Hey Five Oakers, I have a THIRTEEN things I want to share with you today. I know that's a lot but too many exciting things happening right now. Please read them all.
#1 - It was great having a weekend off from teaching so I could focus on my family for Thanksgiving and get a breather. Thanks to Tim who did a very thorough analysis of Gabriel's appearances to Zechariah and Mary. I learned and was blessed by the message.
#2 - Dan Lucas opened the services with one of the songs from the new Five Oaks Christmas CD, "Joy of Every Heart." We sold about 100 this last weekend and I bought several for my visiting family. I absolutely love the album. It greatly surpassed my expectations...and I had high expectations for it! I'm listening to it right now. I would love to hear your impressions of it. (I hear there might be a small concert featuring these songs coming up soon, but don't hold me to it.)
#3 - Speaking of the Christmas CD, morning news anchor Mike Binkley (WCCO) got permission from his producer to play portions of the CD as a bumper in and out of commercial breaks during his morning show with a link to Five Oaks on the WCCO website!
#4 - Over 400 people have registered to attend One Starry Night! Reminds me of a tradition we use to have when we were first married. We'd go to New Hampshire (we lived in MA) to a recreated village from pilgrim days that featured character actors, singers and such. I can't wait.
#5 - We're gearing up for an interesting sketch to set up the message at our Christmas Eve services. Yep, a drama. Been a long time. And it does have an interesting video element and twist. Marcie Berglund (better known as Pippen's owner, the dog in the First Things First series bumper), her daughter Erica and the programming team have been working on it.
#6 - The youth are preparing already for Challenge this summer in New Orleans. Looks like it will be the largest group ever from Five Oaks, joining about 5000 other students from around the country. We always have one of the largest groups there, thanks in part to your generosity through the yearly Silent Auction. Parents, this event is life changing and impacting. Don't let your kids miss it.
#7 - Tim Bubar met a couple at 10-Minute Connect on Saturday that explained, after the whole presentation, that they are actually looking for a much smaller church. They said it would be better for their pre-school age daughter who is autistic...yeah, they came back for The Retreat the next morning!
#8 - We were able to donate 11 bins of children's ministry materials to New Salem Church. New Salem is cross-cultural, urban EFree church in Minneapolis.
#9 - Kids Christmas Choir practice started tonight.
#10 - SEVEN services this Christmas, December 23 and 24. Christmas day is off for all volunteers and staff to get reacquainted with their families. :-)
#11 - Got this email from a Five Oaks family this week:
On Thanksgiving Day, when we were discussing all of our blessings, we asked our girls if there was any one person they would really like to thank this year. Our 12 year old Sarah jumped right on it, and said, "For me, it's Tim Bubar. I really have to thank him for making me love church and our faith." That resulted in a long conversation about how we are all thankful for our Five Oaks community. All three of our girls had lots to add to the conversation. They named their favorite Sunday school teachers, Jeni and Cindy Yarrington, and Kent and Cindy O'Grady particularly. We'd like to thank you for partnering with us in raising our family.
#12 - You've got to read this online article on one of our Five Oaks families, the Brunz's. You may recognize Caleb from playing the drums and Stephanie oversees the Nursery ministry. But they are also very active in the community and they are leveraging their influence for Christ in the marketplace.
#13 - This is the time for Christmas music. This weekend we go back to the first songs of Christmas, sung by Mary and Zechariah and known as The Magnificat and The Benedictus (named after the first words of each song in the Latin translation of the Bible). We don't have the tune, but the words are timeless and rich in meaning. I think they have the potential of deepening your joy this Christmas, whatever your circumstances.