ON SALVATION — Reading for my sermon, I found an excellent summary of the biblical understanding of salvation by Justo L. González. Here it is:
The meaning of the word “salvation,” both in the New Testament and in the common usage of the time, is much fuller than we often imagine. Salvation means healing, liberation, freedom from the bondage of sin, promise of eternal life, and several nuances of each of these themes. Thus to say that Jesus is “Savior” means that he frees the people from all evil, including sin, eternal death, disease, oppression, and exploitation. If we do not see all of this as yet, it is because the work of Jesus has not been completed—the reign of God has not yet come to its full fruition. 
That last sentence is important. It names where we are in the story.
 Justo L. González, Luke (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 36.
Happy New Year! I pray 2021 will be an improvement over 2020. But I know that while God sometimes acts alone, more often than not, God sticks to the original plan and chooses to work through or with us, the human beings made in God’s image. I think whether or not 2021 is better than 2020 will depend on what use we make of God’s grace. As Augustine of Hippo reportedly said, “He that made us without ourselves, will not save us without ourselves.” We can’t do it by ourselves, but it is unlikely that God will do it without us. Let’s get to work.
On the third day of Christmas, your pastor’s sharing with you … a virtual christmas choir. The video below was put together by the Discipleship Ministries division of the United Methodist Church. Enjoy!
I did not sleep well last night and instead spent a lot of time thinking about Dr. Brian Holmes and how poorly he’s been treated for his attempts to do the job he was hired to do during this difficult time. I’m sure there are times when he, more than anyone else, wishes he wasn’t the Dickinson County Health Officer. (That may be projection, there are times when, more than anyone else, I wish I wasn’t the one who had to make difficult decisions for the church.)
I woke up exhausted this morning and wrote a cranky, somewhat belligerent post in his defense. I’ve scrapped that post. Instead, I’m going to let actions speak louder than words and simply point out that whenever it has been up to me, I have tried and will continue to try to follow his advice on matters of public health regardless of whether or not that advice is enforceable by law. The preacher in me would encourage you to do the same.
In order for your giving to be credited to your statement for 2020, the church must receive your check in the church office by Monday, December 28, 2020. If you are mailing in a check, please send it as soon as possible for it to be delivered in time. Thank you and Happy New Year!
From 8 a.m. to 12 noon on Christmas Eve (December 24, 2020), the sanctuary will be open for prayer. You’ll need to come to the entryway marked “office” on the east side of the building and ring the doorbell on the glass door.
If you’re having trouble streaming our worship videos, you may want to simply download the entire video to your device and then play it. You can do so with this link. You can download a bulletin at abilenefirstumc.org/bulletin/.
The video above, from Saturday, December 19, 2020, follows the same order of worship that the Sunday, December 20, 2020 service will use. You can view (and download) this video and previous worship services on our Vimeo page at vimeo.com/abilenefirstumc.