Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thank You Church Staff!

Following worship today, the church staff enjoyed a celebratory Christmas lunch out on the town! Table fellowship is an integral part of our church's DNA, so we happily enjoyed a couple of hours eating, laughing, telling stories, and visiting. (Shout out to Amici's for the photo shoot!)

Karen is our secretary.  I can't tell you how many people stop by Karen's office each week. Her gifts of humor, pastoral care, and encouragement make everyone feel welcome.  Also she understands and mostly appreciates my "gift" of sarcasm.  Thank you, Karen!

Janice is our pianist.  Janice has built on our strength of people of all ages to plan a Christmas musical involving 2 year-olds to 90 year-olds. I love it!  Janice and her daughter Angela have started a children's choir. Our little worshippers are joyful and learning to lead. Thank you, Janice!

Hallie is our Coordinator of Family Ministries.  Hallie organizes fellowship and fun. She is skilled in equipping others to lead (discipleship!).  Today she shared plans for a hot cocoa bar at church on Dec. 25th.  PERFECT!  Her enthusiasm is infectious. Thank you, Hallie!

Thanks be to God for these ladies.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Songs of the Season

At Scottsville Baptist Church we kick off the holiday season by making Advent wreaths.  On Sunday we lit the first purple candle. Soon the sanctuary will be adorned with greenery and a tree of Chrismons.  Musicals, parties, caroling, missions, and candlelit services will fill December with joy.

Christmas is also great for all the holly, jolly Hallmark-y reasons.  I can quote Elf and own a Clark W. Griswold t-shirt.  Christmas is my jam.  I love the holidays and I'm a glass half full lady; however for these first days of the Christian new year I listen to the contemplative, serious carols of the season.

The Christmas story in Matthew is not all tinsel and bows.  Joseph was told in a dream that his family must leave Bethlehem.  Herod was foaming at the mouth to destroy the Christ child, so in the dead of night Joseph woke his family and they hightailed it to Egypt.  The holy family were refugees on the run. 

Herod went on to commit atrocities so evil we don't like to speak them aloud any time of the year--much less at Christmas.  Part of my Advent discipline is to listen to Coventry Carol and mourn that the world was not and is not as it should be.

Listening to serious carols during Advent is a way of lamenting brokenness--then and now.  It is also a prayerful way of lifting up and remembering those who are not in a holly, jolly way this season.  They sit beside us in the pews and next to us at work.  People grieve the loss of loved ones.  Ornaments and traditions hold memories--some of which are painful.  Every family has broken relationships--sometimes seemingly beyond repair. The plight of refugees is real.  Fleeing oppressors did not end with the holy family's journey to Egypt. 

Pray this season to notice those for whom Christmas is complicated.  Reach out to the lonely and weary.  Make room at your table.  Visit folks who are missing a spouse.  Don't insist people emote in certain ways.  Feel free to be cheerful, but make room grieving and tears.

Seek ways to aid refugees in your neighborhood.  Look out for the widows and widowers and orphans.  Give to missions and non-profits who minister to those in need.  Read the entire Christmas story and reach out to the world.

Make room for serious carols during Advent.  It's important.  

"...and in His name all oppression shall cease."