The Season of Advent, when we await God’s Presence, has given way to Christmas and Emmanuel, God with us. The darkness before Solstice is giving way to longer days, and the Light is more and more here.
I’d hoped to participate in Jan Richardson’s online Advent Retreat, but I wasn’t able to make it happen. It’s difficult to take a proper time out in our culture, and I, too, succumb to the busyness of the pre-Christmas “season.”
However, during the Twelve Days of Christmas (a proper season), I’ve renewed my intention to spend some time in reflection and retreat. Thus, I’m grateful to Jan for offering yet another online treasure, A Retreat for Women’s Christmas (which can be enjoyed by both women and men). Jan is a poet, so I’ll share one of the poems she includes in this year’s retreat. I believe courage is key at this particular point in time. For, if fear is at the root of our division and pain, courage and love are its much-needed antidotes.
Blessing of Courage
I cannot say
where it lives,
only that it comes
to the heart
that is open,
to the heart
to the heart
that does not turn away.
It can take practice,
days of tugging at
what keeps us bound, seasons of pushing against what keeps our dreaming small.
When it arrives,
it might surprise you by how quiet it is, how it moves
with such grace
for possessing such power.
But you will know it
by the strength
that rises from within you to meet it,
by the release
of the knot
in the center of
that suddenly lets go.
You will recognize it by how still
your fear becomes as it loosens its grip, perhaps never quite leaving you,
but calmly turning into joy
as you enter the life that is finally
Friends, I pray you’ll experience this sense of fear loosening its grip and “calmly turning into joy,” and that it will bring you both strength and peace as the Christmas Season continues and the year comes to an end. Please join me Sunday for a service focused on the Twelve Days of Christmas and their importance to our spiritual journey. Advent lasted until December 24th. From December 25th to January 6th, we rejoice!
Peace and Blessings,
Stewardship Campaign—THANK YOU to everyone who has made their 2019 pledge! If you haven’t, please do so by December 31. Our 2019 budget calls for a 4% increase in pledges, primarily due to a 2.8% COLA for our dedicated staff. You can send in the pledge card you were mailed or fill out one online.
Year’s End Service, 12/30—We’ll gather in the Parlor for a service that celebrates the Twelve Days of Christmas. There’s no Sunday School, but children of all ages are welcome. The Nursery is open.
Lectio Divina: Holy Listening, 1/6—Join fellow seekers from 4-5:15 pm in the parlor for contemplative prayer in community with discussion, written reflection, encouragement, and inspiration for creating a regular practice. This series focuses on listening for God in sacred text, silence, the natural world, and relationship with others. We’ll meet again the first Sundays of March and May. Questions? email@example.com.
Bible Study, 1/13—This group will meet after coffee hour to begin our study of the book of Exodus. All are welcome! For more information: Dit Talley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Poetry Hour, 1/20— Join us from 4-5 pm and bring one or two poems on any theme (with 8 copies to share). Friends welcome! Questions? email@example.com.
Sing for Freedom, MLK Sunday, 1/20—We’ll honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in this music-filled worship service for all ages.
Retreat: Mothers-Daughters-Sisters-Friends, 1/26—We all know amazing women and stand on the shoulders of those who precede us. Join Pastor Ellen and Kris Davis from 10 am-5 pm for a daylong retreat celebrating Women and Spirit. Men are welcome! Ages 12 and up are invited to participate. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org