The tree is down and the ornaments are put away. You have recycled the cards and worn the gift socks at least once. The fridge is finally returning to normal after you’ve eaten all the great leftovers. Christmas appears to be over for another year. Well, not quite. Today (January 4) is the eleventh day of Christmas (pipers piping), so I can offer one more thought on Christmas.
While listening to the Christmas lessons this year, I was struck by how often an angel urged someone not to be afraid. You can understand how these people might be afraid of the angels, with all the wings and singing and whatnot. But people were also afraid at the message the angels brought. In every case the message proved to be kind of weird. Gabriel told Mary not to be afraid when he announced that she was to conceive the Messiah. Another angel told Joseph not to be afraid to be afraid to take Mary to be his wife. A host of angels told the shepherds not to be afraid, because their savior had been born.
All of these angels started their message the same way: fear not. Fear not is a pretty good sermon in itself, one I need to hear a lot myself. I confess that I am a coward, afraid of a lot of things. I am afraid of capsizing a sailboat. I am afraid of being hit. I am afraid of looking like a fool. I am afraid of cancer. I am afraid of nuclear war. I am afraid of some (but not all) dogs. That’s a short list. There are more I am afraid (!) to tell you.
Some of these fears are rational. Some of them prevent me from doing stupid things. Some of them are irrational. Some of them prevent me from doing things I should do, or would enjoy doing. Some of them involve things I cannot control.
This year I am going to try to listen to the angels a bit more. Fear not. Or at least be a bit more thoughtful about rational versus irrational fears. And I am going to keep in mind a wonderful benediction: “Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all people; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you, and remain with you forever. Amen.”
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Stewardship: If you have not yet fulfilled your 2017 pledge or made your 2018 pledge, please do so now! Our budgeting process depends on accurate and up to date accounting of all pledges prior to our Annual Congregational Meeting on January 28. If you have already fulfilled and made your 2017and 2018 pledges: Thank You!
MLK Gospel Service: “Sing for Freedom!” 1/14— We hope you’ll join us for our third annual MLK Weekend Gospel Service led by folk singer and acoustic musician, Diana Wagner, www.dianawagnermusic.com. All musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and play along (there will be a run-through at 9:30 am). Everyone else, come prepared to SING!
Cabinet Meeting, 1/14—We’ll meet in the library after worship. This is the bi-monthly meeting of our church’s lay leadership. All are welcome!
Poetry Hour, 1/21—Join us from 4-5 pm in the church parlor and bring one or two poems on a Beginnings theme to read (with 8 copies to share). Friends are welcome! Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org.
FaithLife Group, 1/21—This group meets from 5:30-7 pm in the parlor. We’re currently discussing the relevance of the Protestant Reformation to our lives today. Questions? email@example.com.
Dinner and a Movie: The Confirmation, 1/26—A divorced father and his eight-year-old son are about to spend a somewhat predictable weekend together, but when a valuable toolbox gets stolen, the search for the thieves will soon turn into true family bonding. Ann Hornaday writes that this 2016 film “might be my favorite kind of Christian movie—the kind that prizes holy ignorance more highly than religious certainty.” Movie at 7 pm, simple supper at 6:30. Sign up in the parlor or email firstname.lastname@example.org by 1/24.
100th Anniversary Through the Decades: the 20s and 30s, 1/28—Join us for a 10:30 am worship service commemorating our history in the 1920s and 1930s. Come in period costume or bring personal artifacts from these decades, then browse the “museum table” of church artifacts from this time period during coffee hour.
Annual Congregational Meeting, 1/28—We’ll meet after worship for our annual meeting to elect new lay leaders, approve the 2018 budget, and preview 2018 programs and plans. Every voice has a vote: we need yours!