Happy New Year! I pray everyone has had a joyous Christmas season so far. I will be using this space to ask your assistance in helping me and the elders better provide pastoral care for our growing congregation.
The first thing has to do with confidentiality and the prayer requests/prayer chain. If you want to receive prayer requests, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I start the prayer chain and will email requests to all those who request them.
You will find that I include very little specific information in prayer requests. I will not share anyone’s information unless I have that person’s, or that person’s guardian’s permission. God knows the needs; we only need to lift people in prayer. Over sharing information, especially when it is not one’s own, can be embarrassing, but the real issue is that it can destroy relationships and/or cause unintentional harm. I know of a situation in one of my California churches where the information shared about a new baby caused the young mother to become the victim of a stalker. Please, use discretion in sharing.
The second thing has to do with confidentiality in another way. I am concerned that I do not have contact information for many of you for the person I should call in case you are involved in an emergency situation. If you attend church with your emergency contact, that may not be an issue. Many of you live alone and come to church alone. I would like to have an emergency contact for each of you but especially for those who come to church alone. This will be kept confidential and will only be used in case of an emergency.
There will be forms available for you to give me your emergency contact information. On that form there will also be a place for you to give me favorite hymns and Scriptures along with a space for anything else you would like your pastor to know in case of an untimely demise. The best time to think about end of life issues is before those things are needed.
As we enter a new year, I am well aware that we are entering a new era at Hilton Christian Church. I am working to equip the congregational leaders, especially the elders, for what I anticipate being a year of growth for the congregation. As solo pastor, I will not be able to do everything that is needed in a growing congregation so I’m planning ahead and trusting that this church is fully capable of functioning as a congregational church. May it be so.
Grace and peace,
Happy New Year! The first day of Advent is the first day of the Liturgical or Church year. We move into Year A, the one that uses the texts of Matthew to tell the gospel story. We begin again the great cycle of the interactions between God and humanity; the ever changing but always constant changing of the seasons and the years.
By the time you read this, we will have had our cookie baking extravaganza. My inclination is to say it went well. We have also begun our Advent Study. This year we are looking at the theology of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It's not too late to join the study. On December 16 at 6:30 PM we will be viewing one of the classic A Christmas Carol movies.
The Advent season is about preparing room for an infant's arrival. The process is likely to be introspective; is there room for Jesus in your heart? It is also likely to be messy. The world's understanding of Christmas and the Church's understanding are polar opposites. The world wants us to have full calendars, too much food, depleted finances, and feel good gatherings with people we don't even like. All this leads to exhaustion and a depletion of spiritual resources.
The Church has traditionally attempted to align the celebration of Advent and Christmas with the natural season of winter. We aim for introspection and fellowship that doesn't require a great deal of preparation but comes with good homey smells and bright lights. It is the time to celebrate the families we have created and to open wide our hearts to strangers and wonderers among us. A true celebration of Advent and Christmas should have plenty of time for watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, having cookies with one's favorite beverage, and naps.
We will have some special services as we draw near to Christmas. We will, again this year, have a Longest Night of Candle Light and Healing service. This will be Saturday, December 21 at 5:30 in the sanctuary. This year St. Andrews Episcopal will be making this service part of their Advent offerings. If you want to know more about the service, talk to Judy or Ceci.
We will be doing something different this Christmas Eve. We will have our traditional midnight service that starts at 11:00 PM, but we will have a family friendly service that starts at 4:30PM and will have a teddy bear presence. You are welcome to attend both!
I will again be hosting a Christmas morning service. This will be very simple, just a retelling of the Christmas story, singing favorite carols, and communion. This will be followed by social time in the narthex by the sanctuary. I will bring Christmas bread and have coffee ready. Anyone who chooses may bring something they would like to share.Last year this was a very blessed and heartwarming time.
As you begin Advent, it is my prayer that you will find a balance between the World's and the Church's celebration. May you find time for the family parties and naps. And may Christ find welcome in your heart.
Grace and peace,