1st Sunday of Christmas: Thanks for Christmas Generosity; Our Celebrations Continue; Festive Potluck Coffee Hour
December 28 , 2019
Thanks to one and all for your generous Christmas giving for the Mitten Tree the Town's Heating Assistance Program, the Memorials & Thanksgivings, and the end-of-the-year appeal included in my Christmas letter!
The Mitten Tree was amazingly covered twice with scarves, gloves, mittens, socks and caps as part of our efforts to keep our neighbors warm. Most everything on and around the tree went to New Haven's Chapel-on-the-Green before Christmas Eve, and then, during the first days of Christmas, it was covered again! The tree will remain up, welcoming your gifts, through the Epiphany, January 6, and then all its "decorations" will be delivered to Chapel-on-the-Green for those who live on the margins of plenty in New Haven.
Thank you also for your Angels-under-the-Balcony gifts for the Town's Heating Assistance program. These gifts are still being counted and will also be welcomed through the Epiphany.
Thanks to all who stayed after last Sunday's 10a.m. service to help the Altar Guild and Marsha Brown transform our worship space from its simple Advent vesture into readiness for our Christmas celebrations.
Thanks also to all who gave the memorial and thanksgiving gifts that made the flowers and special music of our celebrations possible.
Our celebrations began at dusk on Christmas Eve with the Sunday School's Nativity Pageant. Thanks to all the children and youth participants, and the parents and grandparents who got them to rehearsals and the service itself, Special thanks go to Pageant Director Donna LaFata, Youth String Ensemble Director Suky Bryan and Music Director Mark Sullivan, and to Anthony LaFata who mastered getting the Bethlehem backdrop into place, and then packed up again. The service came together in a delightful fashion.
The church nave filled again for the candlelight service. The sounds of choir, harp and strings, as well as the organ, again stirred the heart. Thanks to our Choir and the musicians! On the morning of Christmas Day, Beth Stevens solo, and all the voices of that congregation, made for another fulsome celebration.
As I keep reminding, it takes everyone of the twelve days from Christmas to the Epiphany to "unwrap" the celebrations of Christmas. A colleague of mine posted that he considered any gift of card sent during these twelve days to be "on time."
We mark the first Sunday after Christmas Day with special orders of service that recall the prophetic foretelling of the Messiah's coming -- his Advent, if you will -- and move through an annunciation, to John's powerful exposition of the Incarnation -- the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us full of grace and truth. At the 10a.m. service, we'll separate the readings with opportunities to sing more carols.
If you have holiday cookies or other treats that you're willing to share, please bring them with you for a festive potluck coffee hour. I look forward to sharing our continuing celebrations with you!
In faith and hope,
December 6 , 2019
No matter the weather, the Town of Guilford gathers today on, and around, the Green to celebrate light in the midst of darkness. While the centerpiece may be the Tree-Lighting on the Green, together with our neighbors of other faith traditions, and none, Christ Church will add to the evening's brightness with our hospitality and events:
Chili-Supper -- Please remember to invite friends and neighbors to warm themselves -- along with you and yours -- against the evening chill and damp with delicious chili prepared to preferred degrees of hotness – con carne and vegetarian. There are also hotdogs for those who prefer. And it's such a deal: $8 asked for adult appetites and $4 for children. Please remember your promised cornbread and help with the evening's tasks.
The tables are set, the Parish Hall looks lovely, and the chili prep is well underway!
Cookie Sale – Chili Supper patrons may purchase dessert from the bounty of cookies and other holiday treats at the ECW’s sale table; and you'll also be able to purchase favorite treats to take home for holiday entertaining. The ECW would remind you that the Cookie Sale helps fund their scholarships to graduating seniors.
Please remember to drop off your homemade favorites when you can today.
Wreath Sale – as of this writing, there are 20 beautiful wreaths available for sale. You can view them, and ogle the pre-sold wreaths, in the rectory garage which has been transformed into a beautiful "wreath-boutique.". Check it out!
Gift Sales -- I understand that the ECW, the Evening ECW and the Tag Sale Team, will all have gift items for sale. The ECW was assembling theirs in the Guild Room yesterday; it's very clever. I'm quite certain you'll want to check them all out. And be sure that your friends and neighbors do as well!
Proceeds from the Chili Supper will support Guilford Interfaith Volunteers’ Meals-on-Wheels program, making sure our neighbors have a hot daily meal. Reminds me of a line from the Gospel according to Matthew, "...I was hungry and you fed me ..."
Which brings me to the subject of St. Nicholas, whom the Church's remembers every December 6. St. Nicholas was a 4th century Bishop of the city of Myra, then in the Greek portion of what is now Turkey. He is remembered for his concern for people who were sick, hungry, poor and/or oppressed -- and for his presence at the Council of Nicea, the one that gave us the Nicene Creed. And yes, this is the same St. Nicholas about whom Clement Moore wrote in "A Visit from St. Nicholas," better known by its opening lines, "Twas the night before Christmas ..." And, this is the same St. Nicholas whom the Dutch called Sinter Nicklaus, and whom the Coca Cola advertising department would depict as the jolly and rotund, Santa Claus.
If you haven't seen it, there's a very clever "Veggie Tales" video which tells the story of St. Nicholas. A former colleague reports that watching this video is an annual feature of her family's Advent preparation for Christmas. The Rev. Alllison Sandelin Liles also maintains that the video helps re-frame her children's perspective on gifts -- elevating concern for those in need: they'd "... give away all the food in our pantry if I wasn’t around!" Read the rest of her account of the place of St. Nicholas in her family's life, and watch the video by clicking here.
We take a page from the story of St. Nicholas with our concern for keeping our neighbors warm this time of year. We decorate the Mitten Tree with mittens, caps, gloves, and scarves, plus toiletries and candy, for our neighbors served by New Haven's Chapel-on-the-Green. We want to help keep warm folks who live on the margins of plenty in New Haven. Reminds me of another line from Matthew, "...I was naked [against the cold} and you gave me clothing."
"Angels" will again hang under-the-Balcony this year, as visible reminders of Christ Church's historic ministry to help keep our neighbors warm by helping with their heating expenses through the Town's Heating Assistance Program. And yes, this program, started by Christ Church folks, reminds me of something else Jesus could have said, "...I was out of fuel, but you kept my house warm."
Our Sunday School will begin their Advent focus on preparing for the Nativity Pageant on December 8. Sunday Schoolers will be thinking about their roles in this year's Pageant, and Mr. Sullivan will begin rehearsing Christmas Carols with them.
In the meantime, I look forward to sharing in the Tree-Lighting events later today!
In faith and hope,
p.s. The Rectory Forum will be discussing the new movie, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," beginning this Sunday beginning after 9a.m. This movie tells a story from the life of Presbyterian minister and friend of children everywhere, Fred Rogers. We'll use a discussion guide prepared by The United Methodist Church. Feel free to join the discussion even if you haven't seen the movie.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!