December 22, 2013

Pastoral Letter

Advent greetings one and all,

This past Sunday, we joined together in truly joyful worship! I am so very, very thankful to the many voices and hands who joined together to help make it all happen, and I am still looking forward to our Christmas Eve worship experiences this Tuesday at 2:00, 5:00, 7.30 and 10:00 p.m.. From the new Advent banners to our music ministries, to our teacher and nursery teams, to our ushers and greeters, to the team who worked to get Fellowship Hall looking great, and to our Celebrations team who hosted the wonderful open house Advent brunch, we have been truly coming together to offer joyful worship to the Lord this whole season long! Thank you and Amen!

Now, how is it going with you this Advent season? A few weeks before Advent started, Pastor Mark invited us to experience and explore the peace of Christ ourselves, and then to share this peace with our community and world. For me, it has been a challenging journey as our world seems to call me not to a place of peace, but a place of "Buy! Buy! Buy!" and "Do! Go! Rush!" Thus, I have had to make some hard choices (or at least choices that go against what the advertising industry would like me to choose) along the way for myself and my family. This year, our family decided to focus on celebrating Sinterklaas (the Dutch tradition of Saint Nicholas), and shared some gifts early in the month. We have an Advent wreath on our dinner table, and are waiting for "Baby Jesus" together, talking mostly about Christmas as a time to celebrate Baby Jesus’ birthday. We have worked (!) to do less and be more. We have chosen cookie baking together over the Christmas shopping trip to the mall. We have chosen fewer gifts and more shared meals. I share my personal journey because I have found it to be hard, but rewarding, and a little more peaceful. How about you?

I also had the opportunity to serve with a LAUMC Christmas Care-oling group last Sunday afternoon. I cannot express how meaningful it was to me, and to those whom we had the blessing to visit. Many times, tears welled up as our group sang carols of old celebrating the “Baby Jesus.” I experienced the peace of Christ that afternoon, and I was able to share it, too. What a blessing to be part of a church family who has invited me to participate in such a journey. My prayer is that you have experienced this, too.

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Melinda