“Every midwife knows that not until the womb softens can the child find the opening to be born. Soften the treasure of your heart, my Friend, so that the opening may be discovered and the dark pain you carry may gracefully lead you to the never-ending grace.”
December 18 is Mary Sunday for us and promises to be a lovely liturgy with the celebration of the Magnificat. Our Giving Tree Gifts will be received (wrapped and with the Ornament taped on the outside – please see the stories below); you may choose to participate in the Christmas Tree Decorating Party (thanks to Bill Carmel and Ray Lewis for getting the tree up!) or Bible 365 or learn the Abba Chi Prayer in depth (Seminarian Brenda and Kaleo have just finished the video of our congregation praying the Abba Chi).
Christmas Pageant Service: Members of our Youth Group are helping design and coordinate our Pageant with the children of Peace for our 5:00 pm Christmas Eve Celebration. We will have a Rehearsal on Thursday, December 22 at 6:00 pm.
Christmas Eve Worship Schedule: 5:00 pm Children and Family Worship; 10:00 pm Candlelight and Communion.
Christmas Day – Carols and Communion at 9:30 am.
How fun to celebrate 15+ Birthdays of Gun, Maili and Marlene this past Sunday. What blessed Openings of Compassion they have shared with us over the years!
Gun was delighted to share with us her experiences in Liberia and the ongoing work of Lievstucket (a Swedish Women’s Organization) which has been assisting Immigrant Women for many years. These are the Signs of Hope upon which our world depends. Gun is now off on a journey to Israel. Safe travels.
Please keep in your prayers: Kersti, Nancy, Marlene, Lois, Liu Xiaobo (last year’s Nobel Peace Prize Winner who is still in prison), Leymah Gbowee (this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Winner from Liberia and author of Mighty Be Our Powers), Lisa and all those who pray for us.
Here are some of the background stories of our Giving Tree Gift Families this year whom we are supporting through Shelter, Inc.
Jesse, his sister Rebekka and her 2 daughters Faith and Bianca have just moved into the SJ-II housing program. Jesse is disabled and helps his sister care for the children. The two have been best friends since child hood and have always supported the others efforts to grow. Faith and Bianca are very smart and very artistic. Bianca loves to draw and dance and Faith loves to design clothes and cook or bake. Both girls like to help mom in the kitchen or garden and they are all enjoying their large yard in the new house.
Jenna and her first baby just arrived at our emergency family shelter. Her baby boy is 3 weeks currently and will be almost 3 months old at Christmas time. Mom is 25 years old and adores her baby boy. Joseph is a very kick back calm little baby who rarely cries and is starting to focus on voices that he hears and tracks sounds with his eyes. Mom is very happy to be with SHELTER, Inc. and plans to make the most of her time with us. She has never had a place of her own and has spent most of her life being bounced from one family member to another in 4 month stays. She states that she has never had a place to call home since she was a tiny child and you might think that this kind of upbringing might bring her down, Jenna is one of the most positive people I have seen in a long time.
Lena and her 2 daughters are participants in the family rapid re-housing program. They have come to SI because they had to leave an domestic violence situation. When they left they were not able to take any of their personal belongings. She is very soft spoken and sweet with her 2 daughters. They are incredibly grateful to be in a safe and healthy place for Christmas.
Debisue is a young mother of 2 daughters aged 2 and 3 years old. She is pregnant with her 3rd child a boy she has named Jimmy after his father. Baby Jimmy is due any second literally, Debisue will have the baby within a couple of days and she is so excited to be having a boy after 2 girls. Debisue has taken a break from school in order to have her baby and take some bonding time after his birth. She is a full time college student at Western Career College in Concord with a few months left to earn her Nursing assistant degree and certificate.
I can’t thank all of you enough for the Surprise Birthday Parties after worship and at Jazz on Sunday! It was a most elegant and gracious way to turn 60. I am mindful of a phrase I used in an Advent Homily recently: Time is given to us not to keep a faith we once had, but to acquire a faith we need now. Thank you for your encouragement in my life and faith.
Several of you requested Poet Tomas Transtromer’s (Nobel Prize Winner for Literature this year) poem used this last Sunday.
Inside the huge Roman Cathedral the tourists were confined in the mystery of twilight.
Vaults – mouths gaping wide open – beyond vaults, gave no gaze of the vastness.
Flickering candle flames.
There, the voice of an angel without face embraced me
whispering into my body-being:
“Do not feel ashamed of being human – breathe, bear, be proud of your dignity!
Inside of you, vault upon vault is opening up into eternity.
You will never be ready – and that is as it should be.”
Blinded by my tears I was jostled by the crowd into the sun-drenched piazza
Together with Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mr. Tanaka and Signora Sabatini
….and within them vaults upon vaults beyond vaults were opening – endlessly.
Blessed Advent, Pr. Steve