Advent is upon us. As I write this I can hear Ernie in the Sanctuary, practicing Thanksgiving hymns. Last night I was here late and heard the Handbell Choir working on Christmas pieces. There was snow in the air on the way home. ‘Tis the season! While the run-up to Christmas in the outside world seems to depend on and perpetuate a sense of frantic activity, every year it seems more possible than ever to find islands of calm and contemplation here at church. We certainly want this to be a possibility for you, whether through the many seasonal programs we are preparing, the normal rhythms of our worship together, or just in sharing this wonderful space. Enter, Rest, Pray.
Ernie has already started working with a group of 18 youngsters in preparation for the annual Christmas Pageant, which will be a central part of the service of worship on December 12th. Three days before that, on Friday, December 10th, we invite all of you to join us for the annual Hanging of the Greens. We may schedule a play rehearsal that afternoon, but the decorating will begin in earnest at 5:30 when we break out the craft supplies and begin making ornaments for the trees supplied again this year by our resident lumberjacks Mark and Curtis McPeek. We’ll have a potluck supper at 6:00, and all are welcome to join us for the supper, the decorating, and the carol singing, which will follow. We’ll be done by 7:30, making this a good event for everyone who needs plenty of sleep. We are really hoping that this will be a completely intergenerational gathering, as it was last year.
We will be repeating last year’s very successful Vacation Church School on Thursday, December 23rd from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for all children in grades K-5. Children may be dropped off between 9:45 – 10:15 a.m. for a day of fun and fellowship, supervised by church staff (me!) as well as adult and high school volunteers. There will be crafts (with opportunities to make a last-minute gift or greeting card), carols, some healthy exercise (let it snow!), lunch (bring your own) and story time. We are eager to have volunteers join us for one-hour time slots, and contribute to any of the above- mentioned segments. We’d love to have you share your favorite Christmas craft, lead some singing, or read a story. We will be posting a signup sheet for this once we wend our way into December.
In addition to the Advent-oriented activities highlighted above, and elsewhere herein, we have been working on other programming as well. We hope you will make plans to join us after church on December 19th for a Second Hour presentation by our own Helen Jack, who will give us a critical big picture perspective on how to fight poverty with development aid. Her long advocacy for justice and peace issues, which began here and at Hanover High, and has continued with leadership roles in several programs at Yale, gives her a unique viewpoint. Helen spent two months in Africa this summer, which provided a first-hand perspective for her thoughts.
We have been working on the ongoing initiatives to enhance our congregation’s prayer life, and they are bearing fruit, not only in the Advent Devotional Guide, but also in our Prayer Project for the children of the church. You’ll be hearing about this very soon. Soon after that, we’ll be providing details of our seminars on prayer in January, sessions based on the wonderful responses we had from your feedback on last month’s meeting and on the pink prayer questionnaires. We must not wait until then, though, to seize the seasonal opportunities to slow down, listen and open our hearts and minds for Christ’s re-entry into our lives. Advent is upon us.