmas Carol, which she played at a Christmas service when she was 10 years old: "There's a Song in the Air."

Pastor Marilyn's sermon was about "Preparing for Christ to come". She started by sweeping with a broom, saying just as we prepare for company coming to our house at Christmastime, we should prepare for Christ coming into our lives as a baby. We should prepare our heart and get to work for Christ. We can prepare by getting rid of clutter and junk inside of us that keep us from worshipping and loving God.

We celebrated Communion by using pre-filled packages with both the wafer and juice. Pastor Marilyn reminded us that the symbols of the wafer and juice represent Christ's love for each of us. He is the best gift ever given to us.

Benediction: "Go from this place, prepare hearts full of love, show love to each other and God."

The Dec. 13 service started with Sheryl Parkhurst telling us that shepherds would watch their sheep, which were down in the valleys, from opposite hillsides. It was very lonely. One would play a flute, made out of a dried reed, and another would echo with their flute. They would have companionship that way. Then she played a prelude called "The Shepherds," which sounded like echoing.

Our Call to Worship was: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and the Word was GOD. He was with GOD in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. Pastor Marilyn asked the congregation, "How are we in the midst of all this?" We said, "Blessed." Toby Bond lit the pink Advent candle for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. She read Scripture from Luke, chapter one, verses 5-38.

Sheryl played a lovely medley of songs including: Just a Closer Walk with Thee; He; It Came Upon The Midnight Clear; O Holy Night; The Bells of Christmas; and I’d Like to Teach The World to Sing.

Pastor Marilyn's sermon was about contrasting the stories about Elizabeth and Mary. The Angel Gabriel was the messenger who surprised them both by telling them that they were going to have a baby. They both came from strong lineage. Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron (Moses' brother) and Mary was a descendant of David. Years later, Elizabeth's baby, John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, baptized Jesus. John the Baptist preached about how Jesus wouldn't live long and we know that he didn't live long. Jesus was born a baby to prove that He was a human like you and me. We were chosen by God and we look forward to Christmas and the greatest gift of all -- Jesus.

The beautiful song "Mary Did You Know" was played while a slide show portrayed Jesus' life.

Pastor's benediction: Go forth from this place with a spring in your step knowing that God is here, He came as a baby and died on the cross for our sins. May Grace, Peace and Love be with you all.

We are planning on having a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. at the village gazebo, which is next to the church. Please come, bring your chair, your masks and enjoy this lovely service.

Milo Center United Methodist Church

This week Pastor Kim shared the role of John the Baptist as the great witness to God. She asked us if we were brave enough to be a powerful voice as a witness to the good work of our Savior or if we would fall to the work of the aggressive interrogators among us. By sharing our faith we can provide hope. Hope can be a simile to the Word of Christ.

Hope is not easy. We must practice hope. It means we rejoice always, we pray without ceasing and we give thanks in all circumstances. Definitely not an easy task. This advent season may we find ourselves braver and bolder in sharing our faith, while keeping our sights set on God and live in the hope that Jesus Christ brings. 

What story will you tell? 

Blessings to all. 

-- Our Christmas Eve collection will be to Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes.

-- At this time, we will join for service at 5:30 on Christmas Eve, in person or via Zoom.

-- Continued prayers for: Tammy, Julie, Bob, Amanda, students, people dealing with struggles  of all kinds and losses, our Healthcare workers.

-- Our altar is full of gifts and cards for the Penn Yan Manor Nursing Home residents.

-- Once again, the love that our little church family spreads is unmeasurable.

For the most up to date information regarding our Advent worship times and Christmas Eve Service please visit us on Facebook: @MiloCenterUMC. Please contact Pastor Kim at 585-857-7962 with any questions

Penn Yan United Methodist

Penn Yan United Methodist Church will be hosting Christmas Eve worship online and outdoors this year.  You will find our online service, “A LIGHT WILL SHINE:  The Christmas Story in Word and Song," posted on our website, PennYanUMC.com, and on our Facebook page. Come with your family any time on Christmas Eve and spend some time of quiet reflection at our outdoor Nativity on Main Street. We invite you to leave a battery-operated candle at the manger for the Baby Jesus. At 6 p.m. we will have a brief service of Carols by Candlelight outside around the Nativity, socially-distanced and wearing masks.  All are welcome!    

St. Pauls' Lutheran Church

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church will be holding a Service of Lament and Hope on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.  There will be two services on Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.  Please refer to our website (stpaulspennyan.org) for updates and Zoom information.