Monday, December 25, 2006

a Happy Christmas

Being a bit of a whiner (ahem), I find myself doing quite a bit of eye-rolling and complaining when I look on the liturgical calendar and find that Christmas Eve is falling on the 4th Sunday of Advent yet again. This year was no exception (although frankly I was quite glad to be working as an Interim, and not circuit riding my way across Oklahoma like last Christmas Eve). We did our best at St. C's to plan a reasonable set of services for a congregation of our size, which included a joint service of Morning Prayer for 4 Advent, followed by decorating and a potluck in the Parish Hall.

I'm going to learn, one of these days, to just stuff go and leave it in God's hands. Because after all of my worrying about assorted liturgical details, and wondering if anyone would show up, and if we would have a nice time, and all the other things that clergy worry about in the week leading up to Christmas Eve. . .it was one of the most lovely Christmases I can remember (and I'm writing this before Husband and I have even done our Santa moments, as he is off to do a Christmas morning service at his church).

During Advent, St. C's did an Angel Tree, like many other churches I've attended in the past. We had angels on the tree with requested Christmas presents for members to buy for people in the community. But what made it so special for me was that these were presents for people we knew. We had angels on the tree for the residents of some group homes for developmentally disabled adults that we have been working with for the past six months--some were presents for the homes themselves, and some were presents for some of the residents who have no living family members. And some of the other presents were suggested to us by a social worker who's working with me with a family in our geographical area.

After our service was over in the morning, and while many of the congregation were decorating, the coordinator for the group homes came up to pick up the presents, and she was staggered by what she saw. The pile of presents we had gathered had been stacked in front of the altar to be blessed by our worship, and it was an impressive sight. As I'm writing this,I'm sitting about two inches from our tree and the pile of presents underneath, and I'm not going to deny that it's a good thing, but I don't think a pile of presents has ever made me so joyful as that pile in front of the altar yesterday morning.

It's been a scattered holiday season for us. We finally got our tree up on Saturday, and it's just a bare tree--thank goodness for pre-lit artificial trees. I have done no baking, Christmas card writing--I got just enough done. But a funny thing happened--it's been one of the most wonderful Christmases I can remember.

I was at Large Unnamed Chain Craft Store a couple of days ago picking up some last minute items, and I overheard a woman say to another woman that every year she tried to make Christmas bigger and better than the last, but that this year she was really struggling with that. I'm grateful to her because she gave me my sermon illustration for the late service last night, but she also gave me a thought that I have been pondering in my heart--it's not about doing Christmas bigger and better. It's about being attentive to the places where Jesus is coming into the world, and putting yourself there with him.

A blessed Christmas to all!

Friday, December 15, 2006

moving into the 21st century

I have discovered Itunes.

God help me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

the advent of Advent Friday Five

via the RevGals:

1) Do you observe Advent in your church?
We Episcopalians don't let you skip from Thanksgiving to Christmas. There must be Advent. I love celebrating Advent, and was giddy as a schoolkid when the box arrived from Creative Communications this week that had the meditation booklets, children's sticker books and candle table tents that I ordered for the congregation.

2) How about at home?Yes and no. In theory, we do. But if we didn't start doing some Christmas stuff in Advent, it would never get done--ie. hanging decorations and lights. We do have a couple of Advent wreaths, but if you read this blog you'll already have a good sense of how well we stick to disciplines around this house. . .So we do Advent in a classically ENFP kind of way. The wreath will come out--whether or not the candles get lit every day is a whole 'nother matter. (In fact, do I have candles? Hmmm.)

I always try and find a chocolate Advent calendar--wait, that's not really a spiritual celebration of the season.

3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hym
Yes, although I discovered it not in church but on one of the Very Special Christmas albums. Sting covered it, which is what made me sit up and take notice and then I discovered it was in the Episcopal hymnal. Just imagine the adolescent girl squeal moment I had when I found THAT.

"The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame
La la la la la (kind of unclear on the words here)
Most highly favored lady, Gloria."

Can we talk about my least favorite Advent hymn? UGH. "On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry. . ."Yawn. The music is dull and is often played at a plodding rate. Ok, it's possible I might have an issue here.

4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.) It's a conspiracy to make packages of Advent candles more expensive. Because otherwise you could just buy 4 purples (or blue--your Advent color mileage may vary) and be done with it. But NO. . . .you have to buy the special candles.

(Ok, I actually love Rose Sunday. And sometimes we get to sing the hymn from question 2).

5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen? As long as it has chocolate in it, I kind of don't notice what's on the calendar.

Didn't the Vicar of Dibley have a rock star Advent calendar? I think it's the Christmas lunch episode.