Christmas is soon upon us. We've been in the season of Advent. The time that Walter Brueggemann describes as a time of preparation "..for the demands of newness that will break the tired patterns of fear in our lives." There is much we fear...war and rumors of war, betrayal, hunger, loneliness, not living up to our personal expectations, illnesses...the list goes on and on and on.
But Christmas is soon upon us and we've cleared the dust of our souls. We've rehearsed what it is to live with peace, hope, joy, and through this we know a glimpse of what it means to live with the love of Christ.
Christmas eve is on Sunday. We will have our regular ten a.m service on Sunday. The 4pm Christmas eve service will be a joyful service with lots of activity including children. The 8pm service will be a traditional Christmas eve service of scripture, song, and prayer. The 4pm and the 8pm services will end with candles and the singing of Silent Night.
So, let those of us who can sing out with joy.
Rev. Janet L. Maykus
Senior Interim Pastor
As we approach our 3rd Sunday in December, we continue waiting in this season of Advent. We sit in the unknown, aware of our own stress, the challenges around us, war in the world. And in such difficult times, we might wonder – how can we find joy? When is the time for celebrating?
God builds joy into our lives – sometimes squeezing it into the most unexpected places. Advent actually has JOY built right into it on the 3rd Sunday!
Now, just in case you don’t know this about me, perfection is not one of my goals. Ever. I'm big on process and the adventure of the journey. So, I can really appreciate that the Christmas story is not perfect. It is a story full of complications and uncertainty. It is, in fact, a journey that we are all on - together. We are waiting with hope for the coming of the Messiah. We are on the dusty, rocky, and uneven roads to Bethlehem. We are tired… We are longing for some hope, yearning for peace, seeking joy...
We are looking for room - nothing fancy, just anywhere to rest, when there seems to be no space for us. We are finding comfort in simplicity and respite in unexpected places.
When all seems unmanageable and overwhelming, we find joy in celebrating a baby, born into this complicated and imperfect world. When all seems darkest, we are given this gift of JOY. Amidst all the waiting and wondering, we find ourselves on this journey, stopping for just a moment to hold joy in our hearts. The joy of remembering, together, the birth of a tiny baby, born in a stable.
On Sunday, we will remember the Christmas Story together with our Christmas Pageant. That’s some joy, right there! The joy of children crawling around on the chancel, the joy of lines spoken by brave readers into microphones, the joy of sheep, and donkeys, and cheetahs, and shepherds, all gathered together around a new family.
The joy of singing and playing and remembering that we are not on this journey alone. We are together, singing with hope, praying for peace, and celebrating in joy as we remember this meaningful, challenging, and imperfect journey. May we bring our whole selves, whoever we are at this very moment - our messy, complicated, imperfect, and beautiful selves.
I look forward to worshipping with you and celebrating this Sunday of JOY!
With love, always,
We are in the midst of the Advent Season, and I would like to take a minute to talk about the music of Advent that you are hearing every Sunday this month. Advent is a time of waiting, of the desperate hopefulness of refugees, of the joyful yet fearful anticipation of birth, and of the liminal time between the announcement of something wonderful and its fruition.
The music I have been choosing for services has been largely from the “Advent” section of our hymnal - I only just recently learned that most Christmas carols aren’t traditionally considered appropriate during Advent, as they are songs for celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, and we just aren’t there yet in the church calendar. So as we progress through December, the songs have been about waiting and hoping: hoping for peace, waiting for good news, anticipating what has been promised. As we wait and hope, however, let’s remember that Advent is also the time when we prepare for celebration! As in our Advent children’s gathering song says, “Come, celebrate, come and prepare, for the coming of love, this day and every day!”
Of course in case you aren’t spiritually or otherwise invested in Advent, or just want to join in the fun, you are more than welcome to join me and others at the Holiday Sip and Sing, after church this Sunday, December 10, at Aviator Pizza (just down the street from the church at 4005 W Parmer Ln. Suite E). We’ll be outside in their large patio area, singing Christmas songs, Advent Songs, secular carols, all the favorites!
If we haven’t already met, I look forward to meeting each of you. If you have any questions, concerns, constructive criticism, or just want to say "Hi!", please reach out to me in person at church, at the Sip and Sing, via email, or on Facebook.
Peace be with you,
Dear United Christian Church,
Did you know we’re not at the end of the year? The church calendar begins with Advent, so although it seems like we are at year’s end, we’re really at the beginning. Beginning the annual journey through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus with the season of Advent can be frustrating. Who wants to spend time in reflection and preparation when a new baby, angels, and wise men are just over the horizon? But as any athlete or artist will tell you, time spent in preparation, practice, and review is important, even if you’ve been engaged in your endeavor for years.
The themes of Advent are hope, peace, joy, and love. Each of these words can be used in many ways, but in terms of Advent, these words are not just theological concepts, they are words of action. As people of hope, peace, joy, and love we live as if the beloved community is real to all. We live boldly, extending a helping hand when one is needed. We turn the other cheek when people ridicule or scorn, refusing to waste time on petty concerns. We celebrate the accomplishments of everyone without jealousy or envy. We know that love is not sentimental, it is a word covered in the grime and grit of a life fully engaged. We live with integrity. We live honestly, admitting our flaws, pursuing growth, asking for forgiveness and seeking reconciliation. When we live as people of hope, peace, joy, and love we embody justice and mercy.
This is all pretty heavy for the start of a new year! That’s exactly why we travel this same journey year in and year out. The path may be the same, but we will notice new signs along the way each time we pass. We will carry certain thoughts, notions, beliefs some years, and set those aside on others. Some years the journey is more difficult than others. The Advent pilgrimage takes us into the sometimes-painful work of spiritual growth. It takes us to the places where the answers are not easy, and decisions seldom fall in clearly delineated categories. Yet it is the discipline of annual reflection that leads us to spiritual maturity and helps us know that God is with us, that God loves us, and that peace and goodwill are for all people.
May this season prepare you for the presence of Good News in your lives. During this time once called the Little Lent, I pray you take time to practice hope, experience peace, find joy, and know divine love even while wars rage and suffering is all around. Even in the bleak mid-winter, the Light of God shines.
Rev. Janet Maykus