Sunday, December 27, 2009


Fourth Sunday Lunch & Worship @ Tinney Chapel

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Jesus' Rebellious Tweens

Pastor Sue Gross took a portion of Luke's Gospel account, Chapter 2, verses 41-52, and focused on the 12-year-old Jesus who lingered after Passover in Jerusalem at the Jewish Temple, astonishing the doctors and scholars with his understanding and his answers--all without the knowledge of Mary and Joseph, who had feared that Jesus was lost in the city.

Jesus, on the other hand, took the position that they should have known where to find him: About his father's business.

Remember: Jesus was just 12 years old at the time.

Kids this age tend to rebel, suggested Pastor Gross, who further suggested that such behavior often means that youth are simply trying to define themselves. In the case of Jesus, Pastor Sue noted that he was also growing into his ministry.

The Pastor said she doesn't think that Jesus was absent-minded in his failure to tell his folks where to find him. Rather, it was intentional, she believes, perhaps a tad rebellious in the sense that Jesus was, after all, both divine and human, and in this case he was behaving in a very human manner consistent with his age.

Jesus actually threw all accusations back, making it clear that he considered Mary and Joseph in the wrong for not realizing, intuitively, where to find him.

Bottom line: Jesus didn't think his folks understood him!

And this, being misunderstood, said Pastor Sue, was a mindset that would follow Jesus throughout his entire ministry. The religious leaders of that day, especially, failed to "get" Jesus, failed to understand what he was about.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves today if we are also misunderstanding Jesus, suggested the Pastor. Sure, we live in a different time and a different culture, but some things never change.

Knowing that even Jesus was often misunderstood might actually help us feel connected with Jesus. In other words, he's been there, done that, and knows how we feel. Perhaps this can help all of us come to Jesus in a spirit of true humility, a spirit that we can cultivate through the disciplined reading of Scripture, and perhaps this will help us to live out our faith and our walk, even finding new ways to do that.

But, in the final analysis, Jesus calls on us to truly understand him, and in the meantime he won't ignore us, he won't go away. Rather, he longs for us to understand him in our own way. Are we ready to do that?

Jesus is ready, and waiting!


Friday, December 25, 2009


Christmas Dinner was FREE at Tinney Chapel UMC, Dec. 25, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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Please come to Tinney Chapel for Christmas Dinner

If you are alone on this Christmas Day, December 25, 2009, perhaps your family is out of town, or for whatever reason, you have nowhere else to go for a home-cooked meal and old-time friendly fellowship, please drive two miles south of Winnsboro on FM 312, then turn east on County Road 4620 for one-fourth mile, to Tinney Chapel—the quintessential country church, twice voted best in rural ministry by the North Texas Methodist Conference.

There, at 449 CR 4620, from 2 pm to 4 pm, expect a full-course meal from the ladies of Tinney Chapel, followed by the kind of coffee and conversation that reminds us all of flaming fireplaces, red-nosed reindeer, lamps in windows, hosannas in the highest, memories in a manger scene and ultimately the Reason for the Season.

For most of us, Christmas is one of the two most memorable meals of the year, ranking right up there with Thanksgiving turkey and crimson cranberries.

My Grandma Tinney, who helped raise me after I was orphaned at a young age, was no society type hostess, but she loved people, and always expected both family and friends to fill her rambling farmhouse for each year’s Big Dinner on Christmas Day. No invitation required: Just show up for the open latch, the larder, the ladle, the lamb and, of course, the love!

My Grandma Tinney introduced me to Tinney Chapel as an infant, and if she were still alive, and could be with us these days, she’d still want a crowd: our church’s 8,000-sq. ft. family life center would strain at the seams! I’d be grateful if all of you could have known her and the richness of having “company all over”—people drawn together by a single warm personality.

The next best thing might be today’s Tinney Chapel Folks, all of whom are steeped in the same rural roots and agrarian appreciation that made Grandma Tinney so special. Visitors to our church always say they have never been made to feel more at home than here at this 109-year-old monument to frontier Texas hospitality.

