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Embodying the Joy of Christmas –By The Rev. Rick Matters
he joy of Christmas is that God has a human form! For the first time since time began, God has a body. It is the body that Mary places tenderly in a manger in Bethlehem. The story of the poor couple, the night sky, and the rustic crib might not sound like a cosmic event of divine proportion, though ancient prophecies, angels, and a virgin mother do hint at such power. But the embodiment of God’s power rests in that manger. The joy of God-in-a-body is that we can truly see how God uses power. We can observe God’s use of power by watching Jesus respond to those in need and stand up to the selfish. We can glimpse the incomprehensible depth of God’s love by listening to Jesus forgive others. We see the joy of Christmas in his absurdly unbelievable self-giving. This is the power of love that brings joy. The cosmic explosion of Christmas joy not only declares that God loves us, but also summons us to embody God in our own lives. As God dwells in Jesus, so God yearns to enter our bodies through the Holy Spirit. In the feeble cry from the manger, we hear God’s desire to animate our love with the joy of Christmas. We embody the joy of Christmas in our life story. Our tale is not likely to contain heroic episodes. We’re more like simple folk on the road to Bethlehem than, for instance, Nelson Mandela or Mother Teresa. Yet the story of how we embody God’s joy unfolds in the everyday contours of our lives, as we surrender our own wishes. For the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
Scripture Lessons for 12/22
Scripture Lessons for 12/24
Scripture Lessons for 12/25
Scripture Lessons for 12/29
Isaiah 7:10-16 Romans 1:1-7 Matthew 1:18-25 Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
Isaiah 52:7-10 Hebrews 1:1-4 John 1:1-14 Psalm 98
Isaiah 9:2-7 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-20 Psalm 96
Isaiah 11:1–9 Matthew 1:18-25 Luke 2:1–7 Luke 2: 8-20 John 1: 1-14
Christmas at All Saints’ December 24 Christmas Eve at 5:00 p.m. Nativity Pageant & Holy Communion Christmas Eve at 10:00 p.m. Carols & Holy Communion December 25 Christmas Day at 10:30 a.m. Festal Eucharist December 29 8:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. Christmas Lessons & Carols with Holy Communion
All Saints’ • The Weekly
For the Joy of It! By The Rev. Rick Matters
How do we internalize and cultivate the Christmas gift of God’s joy? It helps to distinguish between joy and simply feeling happy. Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, based on external circumstances; joy is a deeper experience based on our relationship with God and others. The sources of joy are faith, hope, and love. In the late 1960’s I used the Royal Canadian Air Force exercise manual. It was easy and fun! One exercise involved three steps: stand straight and reach for the sky, bend at the waist and touch your toes, then bend your knees into a squat with arms straight ahead…then reverse the three steps. Cultivating joy is a similar three-step exercise: receive God’s joy, give thanks, and give joy away. Like the RCAF exercise, we can start with any step and go in either direction. Also like any exercise program, the more we practice, the stronger we get and the more fun—or should I say, joy—we have.
Gifts Incarnate By Greg Troxell
When I joined the staff of Young Life I learned the value of “being there”. They called it incarnational ministry. It was the gift of presence, not program; going into the world of youth, rather than inviting them to come to church. Young Life’s philosophy of ministry was fashioned after the ministry of Jesus and his incarnation here, among us, as one of us, with us. Many people today suffer from loneliness. Perhaps because I am so social, I find that I have a high need for feeling connected and close to a few, especially my immediate family. In his book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman helps his readers understand how they best communicate and receive love. The five languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, affection, quality time, and gifts. When I consider the life of Christ through scripture, I see that he often used one love language or another: his presence on this earth, his words of encouragement and hope, his servant leadership, his affection and gift of touch, even his gift of life by the sacrifice of his own. His love is deeply moving, but it is even more challenging to live out such love with those in my life. So I pray, and pray for us all–that we may give and receive an abundance of love this Christmas.
