November 27, 2022

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Please pray with me:

Holy One, we trust that you are always with us. We cling to your words that are never time-worn and that always give us a hint of hope. In your love and mercy, oh God, you sent a child who would lead us and guide us; give us joy, help us to be peacemakers and show us how to love one another as you love us! True Hope of all the earth, come again and prepare in us a warm and welcoming place, where we may embrace a little quiet time in the center of these once again filled-up days of Advent. Let us find light amidst these short days and long nights. Let our every breath be a prayer of praise and let our celebration have no end. Amen.

During this season of Advent and through the 12 days of Christmas, I invite you to check out the many activities listed in the “Open Door” and mark your calendars so that you not miss a single opportunity to gather as a family of faith.

During the four Sundays of Advent, at 9:30 AM, worship will include lighting the candles on the Advent wreath, scripture, prayer, music and a “message.” Communion will be shared on December 4 – be sure to have bread or a cracker, wine or juice ready if you are attending via live stream.

On Thursday nights from 6:00-6:30 PM, we will gather in the chapel for a Taizé Prayer Service.

What’s that?? In the south of Burgundy, France is the village of Taizé. This village is home to a monastic community devoted to prayer and reconciliation, founded in the 1940’s by Brother Roger. The community is made up of brothers from all the continents and major denominations who gather together three times a day, seven days a week, throughout the year to pray, whether there are 7,000 young people present or 10.

While many people make pilgrimages to Taizé to experience the community and prayer life, most experience Taizé through the ways that community comes to us, namely by the characteristics it has contributed to Christian worship practices.

The characteristic of Taizé worship that is most familiar is the use of a kind of repetitive prayer and biblical texts set to simple musical lines. Taizé worship is generous in its use of silence. Like repetition, the use of silence in worship has a rich history that many of us no longer experience. Praying silently in the presence of others, or simply sitting in the presence of God takes some practice, but you will find it to be calming. We will be experiencing all of this in the flicker of candlelight. You will be pleasantly surprised!

All are welcome in this place, too!

Even though the church’s Advent preparations begin on November 27, the countdown to Christmas began some time ago! I have noticed homes being decorated before Thanksgiving, strings of lights being strung on outdoor trees and Christmas trees being lit; local businesses decorated and wreaths being sold by the Boy Scouts. It seems that we get ready for the Christmas season earlier every year. And, even before the dishes were cleared off the Thanksgiving table, did you talk about getting the family and friends together again for Christmas? We did. Somehow, even though we never quite know how all the details will fit into place, we hope that all will be ready in time, and all will be well.

In ancient days, peoples’ entire lives were spent expecting the coming of the Messiah. The prophets had foretold that coming, it was on everyone’s minds. The prophet, Micah 5:2 CEV, spoke these words: As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces, one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you. His origin is from remote times, from ancient days.

For as long as we can remember, the waiting time before Christmas has been important to us. As children, we waited. As adults, we have helped the children deal with the waiting. There is a certain mystery, an anxious anticipation, an awakening that rouses our senses and shakes the cobwebs off our memories.

We find ourselves thinking of sugar plums, angel choirs, the young ones acting in the Christmas pageant, the family jello, flickering candles, words of scripture.

Eugene Peterson, the author of “The Message,” interprets the words of Paul, written to the Romans 8:24 in this way: “Waiting does not diminish us any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.

“We are enlarged in the waiting During times of waiting, God is vibrantly at work within us.

–Luci Shaw, “Nourishment for the journey,” in Nouwen Then, Christopher de Vinck, ed.
(Zondervan, 1999)

Come join us during these “waiting days” for any or all of our worship times and invite someone to come with you! We all will be “enlarged” in the experience!

Peace be with you during these days of Advent and may your “Christmassing” be merry, bright…and safe!

Pastor Mary Jo Laabs

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