Please remember to be our guest on Christmas Day, December 25, for an unforgettable experience--and absolutely free!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service 12-24-09

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Perceiving the presence of God at Tinney Chapel

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“Alone,” (c) Copyright by Angela Newton Wylie, a poem written & delivered especially for this event

When the world is closing in
And I am not certain even who I am
What I am
Where I am going
Pulled here and pushed there
Not belonging anywhere

Is the place to be
Outside in the open
Walking eyes shut and face lifted into the gentle wind
Whirling around in circles like the thoughts in my head
Arms outstretched to snatch dreams from the air
And breathing in the moment of sheer, exhilarating

Out beneath the achingly breathless blue of the sky
Watched only by the sentinel trees,
Sharing whispers and stories or imaginary worlds
With the grass and the lush weeds that trail though my fingers
As I ponder time and life and self and seek my soul,
Finding the quiet path to the way
To reach the Eternal

I am not a stranger in the breeze-swept pasture
I am a friend that I can trust
I am comfortable within myself, confident for a moment
Away from the world and its strife and trials.
Alone with nature and alone with God
I can be true to who I am
I can find who I am
A child of God

I walk the dusty cow paths
Alone I climb up the steep leaf-strewn bank
And watch the water flow, rippling and thrilling
Over small waterfalls, flowing like my thoughts
And my dreams, away into the some other world
Washing away my worries and my fears
I can find myself here in the quiet of Nature

I am older, my childhood not so long ago
Old enough to work, I steer a tractor
Through sun-drenched fields
The drone of the engine shuts our all other sound
And I have only my thoughts for companionship
Older, I have more things to escape from
Responsibilities, the future, these can all wait -
While I am within my seal of contentment

Sun-heated, soured rank cow manure sticks to my tires
Resin weeds give up their cloying pungent odor,
Crushed beneath the shredder blades
My skin is damp with sweat and covered with dust
And the powdery itch of goat-weed dust cloaks me like fine mist
My body is fatigued, but not my mind
I am never bored, I am mentally refreshed
When out in the field.

I know what Elijah discovered
Hiding in his cave
“Be still and know that I am God”,
The voice came in the quietness.
Away from the world I can be still.
In my mind I can listen
For the voice of the Creator
That in His infinite wisdom, created
A place to be alone.

I can find that I am really never truly alone
I can feel a connection to the world
To the ground dusty and pungent beneath my feet
To the sky and the clouds that drift, swept on unfelt wind
I am a child of God and I am surrounded by His glory,
I am filled to overflowing with his blessings,
And comforted by His

Two Lay Speakers at Tinney Chapel Advent Service Tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 6 p.m.

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Perceiving The Presence of God at Tinney Chapel Tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 6:00 pm

At the Wednesday evening Advent Service, 6:00 p.m., December 23, Pastor Sue Gross will introduce Angela Wylie and Joe Dan Boyd, both Certified UMC Lay Speakers.

Angela, a prize-winning poet, will perform a reading of an original poem, "Alone," written especially for this event. Joe Dan will perform special music, "Something Got Hold of Me," selected especially for this event although not an original composition.

Both the poem and the song are scheduled to set a mood for Joe Dan's Advent Sermon, "Perceiving The Presence Of God."

Congregational songs selected for this service, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" and "Blessed Assurance," are also intended to emphasize the sermon title and that which all of us seek, the Presence of God.

Pastor Sue will give the benediction to conclude this service.

Merry Christmas From Tinney Chapel UMC Communications

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Christmas is, indeed, a state of mind, a mataphysical mix of memories from the past and hope for the future.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Christmas Week at Tinney Chapel

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Three Days of Christmas at Tinney Chapel This Week

At the Wednesday evening Advent Service, 6:00 p.m., December 23, Pastor Sue Gross will introduce Angela Wylie and Joe Dan Boyd, both Certified UMC Lay Speakers. Angela, a prize-winning poet, will perform a reading of an original poem, "Alone," written especially for this event. Joe Dan will perform special music, "Something Got Hold of Me," selected especially for this event although not an original composition.

Both the poem and the song are scheduled to set a mood for Joe Dan's Advent Sermon, "Perceiving The Presence Of God."

Congregational songs selected for this service are also intended to emphasize the sermon title: "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" and "Blessed Assurance."

Pastor Sue will give the benediction to conclude the service.

Thursday evening's Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, at 6 pm, continues a long-standing tradition at Tinney Chapel and the North Texas Conference, including the lighting of the Christ Candle to culminate the Advent Candle series of the past several weeks.

As "Silent Night" is sung and lights are dimmed, the Pastor will light a separate candle from the Christ Candle, and then the Pastor will light the candles of the candlelighters gathered at the altar who will then light the candles of the first worshipers at each pew in the sanctuary.

