It has been a few years since I have sent out Christmas Cards in earnest. With the rise in the price of stamps, the convenience of social media, and the decline in Christmas Card exchange just in general, it seemed as though there were better ways to share a Christmas greeting than pen, paper, snail mail, and gummy envelopes.
This year, however, I decided to renew this pre-facebook tradition. For there are some things that facebook simply cannot do, and one important thing it lacks is the personal touch. And this year, the personal touch is what I wanted. A status update declaring my Christmas wishes to friends and family was not going to be enough.
Our congregation has worked so hard this year. We are a congregation in renewal and that means we are energized and active and making changes. The downside of all this activity is that it is exhausting. Sometimes you need to take a breath and enjoy the sacred space you have worked so hard to make. Sometimes you need a friendly hand on your shoulder to remind you that you are loved.
So. I sat down with all the trimmings of 1983: disposable pen, laser print cardstock, stick and peel labels, and began my notes. Over this last week, one after another I wrote the cards. Some with few words, some with more. For each card I read the names of those I wanted to wish a ‘Merry Christmas’ to and I inked the inside with blessing.
I had wanted to reconnect with the personal. I wanted to spend a moment on each and every single person on my list, I wanted a moment to say ‘blessings’ and ‘thanks.’ I did just that. But what I also discovered was that each card became a prayer as I wrote. As I read each name, applied each label, and folded everything together, I had the opportunity to lift a special prayer for each person and family that I knew. My heart knew each one, and the prayers overflowed.
Perhaps we should all return to this ‘old fashioned’ Christmas card tradition–at least often enough to remind us all what it once offered. Perhaps as the Japanese fold the paper cranes to indicate and form a blessing, perhaps we in our own way created a way to fold paper together to denote our own desire to offer blessing and a word of care. Certainly this year it worked like that for me. With each card and all together, the work became a Christmas litany of love.
Christ is coming! Blessings to you all as we await this most precious and holy day to come.
“And I saw more than ever that the Gospel is in truth but one great promise from the beginning of it to the end.” – John Wesley in his Journal, June 4, 1738
Greetings and Merry Christmas!
We are headed into yet another Christmas season, the time of year when we have the opportunity to set aside all that distracts us from the Spirit of the Holy within us. It is the beginning! And we can, even standing in a busy shopping line, close our eyes a little bit and listen for the angel choirs above. Take a moment of peace and imagine the humble manger where Mary will place the infant Jesus, that little baby, our Christ.
And now that your eyes are closed and the sweet notes above you are warming your heart let me say this, too:
You have permission to be imperfect this Christmas. You have permission to lose your temper, cry in grief or sorrow, and lament the busy scheduling. The holy days of Christmas come to us in the midst of our real lives. This means they come with stress and sometimes worry or heartache. This is okay. Close your eyes. Listen for the angels, no matter how stressed you are, the angels can reach you.
You also have permission to be joyful and content. You also have permission to simply be happy, to love, sing, and even dance! You have permission to take an extra moment to enjoy your tea or coffee; to make an extra big pot of cocoa to share with the neighbors; to sit, pray, love, snuggle up, and reflect on this most holy of holidays, the birth of the child we humans never dreamed of! This is the child who opened our hearts to the king-dom of God. Be-cause, to again quote John Wesley, “…the more holy we are upon earth the more happy we must be.”
This year our Christmas theme as we celebrate Advent and Christmas at the church is ‘Christmas of Grace.’ We will tell the Christmas Story, complete with shepherds, angels, and gingerbread, and we will also talk about what it means to us have ‘Grace.’
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, declared that the Grace of God is a kind of Love that is always with us. He explains how we are, all of us, wanted and loved and gifted and created by God. How amazing is that!
We will explore what this ‘Grace’ means to each one of us at Christmas time. And we will celebrate the Grace in a way that especially reminds us of Wesley and his life and family, so that we can all draw together—a hometown remade—as a people of faith.
We have a number of Advent activities planned, so please consider our home your home. We will be making gingerbread houses, celebrating with special music, a children’s play, a youth play, a Christ-mas auction, caroling before service on Sunday, a musical concert, and Messy Church! You belong here in the peace of Christ!
Christ is coming! You have permission to encounter the holy this Christmas and in all the days leading to it.
Be very, very blessed.