The Witness

Volume 40, Issue 51

December 21, 2022

Good News of Great Joy

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit (Psalm 51:10-12).”

This time of year, it is easy to get bogged down with all of the gatherings to attend, goodies to bake, cards to write, and last-minute gifts to buy. The joy of the Christmas season can give way to stress and exhaustion. In the above Psalm, David makes it clear that salvation is meant to fill our lives with joy. And yet, as he experienced after his unfaithful encounter with Bathsheba, it can be easy for the worries, fears, failures, and pain of this life to extinguish our joy. The reality of salvation may remain within us, but the joy that reality is intended to create can get buried under mounds of suffering and sorrow, which for David, was the failure of his own sin and betrayal. Though our reasons may be different, we all know what it is like when the “joy of our salvation” seems faint. Like clouds blocking the light and warmth of the sun from reaching us on overcast days, the trials and tribulations of life can also prevent the light and warmth of Christ’s joy from reaching us on difficult days.

And yet, while “watching their flocks by night,” the shepherds were told: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy for all people. Today, in the City of David, a savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord (Luke 2:10-11).” The good news, of course, was the birth of a savior—one who would bring about salvation to their lives and world. According to the angel, the natural response to this good news was one of “great joy.” Despite the struggles these shepherds faced as nomads without a home with very little resources, the angel promised great joy. Despite the threats of Herod and the persecution of the Roman Empire, they were promised great joy. Despite being looked down upon and misunderstood by the educated and wealthy of their world, God called them to be the first to receive the “good news of great joy for all people”—salvation through the birth of Immanuel, the Messiah.

On Sunday, our baptistry was full of the “joy of salvation” as five young boys were baptized. They were loud and rowdy, excited and energetic, eager and ready to enter those waters and stand before their church. They were not worried about the gifts they needed to buy, the food they needed to prepare, the gatherings they needed to attend, the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that was less than one week away. They were simply “filled with the joy of salvation” and it was contagious. The longer all of us adults remained with them, the more joyful we became. And though Whitney and I held it together fairly well while standing in those waters with Carter, it was the excitement in his eyes and joy on his face as I lowered him into the water that brought tears to my eyes. Like clouds being pushed away and the light and warmth of the sun breaking through, Carter’s joy restored the joy of my salvation in a way that could only be expressed through tears of joy.

This week, as we move closer to the manger, may we be reminded that the good news of Jesus is meant to create great joy for all people because it is the fulfillment of God’s promised salvation. Despite the challenges we may be facing, or the pain and suffering we may have to endure, remembering the birth of Christ on Christmas is intended to “restore the joy of [our] salvation.” It is still “good news of great joy for all people.” I hope you will join us for worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as we celebrate that good news, and through the gift of Immanuel experienced through our worship and fellowship together, restore the joy of our salvation.

-- Travis 

This Saturday, December 24th:

Christmas Eve

We hope you will worship with us at 5:00 PM on Christmas Eve. We will sing carols, there will be a children's message, and we will observe communion. Travis' message is "Welcome Home," and the scripture is Isaiah 35:1-10. Christina, Dock, Easton, & Harper Epperly will share our New Testament reading. Please note that nursery will be provided Christmas Eve.

This Sunday, December 25th: Christmas Day

Please join us Christmas morning for worship at 10:30 AM. There will be no Sunday School. Travis' message is "Welcome Christmas," and the scripture is Isaiah 52:7-10. Nick, Heather, Cameron, Cannon, & Dash Jones are scheduled to share our New Testament reading. A note for parents of younger children: on Christmas Day, nursery will be provided and Children's Worship class will be available for ages 4 - 1st grade. Children are encouraged to bring a toy or gift from their Christmas morning. We will enjoy time in fellowship celebrating the birth of Jesus!

If you cannot join us in person, tune in through our website or Facebook group page.

New Year's Day

On January 1st, we will have Sunday School at 9:15 AM and One Combined Morning Worship Service at 10:30 AM.

Effective January 8th, we will return to our usual Sunday morning schedule (Contemporary Worship at 8:45 AM, Sunday School at 9:50 AM, and Traditional Worship at 11:00 AM).

Wednesday Nights

There are no Wednesday night activities tonight. We will resume Wednesday dinners, Children's Choirs, and Youth Missions Group on January 11th. Please note that adult choirs WILL rehearse at their usual times Wednesday, January 4th.

