December 2017 Newsletter
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November 29, 2017
For years I enjoyed watching the television show Mythbusters. If you’re not familiar with it, it was a show that set out to test various myths and urban legends to see whether or not they were plausible or not. Usually there was an explosion or two. I thought for a long time that I’d like to do something similar, but centered around Christmas (and minus the explosions). Because there are a lot of things that are said or sung or depicted about Christmas that just aren’t what we’re actually shown in Scripture. The thing is, I don’t really want to be known as The Pastor Who Ruined Christmas and Made Little Kids Sad. So, what was I to do?
Earlier this year we had pictures taken for a new pictorial directory for church. After we got our picture taken we sat down with the photographer who then set about showing us what our different purchasing options were. One of the options they offer is some digital retouching. They could whiten teeth, eliminate blemishes…basically, make you a slightly more perfect-looking version of you. And that got me thinking about the pictures in general. I don’t know how your family’s session went, but we went into ours with a 1 ½ year old. In my biased opinion, he is a supremely photogenic little man, but he isn’t usually much for cooperating with having his picture taken. And yet, in our pictures, he looks as happy as can be. Why? Because behind the camera the photographer was tossing around a stuffed animal, and he thought it was hilarious. His smile in the picture isn’t fake, it isn’t a lie, but the photo itself doesn’t reveal the whole story. And that gave me an idea.
That idea is what is behind our Sunday ADVENT services this year. Every year we see the “pictures” of Jesus’ birth. But what we see isn’t always the full picture. What we see doesn’t always tell the whole story. And, sometimes, what we see is something of a softened, idealized picture of reality.
My goal this ADVENT, as we take some time Seeing the Fuller Picture, is not in any way to ruin Christmas or spoil your favorite carols. Rather, my goal is to take us “behind the scenes,” looking at what was going on in the lead-up to and surrounding Jesus’ birth. Beyond that, I want to look at how those pictures of Christmas provide previews of events to come later. Like the elements of a great photograph, we’ll look at the Timing of Jesus’ birth, the Staging of where it took place, the Framing of what we see and don’t see, and how some Filters soften and idealize some of what we see. In the process it will hopefully help us appreciate those pictures we have just a little bit more.
I’m excited about what we’re going to be doing, and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too. Please join us not only for those services Sunday mornings, but on Wednesday evenings as well, where we will take a closer look at John’s introduction of Jesus from chapter one of his gospel account.
May God bless you this ADVENT season as you prepare your hearts and your homes to celebrate the birth of our king, Jesus Christ.
**The Thanksgiving Offering was sent through Thrivent for Disaster Relief in the states where the hurricanes hit. Thrivent will match up to 3 million before December 31, 2017.
ADVENT Services will be
held here at
Take a free guided 20-minute
walking tour and experience “The Journey” Mary and Joseph took so many years
ago. This tour features indoor and outdoor scenes with live drama, animals
and singing. “Journeys’ begin inside every 10 minutes between 5:00 – 7:30
PM on Sunday, December 10th. This event is for all ages to
enjoy. Free cookies and hot chocolate will be available. Meals are
also available for purchase between 4:30 – 7:00 PM. For more information,
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church,
Thank you for your donation to the Thanksgiving Food Baskets for our community. With your contribution we were able to provide 80 boxes filled with milk, bread, vegetables, soup, pasta, and a certificate to the meat locker to families in Chenoa, Weston and Meadows.
Chenoa Women’s Club
From Our Parish Nurse Pam Norris
Blood pressure checks will be done after worship on Sunday, December 3rd.
A harried woman and her children were ending their day of holiday shopping. To express her frustration and stress, she stated that whoever created Christmas should be strung up and shot. A bystander brought to her attention that someone had already crucified him. Before you get caught up with your tasks, lists, and expectations, put them into perspective. Ask yourself what you should be celebrating: the hectic, stress-laden, financially burdened holiday season, or the gift of peace and hope.
Even though God gives us all we need for a healthy, happy life, we tend to disturb it by “spending” and “observing” the holiday on human terms. Look at the holiday traps that take up your time. Categorize your holiday tasks as “need to do,” “should do”, “want to do”, and “expected to do”. Which ones really address the Christmas spirit? Just because you are invited to attend an event or have habitually participated in an activity doesn’t mean you have to continue that activity. Prioritize all of your activities. By weeding out those that distract you from the true meaning of Christmas, you will find less stress and more enjoyment from your choices.
ADVENT is a time for hope, peace, joy, and love, not mounds of gifts, chaotic rounds of parties, or copious amounts of food. Consider what has real meaning for you. Is it the Christmas story you heard as a child or its impact on you as an adult? Think about the music of the holiday and hear a stirring rendition of “Joy to the World” or a quiet performance of “Silent Night” displays love and peace in a harried world. Don’t let your commercialism or stress overshadow the gifts of love and sharing that you offer your loved ones. Remember the spirit of Christmas, share your presence with others, reduce your stress, and create meaningful traditions that demonstrate God’s love.