Words From Our Pastor
I’m sitting down to write this just as the mad rush for the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. I looked at I-80 as I crossed over on Lead Hill Blvd this afternoon, heading home from the church. All I saw was the sea of red taillights in one direction and just a smaller number of headlights streaming in the other. I can’t image what is happening at the airport. I am glad we are staying local this year.
Once we finish with the Thanksgiving weekend, we begin a new Christian year with Advent starting December 3rd. Awe, Advent, a time of introspection, waiting, and pondering the meaning of the birth of Jesus. This is a time when we examine our lives and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, remembering his birth as recorded by the Apostles.
This is also a time of chaos. If you think Thanksgiving was a rush, hold on! Christmas is coming! We plan for weeks (if not months or possibly even all year) for this one special day. We Christians think it is special because of the birth of Jesus. But what also floods into and takes over our lives is the planning and decorating around the house; the buying, wrapping, and hiding (if necessary) presents for the family and all the grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins/friends that might show up on our doorstep or on whose doorsteps we will grace. Then there are all the parties and the meals that also fill the time in between. The introspection time of Advent gets shoved aside by the worldly clutter of commercialized Christmas.
Where is Jesus in all of this? Hopefully He is in there somewhere besides December 24th, or the other three Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve. This season is meant to proclaim the coming of Christ, whose birth we prepare to celebrate once again, who comes continually in Word and Spirit, and whose return in final victory we anticipate. Let us prepare our hearts and minds for Advent.
We will have a fun-filled month in worship this December. On December 3rd, the first Sunday of Advent, we will have our Hanging of the Greens service. Everyone enjoyed the festive time we had worshiping and decorating the sanctuary last year. This year, we are going to add another tradition, Christmas Sweater Sunday. Wear your favorite (or not so favorite) Christmas Sweater to church, ugly or not. If you don’t have a Christmas sweater, then wear a Christmas sweatshirt.
The second Sunday of Advent, December 10th, we will spend worship in story and song as we celebrate A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, followed by our Annual Christmas Cantata on December 17th, the third Sunday of Advent.
The fourth Sunday of Advent is Christmas Eve, December 24th. We will have our regular Sunday service at 10:15 a.m. and our Candlelight Christmas Eve Service at 7:00 p.m. This service will be for the whole family. Please invite your friends and neighbors and we celebrate the eve when Christ was born in Bethlehem town.
But with all this joy around the Christmas season also comes pain and hurt, agony and despair, loneliness and thoughts of dread. Some people call it the Christmas blues, a time when it seems all is lost. The longest night of the year will be Thursday, December 21st, and we hold our Longest Night or Blue Christmas service in the sanctuary. Anyone who has difficulty during this time of year, be it because of a death, divorce, loneliness, or just because is welcomed.
Speaking of pain and hurt, we have been fairly fortunate, but not so the people of Sutherland Springs, TX, Las Vegas, NV, or Alexandria, VA, the site of the Congressional baseball field shooting. Some of you, and rightly so, have asked “What about us?” Are we prepared for such a catastrophe if it came to our little church here in Roseville? Sadly, I doubt it. Though there are some with law enforcement or military training, most of our congregation would not know what to do in the event of a shooting or other traumatic event.
To help us prepare, we are going to start by offering a 3-hour video learning and discussion series in conjunction with Church Mutual. We are calling it, Protecting the Greater Good. It will be held on Saturday, 1-6-18, from 9 a.m.-12 noon. It will consist of viewing an instructional video and then discussing it as a group before moving on to the next. There are 3 videos in the series. Once we have finished we can decide how to proceed from there. I invite each and every one of us to attend this class especially our Ad Council.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with some food for thought. After Thanksgiving is all but a distant memory, the joy of Christmas is just a faint sparkle, and we are stumbling trying to remember to write 2018 instead of 2017, we still need to move forward and do the Lord’s work in our community. It never stops. There is always something to be done for the glory of God’s kingdom here on earth. I had a note slipped to me last week with some thoughts that merit our attention. It went like this:
I’ve been thinking of the progress we’ve been making in the growth of our church: the playground for children, a lift for the mobility challenged, the Alpha course, our partnership with COR, the feeding program and other things for the homeless, and the game room for fun. Yet, what have we done for the soon to be tweens and teens? We talk about what we can do, but what have we really done? I don’t think we can have success until we ask the teens and tweens and listen to them; give them a voice in what they want and can do; THEY ARE OUR FUTURE. If we only have one show up for a Sunday school class, what do we do – act like it isn’t worth our time, or act as if we have a full class? Do we treat them as children or as a person who has something to offer in our growth in service to God? Not having these persons attending and serving is going to stunt our growth. We MUST find the way to give them purpose. We must ask, listen and guide them to attain what THEY are called to do. It’s our LEGACY AND DUTY!
Let me ask, are we prepared to provide the best in Christian education and growth to any tween or teen that graces our church? Or do we need to do a bit more planning and preparation, including them and their thoughts on what will help them grow and fully participate in the life of the church?
So, until next month, Shalom.