Gospel Gazette: December 2022

A Child Will Lead Them: Welcoming the Advent of the next generation

In this issue:

  • Pastor David Averill reflects on what this generation can gain from watching the next one.
  • Advent Season special services, opportunities and announcements.
  • The detailed results of our 2022 Worship Surveys.
  • PLUS Studies, winter retreats and more.

Read as a digital flipbook »

MY SON DANIEL recently decided to start attending the early service with me. His motives were typical of a seven-year-old: he likes all the ceremony of being an acolyte; he likes the breakfast food at hospitality time in Sanctuary Hall; and he likes the extra attention from his Dad and from the congregation watching him light the candles. What child wouldn’t like those simple pleasures?

So, when Communion Sunday came, I could see the disappointment on his face when I told him there would be no candles to light this time. But his eyes lit up with excitement again when I asked if he wanted to serve Communion with me instead. “Great idea, Papa!” he said. 

He did indeed serve Communion at the 8am service with the enthusiasm I expected. What I did not expect was that he would want to do it again. 

It was not part of my plan, and I had no idea it was part of his plan until he walked right up to the altar at the Contemporary service, and then again at the Late Traditional service, at Communion time. 

A lot of people thought it was planned—it would have been a pretty good plan, since we were also celebrating All Saints’ Day. It was not part of my plan, but it was part of God’s plan to reveal to me and you that God is God of the Living across all generations. 

Over two thousand years ago, God the Son came into the world as a helpless babe at the mercy of human parents. It was a sign that God desires relationship and peace with His human creatures. Furthermore, it is a fulfillment of prophecy found in Isaiah 11:6:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (NIV)

The fullness of this mystery became evident to me as I watched my son approach the altar with as much delight as I had ever seen in him: “a little child will lead them.” It is the next generation that God will use to lead our church into the future. 

My prayer is that God will inspire more of our children and youth to take up the mantle and continue in that valuable, next-generational leadership. In regard to the future, this is fitting. The helpless babe of Christmas is now the Triumphant Son sitting at the right hand of the Father. As we affirm in the Nicene Creed:

He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

God’s child will lead us when Christ returns. This is the promise and expectation of Advent. Christ came once as a baby born in Bethlehem. Once again, he will come again in glory. One of my favorite Advent/ Christmas hymns that expresses this reality is “Star-Child” by Shirley Erena Murray in the hymnal supplement, “The Faith We Sing”, No. 2095. This Advent and Christmas, let us dwell on the hope and expectation of these words:

Star-Child, earth Child
go-between of God,
love-Child, Christ Child,
heaven’s lightning rod,
This year, let the day arrive
when Christmas comes
for everyone alive!

With gratitude to God and hope for Christ’s return,

Pastor David Averill

p.s.: I want to thank you for your cards and thoughtful gifts during Pastor Appreciation Month in October. You are a kind and generous congregation. That has been evident since Alesia, Amelia, Daniel, and I moved to Mount Dora to become your parsonage family nearly two years ago in December 2020.


Special Services


Sun. Dec. 11, 9am & 11am. (Two services only!) First UMC Worship Ministries proudly presents “The Little Drummer Boy.”


SERVICE #1: Sat. Dec. 24, 5:30pm. Contemporary Service with no-rehearsal nativity pageant for children. Music from the Praise Team.
SERVICE #2: Sat. Dec. 24, 7:30pm. Traditional Service with lessons and carols. Music from the Celebration Choir.


Sun. Dec. 25, 10am. (One service only!) Christmas Carols and a blessing of the toys. Come in your pajamas or best holiday bling!


Sun. Jan 1, 10am. (One service only!) Covenant renewal.


Advent Devotional by Rev. Gary Upleger

Our pastor emeritus has written a daily devotional running through Dec. 25. You may pick up a copy in the sanctuary or in the church office. A digital flipbook version is also available »

Staff Love Offering

Collecting through Sun. Dec. 11. The Staff Parish Relations Committee invites you to wish church staff (not including the pastor) a very Merry Christmas! Write “Staff Love Offering” on your envelope or select “Staff Love Offering” when giving online.

