Looking Towards Advent and Christmas

Looking Towards Advent and Christmas

With the Election in Our Rearview Mirror, Looking Towards Advent and Christmas… 

Ok, all our eyes were on the election. And the church’s fence was completely covered with candidate’s signs. 

And inside, the building was buzzing all day with voters trying to find their division – the right place to vote. And election workers were stacked on top of each other (and making meals for themselves in the church kitchen?). And all day long, I kept hearing that strange little noise that I never recognized until past 7 pm was the sound electronic voting machines make. 

The one division that was moved upstairs into the Sanctuary had the happiest election workers I have ever seen. They said, “We’re all alone, in a lovely space; it’s so peaceful up here.” They were not so thrilled to hear the Judge of Elections suggest that next election, they’ll move another division upstairs. 

But since they reported what I had hoped – neighbors entered the Sanctuary in amazement, admitting they’d never been upstairs before or guessed how beautiful the space was. I wonder if we shouldn’t ask the whole election operation upstairs to showcase our Sanctuary to our neighbors?  

And thanks be to God that – perhaps – the American electorate is getting fed up with the election deniers and a style of politics that glories in putting whole groups of people down. 

On Wednesday, Unite Here, the hospitality workers’ labor union that Bethany and Mike work for, hosted a bang-up celebration party in our Social Hall. They were marking the completion of a successful civic engagement campaign – they had drafted a host of canvassers from neighborhoods with low voter turnout to knock on over 980,000 doors between March and election day. 

And it was a party! They had good music (their singer sounded like a mix between Jill Scott and Anita Baker!) and good food – and enough bacon to make one feel guilty – with leftovers for the church and the Saturday Breakfast.  You will see some of the flowers they left behind in worship on Sunday. And Tony P., they had scented candles on all the tables – you should have smelled the Social Hall (were it not for the smell of bacon, I might have been overwhelmed, even swooned!). 

But as I rode my bike home Wednesday night, I saw that workers were already putting up the Christmas tree and lights at the pocket park on Broad Street across from the Divine Lorraine, a space that is otherwise a favorite of the Black Israelites’ preaching ministry. Christmas trees two weeks before Thanksgiving? 

It may be too early for my sense of the seasons. But it’s not too early for planning at church. We’re well down that road (we’re preparing the Christmas letter next week), and I want to share with you some of what we have in store. 

Advent begins, as it does most often, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We have penciled in for Saturday, November 26 an all-church work day. There’s still some cleaning – mostly dusting – to do after all the construction. And we have to decorate for Christmas … in the new space where it’s not obvious (at least to me) where the Christmas trees go! 

And for Advent, I have purchased a worship package from BarnGeese Resources entitled “Out of the Blue.” That title refers to how moments of change so often seem to come out of the blue, altering our expectations and creating a future we never thought possible. It’s almost Advent; what will God reveal to us this season? 

With this resource, we’ll be able to have midweek Advent services (I’m thinking of them scheduled for Wednesday evenings in place of the online prayer group for those 4 weeks) and weekly devotionals (delivered in the E-pistle). Both the midweek service and the devotional  in this resource refresh an ancient practice of studying “The Jesse Tree,” that is the lineage and family of Jesus as described by Matthew and Luke. But our resource isn’t only about looking back in history at Jesus’ forebears. It also asks us where we find Jesus in our present. And where or how he will be reflected in the lives, witness and service of those who come after us.

Holly is working on a special music Sunday for Dec. 11, an orchestra or some such! We will see if we can work this out. 

And we are planning that Christmas Eve will be the 5pm Family Service following Mary and Joseph and their donkey around the neighborhood looking for room at the Inn. And 8 pm, our redesigned Sanctuary will serve as host to our traditional Candlelight Service. The season continues all the way through New Year’s and on until Epiphany which we will celebrate on January 8, 2023. 

But let’s not jump over Thanksgiving completely! How about a zoom Thanksgiving Prayer Service at 10 am online on Thursday, Nov. 24? 

More details to follow–

Faithfully yours,