As we enter the Advent (Christmas) season there’s a lot going on, with or without all of Santa’s reindeer…
Upcoming events in December:
Saturday, Dec. 3rd Cookie Walk 9 am to noon in fellowship hall:
The Whitechapel Handbell Choir will be playing seasonal pieces in the sanctuary following the cookie walk at noon.
Sunday, Dec. 4th Advent candle lighting celebrating Joy with Communion:
A reminder that you can choose how to take communion:
1) Through receiving the elements (bread & juice) as they are passed by our deacons in a traditional style.
2) We also have single containers of juice and wafer you can pick up as you enter the church.
Sunday, Dec. 11th Advent candle lighting celebrating Peace and wearing your favorite brightest, boldest Christmas sweater:
We’ll be bringing in and blessing the Pioneer Center Christmas wish list items.
During the worship it’s Sunday School for kids.
Saturday Dec. 17 Ice Sculpture & Cocoa Crawl on the square (downtown Huntley) from noon to 5 pm: Fellowship Hall will be used as a warming station and possibly more, in discussion at the time of writing this newsletter article.
Sunday, Dec. 18th Advent candle lighting celebrating Love and a special candle lighting for Blue Christmas:
Depending on the response we could go Christmas caroling after the service to shut in church members, let me know if you’re interested.
Saturday Dec. 24th Christmas Eve services at 4 & 11 pm:
We’ll tell the Christmas story through Scripture readings by the congregation coupled with well-known Christmas hymns, a special kids time and lighting the Christ advent candle, leading to silent night sung in candlelight.
Blessings, Pastor Michael
Second Sunday of Advent, December 4, 2022
Third Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2022
Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18, 2022
First day of winter, December 21, 2022
Christmas Eve, December 24, 2022
Christmas Day, December 25, 2022
New Year’s Eve/Watch Night, December 31, 2022
The Upside-Down of Christmas
Theologian Halford Luccock once saw a shopper “who looked like an animated Christmas tree with packages dangling from every limb.” When he retrieved some dropped bags, she grumbled that Christmas “turns everything upside down.” Luccock replied, “That is just what it was made for!”
He explained: “Christmas is a story about a baby, and that is a baby’s chief business, turning things upside down. … A baby in a family divides time into two eras, just as Christmas does. There is B.C., which means ‘before child,’ and A.D., which means ‘after deluge.’”
When God became flesh, the lowly, last, least and lost were exalted, added Luccock. As a result, “the locked-up treasures of kindliness and sympathy come from the inside of the heart, where they are often kept imprisoned, to the outside of actual expression in deed and word.” The Christ-child “enables all [people] to get at the best treasures of their lives and offer them for use.”
A Christmas Harvest
Christmas is the harvest time of love. Souls are drawn to other souls. All that we have read and thought and hoped comes to fruition at this happy time. Our spirits are astir. We feel within us a strong desire to serve. A strange, subtle force, a new kindness, animates man and child. A new spirit is growing in us. No longer are we content to relieve pain, to sweeten sorrow, to give the crust of charity. We dare to give friendship, service, the equal loaf of bread and love. —Helen Keller
At Home in our Hearts
“All hearts come home for Christmas,” according to popular sentiment. But what if your heart (and/or home) is hurting or troubled? Does this season have room for people who are struggling? Does the holiday still have meaning?
Yes, God’s word tells us. In fact, that’s why God sent Jesus, the Word, from his heavenly home to make “his dwelling among us” (John 1:14, NIV). As fully human, Jesus experienced loneliness and betrayal, loss and physical pain. He was rejected by loved ones, angered by corruption, and abandoned to die. But as fully God, Jesus provides answers, healing and hope. Through his resurrection (which first required an earthly birth), Jesus offers salvation to all who believe in him.
As we await the heavenly home that God’s Son is now preparing, we can welcome him and his comforting promises, even into our hurting hearts.
A Prayer for Christmas
The internet reveals little about Wilda English — only that she lived from 1916 to 1997 and once resided in California. No details exist about her family, work or interests. Just this prayer, widely shared online. And it is no small thing. Indeed, the prayer tells much about her faith.
God bless Wilda English for sharing these words with the world. May they continue to inspire many!
God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;
the warmth of Christmas, which is love;
the radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
the belief in Christmas, which is truth;
the all of Christmas, which is Christ.
A Collaboration Across Time and Place
For Christmas Day worship, many churches use Psalm 98. It is fitting, then, that Isaac Watts, who interpreted 132 psalms as hymn texts, based a now-beloved carol on it.
Watts (1674-1748) was a student of language, religion and philosophy. He wanted to make Scripture more relevant to lay people and thought hymns could help. Watts composed more than 600 hymn texts, many still in use. But Psalm 98:4-9, “Joy to the World,” needed music to fit its words.
Enter Lowell Mason (1792-1872), an American choir director. He came across Watts’ Psalm 98 hymn text and sought inspiration for a melody from the famous oratorio Messiah by George F. Handel (1685-1759). Mason pulled musical phrases from sections of Handel’s work, resulting in the tune we now recognize as “Joy to the World.”
So it is that three men who lived across three centuries and never met — along with the composer of the original psalm more than two millennia earlier — together produced a hymn to the Christ-child, which millions have sung and continue to love.