Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Bethel Family Christmas

This is my Christmas letter to all. You know how some families send out these letters each year catching you up on what is going on with everybody. The Bethel Family is ready for Christmas.

Advent was, as usual, fun and exciting. On the first Sunday we put up Chrismon Tree and wreathes and an Advent Wreath. The music turned to expectation: “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus…” Come indeed. After this, parties started happening everywhere. Classes and circles ate and shared time together.

The next Sunday, we gathered in the Fellowship Hall for our annual Special Education Christmas. We sang carols with our friends and shared an unbelievable feeling that something was afoot among, even among us, that we could not quite get a handle on.

In addition to the other services of Holy Communion and preaching, we had the Children’s Presentation at 10:55: Star of Wonder. Our children outdid themselves, obviously the result of careful planning and rehearsing by Dale Fischer.

Parties and more parties. Then, the next Sunday, the Youth and Adult Choirs blessed us with “Winter Grace”. It was an incredible mix of scripture and music. Everybody came one way and went home another, moved by the experience.

Handbells, wonderful Organ music by Pamela Smithey, and each week we sang more and more carols.

Last Sunday, we turned our hearts to Matthew 1:18-25 and watched and listened and Joseph and Mary worked it out being guided by angels and dreams. Four Sundays of expectation and waiting bring us to the place of celebration.

We had a wonderful staff party and sent letters to all who lost loved ones this year. The first Christmas is always the hardest. It all happens in a flurry of activity as we move closer to Christmas. The color on the altar is purple which reflects the penitence and preparation of Advent. We prayed all the more: “Come, Lord Jesus…” We know, you see, that in God’s good time, Jesus will come again to make things right, to finally put it all to rights.

This last week before Christmas everything settles down around here a bit. A few people drop by to leave us sweets and to be sweet to us. We are so grateful for this family. We get busy getting three weeks of bulletins ready, since the time between now and the new year is short. We get three sermons ready for Christmas Eve, The first Sunday after Christmas, and the first Sunday of the new year.

I usually plan out the preaching and worship for six months in advance; so, last week I put together plans for January. I’ve worked on plans for the other five months but need to pick out hymns and other things. I will get to that first thing after the new year.

We wait around here this time of year for the rest of the pledge cards to come in, although some will not get them in until next year. We wait on the end of the year giving to the church to see where the budget will stand. We pray a lot about that and other things around here, especially this time of year.

We are always able to do what we need to do, what God is calling us to do, because of the faithfulness of so many who love Bethel and love God. I am sure that the end of this year will be no different. We will end the year as we lived it: blessed to be a blessing.

Advent/Christmas in our family at Bethel is like a joyous party. We hold each other close while saying goodbye to others. We welcome new people who add a special grace to the family. We sing and pray and worship and serve. And underneath it all, we feel it. Something is breaking forth again, something that we cannot get hold of- something (God) that gets hold of us.

In a few days, this church will be full of people and we will celebrate the coming of Jesus in a manger. We will behold the glory of the Lord. The thing about Christmas is that God comes in a baby and you just can’t get away from that. Thanks be to God!

Merry Christmas!
Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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