Please help to beautify the Sanctuary during Advent and Christmas. The cost of participation is $20, which covers the cost of a poinsettia and a contribution to the other decorations (wreaths, candles, window decorations, etc.). Deadline for participation is 4:00 p.m. on Monday, December 18. Please let know in the church office (293-3133, ext. 100). Checks should be made payable to Westminster Church and designated “seasonal decorations” and please include your dedication.
Advent and Christmas Calendar:
December 3: First Sunday in Advent 8:30 and 11 am Worship
December 10: Second Sunday in Advent 11 am Worship
Lessons and Carols 5 pm followed by congregation potluck & singing
December 17: Third Sunday in Advent 11 am Worship
December 24: Christmas Eve services at 11 am, 5 pm and 8:30 pm
December 31: Sunday after Christmas at 11 am Worship
January 7: Epiphany of the Lord and Worship with Communion at 11 am
It has been several years since we have had an Alternative Christmas Fair, but for those that are interested the following websites provide interesting opportunities to participate in alternative Christmas giving:
heifer.org (Heifer International)
mercycorps.org (Mercy Corps, based in Portland, OR)
Help lift people out of poverty with a contribution to buy chickens, goats, water wells, training for women, etc. All these organizations are known to use contributions very efficiently.
On Sunday in worship, we celebrated the Epiphany of our Lord, a celebration that marks the end of the Christmas season. As we move into a new year, indeed a new time for us and for our country, I share this poem by African-American theologian, educator and civil rights leader Howard Thurman.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
When I was growing up, my grandmother Lois lived close enough that she spent every Christmas Eve and morning with my family. Born in 1891, her perspective about life differed from mine. After all, she had uncles who had fought in the Civil War and remembered life without the light bulb and telephone. Moreover, she had raised a family during the Great Depression as a single parent.
She wasn’t one to preach with words, but her actions said plenty. And one of the greatest lessons I learned from her came from watching her on Christmas morning. She never rushed to open a present the way I was wont to do. She savored every part of the gift – the bow, the ribbon, and especially the paper. For her the paper was a treasure of its own, often a memory of other presents and other Christmases, and a clue to the giver. For instance, she and I loved one particular paper – a purple paper with a silvery glitter swirl – that each year would alternate between us. When we saw that paper, we knew who the giver was. And so when I saw her handle that paper, tenderly, patiently, she communicated love of the gift and of the giver.
I imagine that Mary held her baby in much the same way. Filled with the tender love of that new and precious life, I imagine she held him with great care, the way one does a priceless treasure. I imagine that in those first hours of his life, the baby Jesus’ demands tested the patience of his young mother and carpenter father. And yet, I imagine that as Jesus looked into their faces, Mary and Joseph rejoiced in the gift of new life and in his bright eyes filled with hope and love, they caught a glimpse of the One who had given them this gift – a giver of joy in the midst of life’s hardships, a giver of light in the presence of darkness, a giver of peace in the midst of turmoil.
At Christmas, we experience God as both gift and giver. Through Jesus, we experience the fullness of God. We treasure the priceless gift of God’s own Son and we marvel at God’s gracious generosity in becoming one of us.
May we, like Mary and Joseph, receive the gift of Emmanuel, God with us, with arms wide open. May we, like Mary and Joseph, cradle the gift of new life with hearts overflowing with joy. And may we look with awe into the eyes of the baby in the manger and see our brother, our Savior and our Lord.
Merry Christmas, dear ones! Lynne