Marty Kuchma, Senior Pastor
And so we are on the verge of another holiday season, less than a week from Thanksgiving Day and just over a month until Christmas as I write this. If you have been reading my REVerberations articles over the years, I beg your indulgence as I again remind us of the complications of this time of year that has the potential to lift us up and to let us down. Most often, it does some combination of both, maybe even at the very same time.
Might we begin by noting that the decreased amounts of daylight and the restrictions on free movement brought about by longer nights and colder days do indeed have the potential to tamper with our energy levels and our outlook on things. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing that can sometimes be helped by light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication, as well as by engaging in various spiritual practices and seasonal liturgies.
Let us also be mindful that the intensity of expectations about family connections can easily and authentically be met with joy by some even as they are a source of varying degrees of pain and anguish for others whose loved ones have died, or who are otherwise separated or estranged from loved ones, or who cannot identify loved ones with whom they belong in the first place. Such mindfulness does not call us to repress or deny our feelings, only to live with sensitivity to the reality that oth-ers’ experiences may be vastly different than our own.
With all of that in mind, here are some of my hopes for the time immediately ahead:
I hope we will look deeper into this season and get past the pervasive and ubiquitous materialism that has come to represent Christmas. And I hope we will be intentional about pondering deeper meanings.
I hope we will liberate the Spirit of Christmas from a very small portion of the year and instead live with the Spirit of Christmas every day of the year. (Let us not confuse setting the Spirit of Christmas free with starting earlier and earlier in the year with more aggressive marketing of the latest trending gadgets, fancy do-dads, and block-buster sales.)
I hope we will remember those for whom Christmas bears no significance, including people from other noble faith traditions and people with no religious tradition at all. We know that there are an increasing number of people who identity themselves in the latter group. In any case, can we agree that Christmas should not hurt other people or be used to drive a wedge between people or groups?
I hope we will give ourselves all the permission we need to set realistic hopes for what is about to happen and I hope we will find comfort when at least some aspects of reality fall short of our expectations and desires.
I hope we will take and make the time to begin these holidays with a time of thanks for all of the blessings in our lives, and for the fact that we have the opportunity to give thanks at all. It is never too late to celebrate Thanksgiving!
And I hope we will find the peace, love, and joy that are, through it all, still possi-ble as we remember God coming into the world in a new way in the stories of a lit-tle baby, as we take that message to heart, and as we live that message in our daily lives.
Remember that we have a wide and wonderful array of Holiday offerings coming up at St. Paul’s over the next several weeks. On December 8 at 10:45am, in Fellowship Hall, we will have a Holiday Hymn Sing and table conversations about the season. On December 15 at 10:45am, the Sanctuary Choir will inspire us with their annual Christmas Cantata. On Saturday, December 21, we will have our annual Blues Christmas/Homeless Memorial Service in the Sanctuary at 7:00pm. On December 22 at 10:45am, Jo and Wayne will grace us yet again with their Celtic Christmas offering. And on Christmas Eve we will worship in the Sanctuary at 5:30pm and 8:00pm with candle-lighting and caroling during both services and a stellar musical program in between starting at 7:30pm.
Come, take what you need, and give what you can.
And together we will welcome new hope, new light, and a brand new year!