All over our world tonight the air reverberates with centuries-old echoes of angel choirs’ celestial jubilation heralding Jesus’ arrival, directly from heaven, to rescue us from sin. In churches, concert halls, and caroling bands we joyously respond in welcome: “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” . . . “Angels From the Realms of Glory,” . . . “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” . . . “Hallelujah!” As if we’ve joined a shepherd choir, in 1625 Nach Friedrich von Spee wrote “Als ich bei meinen Schafen wacht,” “While by My Sheep I Watched,” also known as the “Echo Carol.” This happy carol may have originated in a shepherd play, perhaps with an off-stage echo. The vividness of the echo simulation is appreciated, yet the song should not be just regarded as a gimmick piece, for this sixteenth-century German folk carol is overall a very aesthetic composition. . . . If judged solely on its musical merit, it would surpass some of the first level or international class carols,” say Keyte and Parrott, editors, The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols.
Centuries before Jesus’ birth, God said to Israel, through the prophet Zephaniah: “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! For the Lord will remove His hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord Himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, ‘Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.'” (Zephaniah 3:14-17) The same injunction–“Fear not”–is spoken to everyone who encounters the near presence of the Lord, a presence gracious but nonetheless terrifying. Around the time of Jesus’ birth, the angel told both Zechariah and Mary: Fear not.
Then and now, God’s people have good reason for jubilation. God has forgiven and rescued us! But the joy is not one-sided. “God, too, sings and shouts with joy over this love restored. . . . Such joy is not subdued; it is not quiet or dignified. The Lord rejoices over His beloved, over Judah and Jerusalem, as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride (Isaiah 62:5). As David danced in front of the Ark of the Covenant, in exultation, so God rejoices over God’s people (2 Samuel 6). As the morning stars sang at the creation of the world, so God sings with elation over God’s beloved (Job 38:7) God, too, sings and shouts with joy over this love restored. The divine heart overflows with jubilation! (Kathryn M. Schifferdecker, workingpreacher.org)
This Friday night
“Almost There” – A Christmas Musical! Keene Worship Choir, directed by Juanita Goodlow Browder, will present the first performance of their not-to-be-missed Christmas concert in our Sanctuary at 7:00 this evening! Featured soloists will be: Darrell Schultz, Michael Welch, Lisa Lorena Raber, and Miranda Guadamuz. If you miss their concert tonight, you can still be thrilled when they perform at 5:30 Saturday evening!
Our Senior Pastor, James Winegardner, will preach from the gospel of Mark during our 9:00 and 11:30 Sanctuary worship services. Our Keene Worship Choir, directed by Juanita Browder, will stir your hearts with magnificent worship music, with Lerie Dellosa ministering at the organ. Hayden and Mikayla Guadamuz will present our Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Doug Peterson will tell the children’s story, and Rob Foster will offer congregational prayer. Our Pastor for Youth, Carlos Pasillas, will call for the offering, which will support Keene Church Ministries and Operations. Chad Hutchinson will serve as Deacon in Charge.
Young Adults, Pastor Michael Gibson will preach for The Middle Service in the Fellowship Hall at 10:00–a service designed especially for you! Enjoy the music, chat with friends, relish festive food, and rejoice in God’s gifts!
Keene Community Food Bank holds its second food bank today from 1:00 to 4:00 PM in the Annex parking lot! Our November Food Bank was a great blessing to our community and to our church family who came out to meet and help our neighbors. Thank you, volunteers! Let’s do it again today!
“Almost There” – A Christmas Musical! Keene Worship Choir, directed by Juanita Goodlow Browder, will present their not-to-be-missed Christmas concert in our Sanctuary at 5:30 this evening! Featured soloists will be: Darrell Schultz, Michael Welch, Lisa Lorena Raber, and Miranda Guadamuz. If you heard their concert last night, you are most welcome to join us again tonight!
Family Ministries caroling will go out tomorrow, December 16 from 5:30-7:30 PM! Come and spread Christmas cheer and hope! Meet in the Fellowship Hall for a warm and wonderful two hours loving your neighbors.