Jesus said: "I am the Light of the World, Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life."

Friday's open invitation to a Free Christmas Dinner, between 2 pm and 4 pm on December 25, is the second year that Tinney Chapel has hosted this unique event, which is further described in the Winnsboro Online Guide at:

If you are alone on this Christmas Day, if your family is out of town, or if for any reason you have no place to go, please join us, between 2 pm and 4 pm, at the Tinney Chapel UMC spacious, 8,000-sq. ft. Family Life Center, two miles south of Winnsboro, just off FM 312 at 449 County Road 4620.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


A Christmas Cantata at Tinney Chapel

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Arise Shine! Your Light Has Come.

Today's Advent Service featured lighting of the Advent Candle of Love, a messianic prophecy sermon and a Christmas Cantata titled "Arise Shine! Your Light Has Come," the latter by the Tinney Chapel quintessential choir, directed by Nan Newton Williams.

The Cantata, based in part on Isaiah 60:1, tells the Nativity story through the eyes of fictitious Bible characters who are lampmakers in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth. Bottom line: All those who saw Him, and believed, were seeking Him, searching for Him.

Among the songs: "Arise, Shine," "Emmanuel," "Run With Torches," "Little Lamb," "What Child Is This," "O Holy Night!" and "Light Of The World, concluding with a carol medley.

Molly Mathis played the piano, assisted by Gailya Gearner, and Cheryl Ann Newton narrated the Cantata.

The Advent Candle of Love was lighted by Roger & Sharon Schneider, including Scripture and a reading by Roger.

Pastor Sue Gross chose the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) text of Micah 5:1-5a as the text for this week's sermon, which she titled "Joy To The World: O Little Town Of Bethlehem."

This Scripture, said Pastor Sue, prophesied the Messiah's birthplace, Bethlehem, 750 years before the actual event of Jesus' birth: "The Creator of man was to become man," added the Pastor. "The Messiah was not only to be divine, but also to be human.
As a man, Jesus wept at Lazarus' tomb, but as God, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

"As a man, Jesus died on the Cross, but as God Jesus rose from the dead.

"As a man, Jesus was thirsty, but as God Jesus walked on water."

Bethlehem was, in this sermon, characterized as a city of mystery, a city named both for bread and for fruitfulness, conditions not unrelated to New Testament descriptions of Jesus as the Bread of Life and the True Vine.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Certified Lay Speaker Angela Wylie in the Tinney Chapel Advent Pulpit

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New Beginnings In Christ: A New Day Is Coming

That was the title in the bulletin for Angela Wylie's Advent sermon on this Wednesday evening at Tinney Chapel, but the message she delivered was a commentary on the art or task of "waiting" in our lives, something that all of us have to deal with.

Angela, a gifted Certified Lay Speaker, began with an emphasis on how little most of us enjoy waiting. Oh sure, when the waiting is for the birth of a new baby, it can be a joyous period. But, for most of us, waiting has a more negative association: standing in line or meeting a deadline and the like.

She recalled several personal events in her own life when waiting represented great trials, possibly severe tests, as she grew impatient with the development of her career and other important milestones. Angela's mother, Wanda Hardin, proved to be a mainstay in helping her to control impatience and resist fatigue during such times. Perhaps it was Wanda's way of reflecting Christ to her family and friends.

Angela also discussed examples of waiting in the Bible, waiting for deliverance, waiting for a Messiah, and she quoted from Psalm 4. She said that she learned long ago that the best way to wait was to pray at the same time, and she recommended a book titled "God Is In The Hard Stuff."

One of the best ways to pray effectively, she said, is never to forget that God loves us, and that a season of waiting is often the norm for most events. She mentioned the fifth Chapter of the Gospel of John, and reminded that all of us are to be patient as we await the Lord's return.

Further, the question is not IF we will wait. Rather the fact is that all of us WILL have to wait, often when it is not convenient or pleasant for us. A good mindset is to keep telling ourselves that today might be the day God will turn everything around for us.

One thing is always certain: God often seems to do the unexpected. Here, Angela mentioned the sixth Chapter of the Gospel of John. She reminded us that this is the Season of Advent, a time to rejoice because the Holy Spirit is guiding us, the Father is with us and Jesus gives us reason to have Hope. Bottom line: God is always with us.

