Did you know that this year and next contain the longest possible stretches between Thanksgiving and Christmas? The good news is, we’re not so crunched for time. The bad news is, this year’s “holiday season” will last quite a while! Thus, it’s a perfect opportunity not to jump straight from Thanksgiving into Christmas. Rather, let’s stop and spend some time in the beautiful Season of Advent.
Advent, like Lent, is a season of preparation. Traditionally, it included fasting and penance as each person prepared for the Feast of Christ’s Nativity (or Birth). That’s why the liturgical color for Advent, like Lent, is purple (though some churches use blue). Advent gives us time and space to prepare for Christmas, not just by decorating our homes or buying gifts but by reflecting on its meaning. What does it mean for God to be incarnate? What does it mean for God to be with us? Think about it: God with us (Emmanuel)!
My hope is that you’ll each create some time and carve out some space in this pre-Christmas (Advent) Season to ask these and other questions. I also pray that you’ll consider some alternative ways to celebrate this holiday that, as we all know, has become way too commercial. I’m not suggesting we cease all the “usual” Christmas activities: gift giving, tree decorating, making merry… I’m simply encouraging us to think about the ways in which this season, in particular, fits with our mission of “nurturing love of God and love of neighbor in the world.” Here are several links that may support your Advent Journey:
- Kindness Advent Calendar
- Advent and Depression
- Simple Advent
- Simple Christmas
- Simple Holidays
- Gifts of Comfort and Joy
I hope you’ll look at our Advent & Christmas Calendar (see below) and make a plan that includes loving neighbor (Secret Santas for Shaw), loving self (our annual Advent Retreat), and loving God (our Christmas Pageant, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve Services). I’m looking forward to a joyful season, with prayers that peace, love and justice will reign this year and many years to come.
ADVENT & CHRISTMAS CALENDAR:
Secret Santas for Shaw Community Center, thru 12/10—Gift request tags are now in the parlor. Please take a tag, sign the sheet (so Ashley knows whom to contact) and bring your wrapped gift (with request tag attached) to church by Sunday, 12/10. Questions? email@example.com.
Advent Retreat, 12/9—We’ll meet from 9:30 am to 1 pm for this annual respite from holiday madness. Join Pastor Ellen for a morning of poetry, prayer, silence and spiritual reflection. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FaithLife, 12/10—This group will meet from 6-7:30 pm in the Parlor. Have you ever wondered what Predestination or Total Depravity means? We’re engaged in a stimulating dialogue about Reformation theology and its relevance (or not!) for today. All are welcome.
Christmas Pageant, 12/17—This will be a service for all ages to enjoy. If your child or youth would like to participate, please email email@example.com. There’s a role for everyone!
Poetry Hour, 12/17—Join us from 4-5 pm in the church parlor and bring one or two poems on the theme of Love and Joy to read (with 8 copies to share). Friends are welcome! Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas Eve Poetry, Lessons & Carols Service, 12/24—This will be a joyful morning service of poetry, scripture and song. There will be no Sunday School, but children of all ages are welcome.
Fireside Christmas Eve Service, 12/24—Join us in the Parlor at 7:30 pm for a cozy fireside service of traditional Lessons and Carols. Friends and Family are welcome!
New Year’s Eve Service, 12/31—We’ll gather in the Parlor at 10:30 am for an Auld Lang Syne Service of remembrance for things past and hope for what’s yet to come.