The Christmas season is the most-beautiful time of the church year. While the season of Advent officially lasts until sundown on Christmas Eve, we have to deal with the reality that the culture starts celebrating Christmas as soon as Thanksgiving is over. That means we are doing our part right now to share the beauty, wonder, and fun of the season before the actual day arrives.
We had a fun and very well-attended “Christmas at St. Mark’s” concert last Sunday evening, and this Sunday afternoon at 4:30 we’ll enjoy a “Messiah” sing-along. It will be in our sanctuary, which by the way is decorated for the Christmas season more than the Advent season. Also there will be carol-singing at the Medieval Dinner this Saturday at 5:30.
And then, a week from Saturday, on December 17 at 5:30, we pull out all the stops when we reenact the Matthew and Luke Christmas stories on the front patio as we present the “Living Nativity.” That’s when the beauty and wonder of Christmas really come alive, with angels, shepherds, live animals, the magi, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. The Christmas story is told and accented by lots of carol singing led by the choir. It’s all topped off by a delicious cookie reception in the social hall.
You can help! I know from experience that helping makes it even more fun. Provide some fresh cookies for the reception, be an angel or a shepherd, sing in the choir, assist with the production, or help with setup or clean-up. There are opportunities for everyone. It’s always a popular event, and we have the chance to say “Merry Christmas” to so many of our friends in the surrounding neighborhoods. If you’d like to be part of it in any way, just send me () a quick e-mail with “Living Nativity Help” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you. You don’t even have to write anything in the e-mail!
In church last Sunday we heard from Diana Starnes about Saturday’s house build in Tijuana. She shared that it was an inspiring and enriching success, and many of you have expressed interested in going on the next one! Stay tuned for more news about that in 2017.
There seems to be a lot of interest in Christmas this year, and there certainly is a need for it. Of course, Jeri, George and I are available to you and your family this time of year–as are so many good and gracious leaders at St. Mark’s. If you need help, please know that you are not alone. If you have a question or a problem, or just want to talk, feel free to reach out to any of us.
See you in church!
During this busy time of year, St. Mark’s Taize worship services can help you find inner peace and spirituality. Taize worship offers a spiritual experience focusing on reflection and reconciliation. The service includes quiet prayer, scripture readings, softly chanted songs and meditation. There are no sermons. Through simplicity, Taize can bring calm and hope in facing life’s complexities.
Taize is a monastic community founded in the 1940’s as a place of worship, prayer and communion for all Christians and a refuge for Jews during WWII. Today, the community strives for communion and reconciliation of all Christian denominations and all of humanity.
TAIZE SERVICES WILL BE FROM 6:00 – 6:45 PM
THURSDAYS, DECEMBER 1, 8, 15 AND 22
Prior to each service, a light dinner will be served in the social hall at 5:30pm. All are invited to join us.
For more info, you are welcome to contact Frank Williams, , or Diana Starnes, .
St. Mark’s recognizes that often during the holidays there is grief or sorrow that cannot be erased by carols and parties. To help those who need a quiet place to sit, remember, and reflect we offer the Longest Night Service on the Winter Solstice, December 21. The service begins at 6:30PM. This is a service where people can come to sit, pray, hum or sing quietly, and light candles to acknowledge the darkness and sadness that may be very close.
What do you do for All Saints Day? For most of us, it’s just the day after Halloween.
But think about it. It’s good to have a traditional day each year to remember and pay tribute to those who are gone from us. It gives us time to be grateful for all that has been given to us to make us who we are. We can celebrate the love they shared, the many things they taught, and how they cared for us. We can accept that they were imperfect, and honor their memory anyway.
This Sunday in church we will celebrate All Saints Day. We will read the names of all the members and friends of St. Mark’s gone from us in the past year. And there will be a time during communion when you can light a candle in memory of a loved one. After church, there will be a dedication of new plaques for the memorial garden in front of the sanctuary building.
There is significant psychological and spiritual benefit from being intentional about remembering that not a single one of us has gotten to where we are by ourselves. Each of us has had someone who cares for us, even if in just a small way. Each of us has had some kind of guidance and encouragement along the way–even if our lives have been painful. And each of us has had some combination of friends, teachers, mentors, and those who could simply see us and love us for who we are.
In what ways have people been generous with you–freely giving their time, their hearts, their money?
Generosity is a very powerful force for good. When we are generous we release our usually-ubiquitous need for control and protection. Thus we also let go of what separates us from God’s generous life-living love. We are able to know–if only for a moment–what is most meaningful in this good life that has been generously given to us.
And so we celebrate the Season of Generous Gratitude! See you in church!