We may not live to see all of our prayers answered, but we can take comfort that God sent the Light of the World to us in the person of Jesus The Christ. So it's easier for us to find our way.


Advent Service Wednesday evening with Lay Speaker Angela Wylie in the pulpit

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Certified Lay Speaker Angela Wylie brings tonight's Advent Message at Tinney Chapel

When: 6:00 pm
Where: Tinney Chapel UMC Sanctuary

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Christmas at Tinney Chapel with the Southern Plainsmen Quartet

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Sweet Tea and Southern Plainsmen Quartet at Tinney Chapel Christmas Party

As soon as the Southern Plainsmen Quartet, Marcelle Slaughter, Jordan Mothershed, Allen Doyle, Mike Burkhalter and occasionally Aaron Allen, began to sing "Good Morning, Jesus," the congregation knew it was in good hands on this chilly night at the quintessential country church.

As the lyrics began to unfold, "it's going to be a wonderful day," Tinney Chapel was in the thrall of this enthusiastic example of Southern sacred group harmony. Many in this congregation likely thought of John Wesley, Methodism's founder, when the Plainsmen begin to sing "It Is Well With My Soul," and certainly everyone was clapping in time to the Plainsmen version of "Working On A Building."

Marcelle Slaughter, a veteran of 31 years with this group, and the only remaining member of the original aggregation, is the Plainsmen's first tenor, or as they used to say in the old days of gospel quartets, the "high tenor," reminiscent of the sound once championed by "Sister" Loy Hooker, a much earlier exponent. In a post concert conversation, Slaughter said he remembered Hooker, but added: "That was a LONG time ago!"

Another favorite of this night was "Consider The Lillies," a song inspired by the teachings of Jesus The Christ in the Gospel of Matthew.

Following this came a musical tribute to military veterans in the congregation, as well as a salute to the freedoms that all Americans enjoy: "God Bless The USA," "America The Beautiful," "God Bless America," and--bringing this congregation to its feet--"The Star-Spangled Banner."

After doing "Sweet Beulah Land," Slaughter told the congregation how to follow the Plainsmen on the Internet:

As the evening drew to a close, the Plainsmen sang a Christmas medley, including "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Silent Night," "Away In A Manger," and "Joy To The World."

As if saving the best for last, the final songs were truly memorable: "Meet Us At The Table Of The King Someday," "The Devil And His Old Suitcase," "Faces," and "Oh, What A Savior He Is."

After an altar call and prayer, the group concluded the concert with a standout version of "Amazing Grace," and Slaughter said they would like to come back to Tinney Chapel again next Christmas.

Pastor Sue says the Plainsmen will return for another Christmas performance at Tinney Chapel on Saturday evening, Dec. 11, 2010. Put it on your calendar!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Blazing A Path To Christ at Tinney Chapel Advent Service

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Blazing A Path To Christ
An Advent sermon by Rev. Sue Gross

The Pastor provided a brief lesson in the history of famous trailblazers, including such examples as Columbus, Copernicus, Ptolemy, Lewis and Clark and Christiaan Barnard, but with major emphasis on John The Baptizer, chronicled in the New Testament as preparing the Way of the Lord as prophesied by Isaiah.

We are asked to do the same, emphasized the Pastor: To proclaim the Good News of Jesus, who brings joy, peace and, above all, salvation.

John performed baptism by water, but told of The One who would baptize by the Holy Spirit. John was also a great prophet, added Pastor Gross, by bringing a message that was both timely and timeless, requiring immediate action. John was actually the final prophet, explained the Pastor, but he knew his place: He was not the Messiah, but he proclaimed His coming--just as we are to do today.

We still have pioneers, trailblazers, said Pastor Gross, naming some who blaze trails in the fight against Alzheimers: Nancy Reagan, Frankie Brewer and the Pastor's own mother, Nyla Gross.

The number-one comfort I take, said the Pastor, is that the Bible promises that God will recognize us and welcome us home.

Pastor Gross concluded with a discussion about the power of words, both to do good and to do harm--by hurting others. Actions may speak louder, but never underestimate the power of words.

Our lives will be the only Bibles that some people ever read!


Sunday, December 06, 2009


The Sounds Of Christmas

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The Sounds of Christmas

Shannon Monk’s meteoric rise to a sure-fire sell-out ticket anywhere in Winnsboro may owe as much to her True Blue back-up band as it does to the effortless emotional tone of her torch singer delivery style or her interactive rapport with an appreciative audience.

