Fr. Harrison's Christmas Letter
On Sunday, our Sunday School gave us a preview of their Nativity Pageant by singing "Mary's Song," and it was splendid! They have been rehearsing during class-time and had a big rehearsal/costume fitting last Saturday morning, The Youth Ensemble of violins, cellos and alto saxophone have also been rehearsing; what a joyful combination!. There's something special about celebrating the birth of Jesus as told, sung and accompanied by our youngsters. The Nativity Pageant Service begins our Christmas celebrations at 4:30p.m. on December 24.
I have just come from our Choir's rehearsal, and they are also preparing music that will inspire. Indeed, the music has inspired more singers to join them in the choir loft. Together, they will lead the singing at our 10p.m.Candlelight Service. (Don't worry, there will be plenty of light for you to read your part!)
On Christmas Day, our 10a.m. service will continue our celebration with organ, carols and soprano solo.
But Christmas will not be unwrapped yet! Not by a long shot! So, on Sunday, December 27, we will hear a sweep of five Christmas readings before communion at 8a.m., and add as many carols to the readings at the 10a.m. service. As noted in the Book of Occasional Services, "A sermon is not traditionally part of this service." (Hurray!) Following the 10a.m. service, a festive Coffee Hour is planned; please bring a treat to share!
Christmas is an occasion for all of us to be certain that everyone who worships with us experiences the hospitality of the Kingdom of God. Remember, St. Paul call us all "ambassadors."
Perhaps there is someone you know, a family member, neighbor or friend, who has said,"Gosh, I'd like to come, but I wouldn't want to take someone else's seat." Please tell them, there's plenty of room in the stable with Jesus, Mary & Joseph, the shepherds, and the rest of us!
Or perhaps, that family member, neighbor or friend, may say, "I just don't think I would feel like I belong." Please tell them, the point of Jesus' Birth is to make it clear to the unlovely -- that would be us humans -- that God loved us enough to become one of us. Or, since I won't be quoting Phillips Brooks in a Christmas sermon this year, you might share this bit from the 19th century preacher who also wrote, "O Little Town of Bethlehem:"
O my dear friends, if your lives are hampered and held down by any self-contempt, by any feeling that human life is low, that to be human is to be something narrow, dry and barren; if any such thought is keeping you from doing broad justice to your selves and to your neighbors, cast it aside this Christmas..... Let the Incarnation with all its inspirations ... possess and fill your life.
To which I can only say, AMEN.
In their Christmas Letter, our Bishops, +Ian Douglas, and +Laura Ahrens, do not use the term "broad justice," but they do write about Jesus modelling for us a "compassionate way." Jesus' way of compassion provides an alternative to the darkness gripping so many headlines, and they invite us to respond in "real and tangible ways."
Merry Christmas to one and all!
In faith and hope,
P.S. Our Mitten Tree provides another way for us to do "broad justice" to our neighbors. Please help decorate the Tree with new, or as-good-as-new, gloves, scarves, hats and/or coats. Thank you for the thoughtfulness and care already on display! The Mitten Tree will remain up through Sunday, January 3; your gifts will go to the Guilford Food Bank for distribution.
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