Footprints Family Christmas Caroling 

Sun. Dec. 18, 2pm. Our Footprints family ministries will carol together through Mount Dora. Families should RSVP to Janet Westlake.


Gift Card Drive: THANK YOU!

You donated 75 gift cards for a total of $2,320. Dozens of kids at the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home will have a wonderful Christmas thanks to the generosity of our congregation. 

Thrift Shoppe Special Hours

5th Avenue Thrift Shoppe will be closed the last two weeks of the year in observance of Christmas and New Year’s Day. We’ll see you all in 2023!

Poinsettia Orders

Due Mon. Dec. 5. Take home a decorative poinsettia! Fill out the enclosed form and to order a poinsettia that you can pick up after the Christmas Eve service. Cost is $8

Christmas Parade

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Mount Dora Christmas Parade and helped hand out 3,000 candy cane invitations to the crowd!

REMINDER: 2022 Contribution Deadline & 2023 Envelopes

Dear church,

As the year comes to a close, I would like to remind you of upcoming deadlines for 2022 contributions:

  • In-Person: Must be in church’s possession by 12/31/22
  • Mail: Must be postmarked no later than 12/31/22
  • Online: Must be submitted by 11:59pm on 12/31/22

Any contributions received after this date are considered by law to be 2023 contributions. Make sure your contributions count!

Speaking of 2023: the new year’s contribution envelopes are ready to take home. Members may pick theirs up in the church office. 

If you are a non-member attendee or a snowbird, we are happy to give you your own FUMC contribution envelopes at your request. Please contact the church office and be sure to leave your name, address and telephone number.

Thank you for sharing your spirit of generosity!

Kathy Tanner, Finance Secretary


Thank you to all who completed worship surveys for the Worship Planning Team this year. The Worship Planning Team feels confident the survey represents the thoughts and attitudes of our church community well. CLICK HERE to see detailed survey results and statistics »


Upcoming Winter Retreats for Barefoot + Footprints students

Grades 4 + 5: Jan 20-21
Grades 6-12: Jan 27-29.
Contact Janet for details.

United Women in Faith Circle Group Meetings

Hannah Circle: Third Thursdays, 1:30pm in the Chapel
Naomi Circle: Second Tuesdays, 10am in Sanctuary Hall

Friendship Dinners: December Meal Calendar

  • Dec. 7: Rotisserie Chicken & Mashed Potatoes 
  • Dec. 14: Beef Stew 
  • Dec. 21: No Dinner
  • Dec. 28: No Dinner
  • Jan. 4: Baked Potato & Super Salad Bar
  • Jan. 11: Taco & Nacho Bar

Price & RSVP: Adults $7, Children $5, Families $25. Includes drink, entrée, salad, and dessert. RSVP by calling the church office or filling out the Connect Card on Sunday.

Widowed Support Group

Thursday, Dec. 15, 9:30am in the Chapel. Meet to support one another in the journey of grief. If you are a widow/widower, you are welcome to be part of this ministry.

Lake Cares Mobile Distribution

Friday, Dec. 2 and Friday, Dec. 16 at the Martin Luther King Center. See our calendar for complete details. Community service hours are available to students.

Weekly Studies 

Carpenter’s Class: Sundays, 9:30am, Carpenter’s Classroom. Leading a NEW study for Advent titled “Incarnation” by Adam Hamilton. Enter through the north double doors of the Thrift Shoppe

Advent Scripture: Sundays, 11am, Friendship Hall. Currently studying NEW Advent scriptures. Snacks and coffee begin at 10:30.

Bible Explorers: Sundays, 9:30am, Chapel. Currently studying the book of 1 Peter. 

Chronological Study: Sundays, 9:30am, Sanctuary Hall. This group is studying the Bible in chronological order.