Tonight, Dec. 6, 2009, at Winnsboro Center for the Arts, even Shannon’s narrative reading of Clement Moore’s poem, Twas The Night Before Christmas, rang with the rhythm of practiced nuance, embellished by unexpected musical sound effects: subtle riffs from George Gagliardi’s Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar, perky percussion from Rick Murray’s twin congas and mellow magic from Ben Scarborough’s electric upright bass.

“It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas,” was the pre-concert hype for tonight’s venture into the songs of this Sacred Season, an effort that might be compared with the emotional risk of asking someone for a first date or proposing marriage when the answer is not known in advance.

Within the first few minutes of the concert, however, Shannon introduced and praised the True Blue trio of musicians—Gagliardi, Murray and Scarborough--which involved Gagliardi often switching from guitar to piano, serving as a narrator for the event, and having previously worked out all the arrangements for the concert and even composed at least one of the songs.

Shannon set a challenging pace from the start when a Christmas medley showcased her mahogany voice to great effect, especially on Winter Wonderland: “Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is the new bird,” lyrics that reflect New Deal sentiment from an earlier economic downturn. The “new bird” phrase actually refers to the blue eagle of the National Recovery Administration, one of FDR’s early efforts to ease the 1930s-era Great Depression. More than a few hard-hit people of today’s hard times would likely empathize with that song’s long-lost suggestion of economic optimism.

Decked out in a stunning black sheath dress of cotton and silk blend, with muted red trim, custom-made for her by super-seamstress Bonny Ramsey, Shannon called attention to the Winnsboro Center for the Arts gift shop, which will remain open for business through the Christmas season, before one of her highlight renditions of the concert, Do You Hear What I Hear, introduced first by just the stark sounds of Murray’s twin congas and Scarborough’s slightly muted bass until later joined by Gagliardi’s patented full-sound stroking of the strings on his 1980s vintage Gretsch Country Gentleman.

Shannon’s final lyrical line, repeated several times in Do You Hear What I Hear, left no one in doubt about the reason for the Season: “He will bring us Goodness and Light.” (A pin might have dropped at this point, but no one heard it.)

She followed up that vocal rendition with Let It Snow, a song that is perhaps a tad less mystical, but nevertheless open to multiple interpretations, “as long as you love me so, let it snow,” a sentiment that reminds us, with Mary Ellen Chase, that Christmas is much more than just a date: It is a state of mind! On this song, Gagliardi’s piano provides the perfect emphasis.

Tonight’s program promises that Shannon will be accompanied not only by True Blue band, but also by some of her Friends, and at this point, she introduced Harold Shelton to sing Silver Bells, with some harmony help from Shannon on the chorus.

A piano instrumental version of What Child Is This, by Gagliardi, expertly accompanied by Scarborough, featured his upright bass, topped with a red and white Santa hat, matching both Gagliardi’s Christmas-red jacket and Scarborough’s scarlet vest and multicolored Christmas tie. It was so successful that Gagliardi followed it with another piano instrumental, O Christmas Tree.

No Christmas concert would be considered complete without a medley of songs about Santa, which Shannon delivered in spades, including Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, just before a break for stretching and refreshments.

Gagliardi’s Gretsch kicked off the second set with an extremely jazzy, improvised version of Blue Christmas, made so famous in our time by Elvis Presley that many churches now offer Blue Christmas services for anyone grieving over some measure of loss or disappointment during this normally most joyous Season of the year.

Another selection by Harold Shelton’s rich, mellow baritone, The Christmas Song, painted a vocal canvas of traditional chestnuts roasting over open fires. Gagliardi sang Count Your Blessings to his own piano accompaniment and his original composition, Upon A Winter’s Night, a song he wrote to express old English sentiment in modern terms. The Ramsey Sisters sang the semi-serious song by Irving Berlin, Sisters: “Heaven help the mister who comes between me and my sisters, and Heaven help the sister who comes between me and my man.”

White Christmas, probably expected at any concert that calls itself a Christmas event, included two of the Ramsey Sisters with Shannon, who asked the capacity crowd to join in on this now-classic song by Irving Berlin, and this concert itself happily coincides closely with a national TV reprise of the movie of the same name.

