As I write this message, the clouds have parted, and the winter sun is streaming through the windows. Cassie has found herself a spot in the sun. And I am reminded that when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are celebrating God's gift of new light in the midst of this world's darkness. Our Christmas celebrations aim to orient our hearts towards the divine light so that the love of God may be born anew in us.
Our celebrations will begin on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24th, with our Sunday School's Nativity Pageant, at 4:30 p.m.; the Sunday School gave us a preview on Sunday by singing "Mary's Song," and it was splendid! The Youth Ensemble of strings and I'm-not-quite-sure-what-else will also help lead the music; we are richly blessed to have so many talented young musicians among us!
A special reminder to Pageant Players -- and their parents(!): The Pageant Dress Rehearsal begins in the Parish Hall on Saturday morning at 10a.m.
Our next Christmas Eve celebration of Jesus' birth wilI be the Candlelight Service at 10 p.m. Our Parish Choir will be joined by harp and strings in leading the inspiring music of the evening. If you need a musical pick-me-up before (or after) 10p.m. Christmas Eve, check out the audio recording of the Choir-led service of Advent Lessons & Carols. You can find it towards the bottom of the parish home page, by going to www.christchurchguilford.org
On Christmas Day, our 10a.m. service will continue our celebration of Jesus' birth with organ, carols, and will include special Christmas prayers for communion -- as will both services on Christmas Eve.
As we gather to celebrate Jesus' birth, let us remember that this "Inn" welcomes everyone who seeks to gather here! So let us be especially aware of visitors, and offer any help they may need, e.g. which book to use, or where to find a restroom, or whether they are welcome at the communion rail. The answer at Christ Church is Yes! Just look at Jesus' gesture of invitation in the window over the altar.
The New Christ Church Cookbook arrived this week, just in time to be a unique Christmas hostess gift! The book is filled with fellow parishioners' favorite recipes, and has David Moore's handsome watercolor image of our building on the cover. You can obtain copies for yourself, friends and family in the Rectory entry hall, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., for $10 each. Special thanks to Rose Robinson for organizing this book!
In their Christmas Letter, our Bishops, +Ian Douglas, and +Laura Ahrens, remind us that our Christmas celebrations illumine our lives for a purpose: so that we may bear Christ's light and love into the world. They write, "From the peace of the manger, Jesus calls us to move with him, bringing his light into a world of fear and hurt." Read their whole letter here.
Aleppo, Berlin, Newtown, Orlando: the world Jesus came to redeem, is darkened by fear and violence. Unfortunately the specter of that ugly darkness has come to our Shoreline as well. Some of our neighbors have been taunted and threatened by hateful actions. How far this is from the compassion taught by all the world's major religions! Because light in the midst of darkness is proclaimed by the traditions we represent, twelve clergy of Guilford, North Guilford, Madison and North Madison, including YFNR, have sent a letter to local papers calling on all our Shoreline neighbors to "kindle light!" Some papers may edit the letter; you can read it as submitted immediately below this blog post.
To paraphrase the Advent Blessing:
May the Son of Righteous shine up us all,
and scatter the darkness from all our paths!
In faith and hope,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Rector
P.S. Our Mitten Tree provides a hands-on way to reach out with Christ's love to our neighbors. Please help decorate the Tree with new, or as-good-as-new, gloves, mittens, scarves, or caps; and/or help decorate the Tree's skirt with travel-size toiletries or other goodies. Thank you for the thoughtfulness and care already on display! Your gifts will go to our neighbors served by the Chapel on the Green in New Haven.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!