It’s Advent – Where are my Christmas Carols?
Do you have a specific date for when you or your family accept and enjoy Christmas music? Before that date – “it’s too early for that!” Our timeline may include Christmas decorations too – either in stores or in our neighborhoods – there is a time and a place and in my family it is not before Thanksgiving! (In this same line of thought, it is permissible for craft stores to display holiday items earlier because crafting is not the same as buying and it takes time to put these things together.;-) Mainstream Culture has embraced Christmas and its themes of giving generously, joyful celebrations, and happy and hope filled music. These are sentiments that encourage (obligate?) kind people to buy thoughtful (or expensive) presents, food and drink for hosting social and family gatherings and decorations for our homes, workplace, and even our cars. Commercializing Christmas, or Holiday Cheer is good for business.
It will soon seem impossible to escape Christmas Carols – they will be everywhere – EXCEPT CHURCH!
As people of faith, we prepare for Christmas with Advent. Advent is not about buying or decorating or hosting parties. Advent includes the 4 Sundays before Christmas and prepares us for the comings of the Christ. Not a typo (surprisingly) yes, comings of the Christ. 1. We prepare to celebrate his birth once again. 2. We celebrate that the Christ comes – present tense – continually in Word and Spirit 3. We anticipate the Christ’s return and final victory in the completion of God’s Blessed Community. During Advent worship – we will sing hymns and carols connected to this season of anticipation and expectation. I know it can be frustrating to not belt out our favorite Christmas Carols in church throughout December. Logically, we know that Rudolph and Dominick were not in the manger and Santa was not one of the Magi. But those angels were certainly there: Glory to the newborn King! Part of the truth of Advent is that we are still preparing and holding back in preparation of the joy we anticipate in the Arrival – celebrated on Christmas Eve.
I am neither Grinch nor Scrooge and I share in the love of Christmas and its beautiful music. This year – each Sunday, everyone will have the opportunity to submit requests. Explanation and ballots will be in a repeating insert of our bulletins. On Sunday December 30, we will have a full-on Christmas Carol Hymn Sing! Vote each week of Advent – Janice will have final say as we want her well prepared to play all of our favorites. When, in Advent, we are singing our hymns of preparation, you can actually prepare to sing your Carols of praise and thanksgiving for the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.
It’s not a political election, but it will be better if everyone participates. Please Do!
I would like to take a break from tension and stress from time to time. I feel like the busy days of summer were also the “laid back” days of summer and now I go-go-go all the time. I have some days looked at my schedule and thought – Well I know I can’t get it all done so where will be the first part I cut into? At last month’s community luncheon I planned to do some set up (rare for me), drop off the cornbread, offer a prayer before the meal and duck out as soon as I could. Well, it turned out that I took the time to stay and enjoy the luncheon. I stayed at the luncheon not only because the food was good but also because the company – the community – was good too.
I occasionally walk with the “Alplaus Amblers” – we meet on Tuesdays 9am at the church and walk in town, a nice gentle leisurely stroll. I don’t walk as often as I should but when I do I really enjoy it and have had several fine conversations with folks I am getting to know. This week I went to a volunteer training at City Mission and learned more about their programs and facilities and how there are many daytime ways to help for people of all abilities, schedules, and interests. If you are curious I invite you to ask me or to sign up for a similar (1hr) session on their website. As I sit to write, I have just finished my “shift” at the Apple Fest with the Alplaus Ladies Auxiliary; 4 hours of “Ladder Toss” was a surprisingly fun afternoon where I got to talk to with my co-worker and enjoy the fun of great kids. Not to mention I signed up to make a pie, so I also got to spend the morning in the kitchen with my daughter and my mother. All in all a GREAT day!
“What is your point?” you may be wondering, as I continue to list activities. My point is that these activities were fulfilling and enjoyable. These are some of the fabulous opportunities available to folks who are a part of a community that connects with and cares for neighbors – both literal neighbors and friends from all over. These activities could be seen as tasks on a to-do list. I am thankful that even though I had them on my agenda for the day, they offered me the break from tension and stress for which I was searching.
I still have other things to do – some enjoyable, others less so – but I am thankful for this community in Alplaus that has welcomed me and offers an oasis of peace and rest, even when it is disguised as items “to do”. I pray for each of you the joy of connecting with community. If you are uncertain how to connect, just show up – Alplaus UMC is a little like Jello – there’s always room for more!
One last thing – because I can’t resist… I saw a Church Sign once that read
“Ch ch, what is missing? Answer - U R!”
Blessings, Pastor Kristi