From the Pastor...
I got in my car the other morning to be pleasantly surprised by one of my favorite christmas works on the radio-- Handel's Messiah. The chorus sang, "for unto us a child is born, unto us, a son is given..." I was instantly transported through time to years of Christmases and of hearing this powerful music.
In fact, one of my favorite experiences during Advent was while I was living in Durham, NC. Every Advent the Duke Chapel has an evening where the community is invited to come and sing Handel's Messiah together. Most everyone brings their own music, and the Duke Chapel Choir, an auditioned group of 100+ voices lead the singing from the chancel area and provided a group of incredible soloists. On the front end, it sounds like a bit of chaos-- and probably would be total chaos if it wasn't for the Chapel Choir, helping to lead. It is wonderful, the music is a perfect setting for Isaiah' prophecies, the gothic cathedral is awe-inspiring, and the task of singing with friends and neighbors around you is akin to the heavenly chorus singing around the throne.
I grew up around this music during Advent, but that particular experience made it come alive for me in an unexpected way. The words of the prophet Isaiah or powerful, but put to music they seep down into your soul. The music lifted my spirits and made me long for the anticipated birth of Jesus, in my own heart and for all the world. What tradition do you have that gets you, as they say, "in the Christmas spirit?"
From Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord God will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel. Good news for you and me, for all the world!!
We have a few more traditions left at St. Paul that I hope you will attend. This Sunday, December 21st, after worship will be our packing party for the baskets that will be delivered on Christmas Eve to various businesses. Stay after church and join us in the Fellowship Hall to help! Then, Sunday evening we will enjoy our Christmas Church Potluck and the Children's Impromptu Nativity Play. This is an evening you won't want to miss-- a time of fellowship, fun, and the amazing story of Jesus' birth on that holy night in Bethlehem. Dinner begins at 5:00pm, bring your favorite dish to share! I'm bringing one of my favorite Christmas dishes that my Mom makes-- sweet potato dumplings!
On Christmas Eve we will worship God together with carols, candlelight at communion. The service begins at 5:30pm.
Christ is coming into the world, to be born in our hearts. Is your heart prepared to receive the sign this year?
From our family to yours-- Merry Christmas!