Happy New Year!!
You say that it is a bit early to be wishing all a Happy New Year? Not in the church. Today is the first day of the church year as we begin a new cycle of readings and observances. So yes, Happy New Year!
Today we enter the season of Advent – the four Sundays preceding Christmas. This is a time of reflection, repentance, and preparation for the event of the birth of the Christ child. This is an event that happened in the past historically, that happens in the present as we live into our faith, and that will happen in the future when the kingdom of God is fully manifested. This is one of those special times of the year that we mark with midweek services. This year they will be held on:
Each of these days we will gather for a simple meal followed by a short worship service. Dinner will begin at 5:30 and the service will begin at 7:15. Please take some time out from the busy-ness of Christmas as it is celebrated in our culture to slow down and reflect on the mystery that is unfolding – the mystery that God would see fit to become one of us, to live among us.
In order for us to share a meal, we will need volunteers to bring soup and bread or crackers. Two pots of soup should be enough for each week. We will have a signup sheet available on this coming Sunday. Pick your favorite soup to share!
In our society, there is much emphasis this year on social events. It is always good to get together with friends and family, but even this can become exhausting as schedules become filled with all sorts of events in addition to the tasks we feel we must do. There is also much emphasis on gifting. Once again, this is a beautiful custom but it can be carried to the extreme so that we end up spending more than we should for gifts that may or may not really be wanted or appreciated. Take time to step back and look at these obligations and determine what really has meaning for you. Give yourself some grace to rest and enjoy the peace of God that comes to us at Christmas!
One last note – I am putting together a series of brief Advent devotionals on YouTube that you can listen to each day. They aren’t quite done yet, but I’m hereby committing to completing them. You can get to them at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9lwxSCLx0mCs5Rdjn0cfBk6Ru4OtWcR7. It won’t appear until Sunday, and after that, one video will appear each day. I did this last year at Atonement and there were some that found them useful, so I thought I’d try it again.
Wishing you a peaceful and joyous Christmas season!