Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Nugget, Dec 2006

It's coming on Christmas,
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer,
And singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river, I could skate away on.
(Sarah McLachlan, “River”)

We talk so much about the joy and happiness of the Advent and Christmas season, and we invest so much of ourselves in the celebration of the holidays, that it seems traitorous to remind you that this is a very difficult season for some.

Many among us wish that we could simply “skate away” from this time of the year, echoing the sentiments of Sarah McLachlan in the song “River” on a newly released collection of holiday music. Now to be sure, most of us would think long and hard before saying that out loud, of course. That would be like advocating the abolition of mother’s day. Or church potlucks. It seems unthinkable or rude or bad-mannered to say those words. But for far too many of us, Christmas is a very painful time.

And then there are those of us who wish we could “skate away” from this month of December because we feel that Jesus has somehow been kidnapped, removed from the center of the celebration. The heart of the season has been hijacked by those who have made it more a time of worship at the altar of commercialism than honoring the child of Bethlehem. What can we do? How can we skate our way with integrity and meaning THROUGH this season rather than AWAY from it?

As you read about the various programs and activities in this edition of the Nugget, consider carefully those that will enhance your journey through Advent and into Christmas. Take special note of the workshop on “Coping With the Holidays”, with Dr. Liz Armstrong, on Saturday, Dec. 9, as well as the other activities. They are designed to make this month a time of enrichment and not exhaustion, an opportunity for being deepened not weakened.

And heed the warning of Ann Weems, in these words that draw upon the imagery of the Jesus’ birth story,

If there is no room in our inn,
then “Merry Christmas”
mocks the Christ Child,
and the Holy Family is just a holiday card,
and God will loathe our feasts and festivals.
If Christmas is not now,
Then what is all
the noise about?
(from Kneeling at Bethlehem)

I want to say a special thank you to all who are working diligently and planning for some very special worship events this month, in particular our music staff (Kim and Ron and Caitlin, who are working with the choir) as well as our Christian Ed and Youth leaders (Teddie and Tami and Cynthia, who will direct the Christmas pageant). Our Christmas worship services and the children’s pageant will be a special treat for everyone.

Blessings to all of you for a joyous and healthy Advent and Christmas!

Steve Shepard
Interim Pastor

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