Wednesday night Bible Study – Be with us in our Chapel at 7:00 on Wednesday evenings as James Winegardner uncovers Revelation’s treasures! You’ll marvel at God’s gracious confidence in us as He tells us what to expect while we anticipate His return.
Finance Committee: Thursday, December 20, 7:00 PM.
Retirees Fellowship will be held on December 20 at 5:00 PM in the Annex. The meal will be a potluck. Henry and Bunny Reid will provide the entertainment.
Warmth for our homeless friends! We are collecting new or fairly new winter jackets, gloves, hats, socks, and sleeping bags for our homeless ministry December drive. Please drop off your gifts at the church office!
We’d like to provide group meals with Meals on Wheels once a week at the Annex. They have vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. We need at least 20 individuals to start. Applications are at the church office.
Year-end church office schedule: We will be open Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 26-28; and Wednesday through Friday, January 2-4.
Bulletin announcement deadlines: Kindly submit your bulletin information for December 29 by Thursday, December 20. Thanks!
Do you have year-end giving questions? Our Treasurer can help you. When the office is closed (December 26, 27, 28, 31, and January 1), feel free to call Jose Aparicio at 682-702-4260. Thank you for your generous financial support in 2018. May God continue to bless you in 2019!
Steve Green brings a concert to our Sanctuary on January 19, 7:00 PM! The son of missionaries to South America, Steve gave his life to Jesus at age eight. “However,” he says, “that was just the beginning of a grace-filled journey.” Celebrating 34 years in the Christian music industry, this award-winning vocalist will encourage your heart. Free admission; love offering.
Coming in January: Bible by Design! Pastor James Winegardner will lead this exciting Bible study class twice monthly, on the second and fourth Sabbath afternoon, from 2:30 to 3:30 in Gathering Place Room 106.
Southwestern Adventist University
- The Campus Food pantry (providing food for needy students) needs food donations such as pasta, rice, dried beans, and canned goods like soup, vegetables, and fruit, dropped off at the Records office. Contact Judy Miles, email@example.com
Keene Adventist Elementary School
- Bands and Marimbas Christmas Concert – Sunday, Dec. 16, 3:00 PM, KAES Gym.
Art for Awareness – Art created by student artists from Burton Academy, Chisholm Trail Academy, and Southwestern Adventist University will be for sale! Half the proceeds go to local families in need and half to the student. This afternoon at Arlington Church through Sabbath evening.
A “Celebration of Life” for Carol Bradley, Steve Bradley’s mother, will be held at Burleson Church Sunday, December 23, from 2:00-4:00 PM.
This year’s Christmas tree offering will support our air conditioning project. Find the red gift envelope in your pew or at the welcome desk! Look for the three asterisks in your bulletin program to know when to go forward to put your gift on the tree! Thank you for your generous commitment to maintaining God’s house.
A female member of our Forever Family needs a temporary room in which to stay for approximately one month while moving her mom and settling a nephew into Chisholm Trail Estates. If you can help, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 931-691-8769. Thank you!
“God is moved, is deeply affected, by human attitudes and actions. This God does not watch from a distance, but enters into the life of the world. This God enters even into human flesh, in the mystery and wonder of the Incarnation.
“This Sabbath, we speak of joy, the joy of a people redeemed and restored, but also the joy of a God who is deeply invested in the life of the world. God sings! God shouts! God rejoices! And we, we who are wondrously and inexplicably God’s beloved, join in the celebration.” (ibid)
We pray for your joy, reconciliation, and peace as you echo God’s jubilation to others, Forever Family!
Your Keene Church Pastors
While by our sheep we watched at night,
Glad tidings brought an angel bright.
How great our joy! (Great our joy!)
Joy, joy, joy! (Joy, joy, joy!)
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
(Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!)
There shall be born, so he did say,
In Bethlehem a Child today.
There shall the Child lie in a stall,
This Child who shall redeem us all.
This gift of God we’ll cherish well,
That ever joy our hearts shall fill.
Traditional German melody,
arranged by Hugo Jung