Wednesday Women

Wednesday Women will resume January 11th, led by Susan Jones. We will study Jesus & Women by Kristi McLelland, and we plan to meet in the Disciple Center. Please secure your own book if possible. If you cannot do so, please let the church office know by January 4th and we will order one for you for $25. Either way, we ask that you sign up with the church office - by calling 540-343-7685 or by filling out the sign-up sheet on the office counter - so that we can get an accurate head count. We're looking forward to this study!

Church Office Schedule & Donations Deadline

The church office will be closed Monday and Tuesday, December 26th and 27th, as well as Monday, January 2nd. Otherwise, we plan to be open 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM each weekday, weather permitting.

The final day to submit monetary donations and have them counted for the 2022 calendar year is Thursday, December 29th at 5:00 PM. All monies received after that date/time will be recorded as 2023 donations.

Fred & Jean Swisher

422 Chestnut Mountain Drive

Vinton VA 24179

December 18, 2022:

  • 10:30 AM Worship
  • In Person - 385
  • Online - 426
  • Sunday School: 179

Congratulations to Kevin & Ashley Seymore Williams in the birth of Leighton Sawyer Williams December 19th, weighing 7 lbs., 11 ozs. and measuring 21" long. Proud grandparents are Kathy & Donnie Lanter, and proud uncle is JJ.

Happy birthday to Gene White, who will be 91 years old on December 28th! Please be sure to wish Gene a happy birthday!

2023 Offering Envelopes

New offering envelopes will be issued to all those who requested them in 2022. If you do not currently have offering envelopes but would like a set for 2023, please contact the church office at 540-343-7685. Please note, however, that all 2023 offering envelopes are backordered and are expected to arrive sometime in January. Until we receive them, please use generic envelopes (with no number) and write your name on them. Generic envelopes are available at the Missions Tables. As long as your name is noted on your donation, we will make sure you receive credit for it. Thank you for your patience!

Lottie Moon Post Office

Please drop by the Lottie Moon Post Office to check for any cards that you may have received.

Play Group Coming to VBC in January

If you have a young child in your life (newborn - PreK) and would enjoy fellowshipping with other families, we have a new play group forming just for you! Beginning January 5th, our Fun & The Son Play Group will meet on Thursdays, 9:30 - 10:30 AM in the Kindergarten room on the first floor of the children's wing. We will provide interactive play opportunities for babies and toddlers and their families. Each child must be supervised by an adult parent, grandparent, or guardian for the full hour. Come out and spend some time playing with others and getting to know neighbors and friends. Questions? Interested? See Betty Jo Overstreet.

WMU& Mission Projects

September - November 2022


$25.00     Standing Rock Mission Trip for supplies

$50.00     City Rescue Mission

$80.00     Keystone Community Center, plus 2 complete Thanksgiving food boxes

$50.00     Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, plus greeting cards and stationery items

$25.00     India Vision Initiative, in memory of Dr. Ray Allen

$150.00   WMU Foundation Heart Fund - Disaster Relief

City Rescue Mission - 20 pies for Thanksgiving dinner

Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes

Visits and cards to shut-ins


The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering Goal for our church is $5,200.00. There are special envelopes in your box of envelopes, and also in the pews. Your help in helping our church reach this goal will be appreciated.


The Lottie Moon Post Office is now available at the Missions Tables in the office lobby. The cost is 25 cents per card, and is for church members only. There is an envelope in the lower right corner of the box for your money. All proceeds go to the Lottie Moon Foreign Missions Offering. Church members should check the Lottie Moon Post Office for any mail that you have received.

Thank you to everyone who supported our Preteen camp fundraiser on December 18th. We are thankful for a wonderful turnout and for the many hands that helped prepare a meal for our guests!

Love, VBC Preteens (3rd-5th Grades)

Thank you to elves Kathryn Sowers and Pat Barton for visiting with me and bringing the gift bag from the children. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Linda Mayhew

Thank you for the thoughts, prayers, cards, visits, and food during my recuperation from my hip surgery and shoulder injury. Your well wishes mean so much, and your visits help pass the time.

Love, Judy Kelley

Please note that The Witness will NOT be published next week. The next issue of The Witness will be published January 4th.

December 2022 Calendar