A moving highlight of the evening came with Rick Murray and his 9-year-old son, Brennan, recreating a long-ago time in their lives when the father sang Christmas songs to his son. It concludes with hugs and their version of Away In A Manger. Rick also reads part of the Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament. It’s a segment to remember.

While True Blue is a band of extraordinary talent, and all the Friends on this night’s program are worthy of their billing, this crowd came to hear and see Shannon Monk in concert. During the first set, she sang mostly from a chair, with her music on a stand in front of her. But, in the second set, Shannon is mostly on her feet and is noticeably more animated. She has this crowd in the palm of her hand, and it’s begging for more.

But, we are nearly two hours into the evening, and Shannon concludes the program by asking her audience to join in on several well-known Christmas songs: Angels We Have Heard On High, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy To The World and Silent Night.

On Silent Night, with the stage still dark, candles begin to appear in the hands of the evening’s performers and are blown out at the end of the song.

House lights brighten the room, breaking the spell for this full house of fans of Shannon Monk, who graciously accepts their rave reviews, but reserves her own praise for the True Blue band and Winnsboro Center for the Arts.

It’s a shame this concert was not filmed for DVD release, but there’s always next year!

“Remembrance, like a candle, shines brightest at Christmastime.”-—Charles Dickens

Tinney Chapel Advent Candle of Peace Lighted Today

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Joy To The World: This Little Light Of Mine

On this second Sunday of Advent, Pastor Sue Gross used two well-known songs to title her sermon: Joy to the world: This little light of mine.

It was an effective demonstration to define Jesus The Christ as the True Light of the World, especially after the Pastor's use of a flashlight and mirror during Kids Time to do the same thing by reflecting light.

John The Baptizer was not the Light, but merely reflected the Light, explained the Pastor, whose primary Scripture was John 1:6-8 and John 1:19-28. Not everyone realizes that the lights on our Christmas trees are metaphorical reflections of this same Light of the World.

If we stray into the Darkness, we can still be saved by the Light!

In John's day, the world was in darkness, said Pastor Gross. But John the Baptizer welcomed the Light and bore witness to the Light in the person of Jesus The Christ.

The Pastor illustrated today's message with a story, from Lucy Swindoll, about people who were suddenly stranded in the darkness of an elevator without electrical power. For a while, panic ruled, but someone had a flashlight, and once turned on, all fear dissipated. It was the power of a simple light in a temporary darkness.

Jesus came just when we needed him most, explained Pastor Gross. He came to bring Light and the darkness has not overcome it, even in time of war, pestilence, drouth, during good times and bad times. Our greatest privilege is to share His Light. We are to take the Light of the World and pass it on!

John The Baptizer proclaimed the Light: Let it shine, let it shine.

That's our job: To let it shine through us!


Saturday, December 05, 2009


Harold Ford Reaches The Big Eight-Oh

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009


First Wednesday of Advent at Tinney Chapel 12-02-09

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Don't Fear The Wait (for Jesus)

Waiting for the return, the Second Coming, of Jesus The Christ can be a stressful time, even one that evokes fear, said Rev. Sue Gross, Pastor of Tinney Chapel UMC, on this First Wednesday (12-02-09) of Advent Communion Worship Service.

Scripture helps us understand why this might be so, explained the Pastor, who cited the words of Jesus, from Mark's Gospel: "The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. And the stars of Heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in Heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."

After all, this is talk of End Times! Not exactly everyone's idea of a favorite bedtime story for the kids?

But, added Pastor Gross: "God can be trusted to be there with love, welcome and open arms at the end of our journey."

Among the cautionary warnings, however, said Pastor Gross: "We are to keep awake, and not just wait, but also be vigilant...while waiting in Hope, as indicated by Sunday's Advent Candle."

This is the event that all True Christians have awaited their whole lives. It's our ticket back home to God. We should be confident if our preparation has been sound, and we must not stray.

"Our relationship with God should be the first thing on our minds in the morning and the last thing on our minds when we go to sleep at night," emphasized Pastor Gross. Our goal should be to help ourselves and others to live lives of love and peace, pleasing to God. A good way to keep this goal in mind might be to remember the words of the famous hymn, "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love."

While none of us particularly like the unknown, we are to wait patiently for God, who is always patient with us, in keeping our eyes on the ultimate goal. If we have helped our neighbor, God will greet us with a word of encouragement on that day.


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