Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In just over a week, we will celebrate Christmas. Unfortunately, lore and cultural tradition have taken over to transform St. Nicholas of Myra (what is in Modern Day Turkey) into the star of the show – since as Santa Claus he purportedly brings gifts to children across the world. Spoiler Alert: Santa Claus is not real. But Saint Nicholas was.
Nicholas of Myra was a devout Christian in a time when Christianity was persecuted within the Roman empire. But following Christ’s incredible generosity (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9) he imitated that generosity. His parents died when he was young but left him an inheritance, which he used to help others. He did this before he was a bishop or a saint. When he heard of a young woman who may have to be sold into prostitution due to the abject poverty of her father, Nicholas let a sum of money in the home by tossing it through the window one night so that a dowry could be paid so the daughter could be married. Apparently, Nicholas did this for the man’s two other daughters too! You may have heard that Nicholas was at the Council of Nicea (325 AD). He was there, but he didn’t slap Arius with his sandal, though he did perhaps get into a fight or two, as his nose bone has a break in it. According to Adam English, who wrote a book about Saint Nicholas, Nicholas was known for incredible acts of generosity, civil service and even justice. For example, one story is told of Nicholas that he helped to free three individuals who were falsely accused and sentenced to prison. Following his death, Nicolas was associated with gift-giving and generosity.
So, in the 11th century, nuns would leave gifts for children signed “from Saint Nicholas”. Saint Nicholas was reintroduced into the American context through individuals of Dutch Heritage in New York, who were looking for traditions. Sint Nikolaas (the Dutch pronunciation of Saint Nicholas) was nicknamed Sinterklaas, which became Santa Clause. Through cultural adaptations, Santa Claus became a pudgy, white, bearded man who lives at the North Pole.
We can imitate the generosity of Christ by including others, by giving what we have to help others, and by welcoming those who are outside of our normal circles of influence. So, the next time you hear about Santa Claus, remember Saint Nicholas who was a Christian who cared for others, so fulfilling the law of Christ (to love one another).
Please continue to pray for the nation of Ukraine. Here is a suggested list of prayers if you are at a loss for words in how to pray: https://send.org/story/hh_pray_for_ukraine. Thank you for kneeling on behalf of the people of Ukraine and Russia, and taking a stand (or a knee in prayer) against the forces of darkness in this present age.
This Week (Dec. 16 – Dec. 22, 2022):
1. Tonight, Dec. 16, 2022, the Living Stones Friday Night Bible Study is meeting from 7:30-9:30 to study about Thankfulness. You can consider reasons you have for thankfulness in order to prepare. Join in person in Room A-216 or online via the following link:
Meeting ID: 685 376 249
Join by phone: +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
2. The Living Stones Sunday School and Grace Ambassadors Sunday School is on Dec. 18.
a. The Grace Ambassadors (Young Adults) will be meeting at 9:45 am (in-person in Room A-202)! We will be taking time to discuss the next chapter in Keller’s book “Prayer.” More info is found on the YAs Messenger Chat. For further info, contact Liu Jiang.
b. “Understanding the Old Testament” Sunday School is this Sunday at 9:45 in-person (Room A-216) and online via the following link:
Meeting ID: 491 248 585
Join by phone: +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
3. This Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, at 11:25 am, Elder Sean Lee will be preaching. Pray for him! Join us for worship at CBCGL! You can also watch the live stream if you wish.
a. Text: 1 John 4:7-16
b. Title: God is Love
c. Live stream via Youtube: https://www.cbcgl.org/live-stream/
4. Each Wednesday, for example, this coming December 21, 2022, at 7:45 pm, you are invited, encouraged, and requested to join our weekly prayer meeting. We’ll spend time praying for next year’s strategic goals as well as praying for CrossPoint Community. The link is found below in the section on prayer.
Administration / Events
1. Christmas Care activities are happening. Check out the bulletin for more information about how you can be involved in serving this Christmas season. For example, this Saturday, Dec. 17, from 10 am to 12 pm at CBCGL, you can drop off new or gently used items for donation for the Lowell Wish Project. They are especially in need toiletry items (soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, etc…).
2. CBCGL’s COVID-19 guidance has been updated. We still are following CDC guidance for travel and participation in activities following travel or exposure to a positive case. We are also tracking community spread. If we are at a high risk of community spread, we will recommend mask-wearing to church activities.
a. Please note, you are recommended, but not required to wear facemasks to church.
3. Sunday Lunch Service is back at CBCGL with $5 lunchboxes! To place an order, please use the following link: https://forms.gle/SJBrwGF4nb5w564DA Orders need to be placed by Friday at 11 pm so that the kitchen can prepare the correct amount of food. Note: The selection which states “Number of Meals” refers to the cooked food/lunch box/Chinese food option.
4. We have a missions update! This week, we have an update from Chris and Emily Cheng who serve in Japan. They are still in the period of language and cultural acquisition. Pray for rest and renewal to overcome cultural change fatigue. They also have praises! Please check the missions tab in our bulletin to read through these reports and learn how you can support our missionaries.
5. All other announcements can be found here (in our CrossPoint Community bulletin).
1. Our time in prayer shows what we think about God! Do you see your need of Him? Or are you trying to live this life without / apart from Him? Please join our Wednesday night prayer meeting (7:45 – 9:15 pm) even if you can’t participate the whole time.
Meeting ID: 758 587 937
Join by phone: +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
2. Here is our list of prayer and service requests. The service request tab is for brothers and sisters to ask for assistance or announce any give-away items. It is an attempt from CPC to reach out and take care of those in need among us. You may also enter yours via the provided link:
You can also do so via the following link: https://www.cbcgl.org/pray/
In Christ, your servant, SDG,
Rev. Dr. Nathan Willems
Associate Pastor of CrossPoint Community – A Ministry of CBCGL