All Saints’ • The Weekly
The Christmas We Have Been Given
By Robin Denney
Join us on December 29 for a joyous liturgy of Christmas Lessons and Carols with Holy Communion at all three services 8:00 a.m. 10:30 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. December 25, 2013 Big Sur, Let us celebrate Christmas together Communion Service at Santa Lucia Mission Outdoor Chapel at 12:00 Noon Christmas Dinner at Santa Lucia Campground 1:00 p.m. A potluck for those who have something to bring, just a Christmas dinner for everyone else
You may have seen the news last week that conflict has broken out in the streets of Juba, the capitol of South Sudan. Hundreds are dead, and the survival of the newest nation in the world is threatened. Throughout their country and around the world, those who love South Sudan are praying mightily for peace. The different Christian denominations in Juba jointly released a powerful statement urging the military and civilians to turn toward peace. It ended, “This year’s Christmas may not be what we expected, but it is what we have been given and we must accept it as it is. As we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, let us remember that God is with us, and pray for the strength and courage to bring peace, reconciliation and healing to our new nation.” Christmas can be an overly hectic time in the United States, and we can begin to lose sight of what it is all about. As we celebrate the coming of the Christchild, let us remember what his coming means to us: that God became flesh and dwelt among us, experienced our pain, and triumphed over sin and death that we might be enslaved no longer. Let us accept the Christmas we have been given, whether joyful or sorrowful, and remember God’s presence with us. I invite you to pray with the Church in South Sudan, that God give us all the strength and courage to bring peace and reconciliation wherever we are.
Sharing the Joy of Christmas By The Rev. Rick Matters
Each year the church reminds the world of the joy that undergirds all of life. For the joy of Christmas is God’s loving purpose. This joy provides a foundation upon which to build our homes and our communities. God’s foundation of joy places our successes and comforts in their proper context. This deeper context makes Christmas all the merrier. The undercurrent of joy can make this season difficult for many who grieve in various ways. However, that foundation is especially important to give a broader context of God’s love at such times of sorrow.
Who is invited? Everyone! Especially those who have lost their homes and the emergency and Þre workers who are helping us live through and overcome this moment. All of us, the community and our friends are all are invited to celebrate Christmas together Shall we gather at the River? Come!
Many years ago it was said “we shall overcome!” We shall...we shall overcome the loss, live in the present and rebuild. We too shall overcome. Santa Lucia Mission and Episcopal Campground is located next door to the Health Center
The church shares this Christmas joy in all seasons. That is why we delight in building mountains of food to give away, collecting toys and clothing for children, or supporting the work of Maurice, our missionary in South Africa. We are currently sharing the joy of Christmas with our neighbors in Big Sur who are traumatized by the recent fire. May you be the joy of Christmas for others.
December 22: Second Christmas pageant rehearsal—Your child is invited to participate in the pageant at 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Anne and Pete Sibley, parents at ASDS, are leading the music, along with Richard Wilson, while church member Amy Buchanan directs the pageant. Children are asked to attend at least one rehearsal (11:45, with pizza!), and to come early on Christmas Eve to prepare for the pageant.
Santa Lucia Mission, Big Sur, is forming a book discussion group in December or early 2014. We will read The Four Elements: Reflections on Nature by the late John O’Donahue, an Irish priest, writer, and poet. We will share our thoughts, as well as the art, photographs, paintings, or poetry that his work inspires in us. We may meet only once a month, allowing for creative time between meetings. Contact Mother Cynthia at 831-667-2310 or 520-260-5158.
December 22: Greening of the church—Join your friends from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. as we clean and decorate the church for Christmas. We’ll enjoy sandwiches and cups of warm soup as we work.
Year-end tax planning opportunities— Parish treasurer Jackie Graham can help you make donations of appreciated stock, or contributions from an IRA. This can be a convenient way to receive a 2013 tax deduction while paying your 2014 pledge without using cash. As with any action having financial and income tax implications, always check with your financial, tax, or legal advisor first, to make sure it is appropriate for you.
Blankets and warm clothing for Big Sur—All the previously donated items have been distributed to grateful recipients, and now many have lost their homes and possessions in the fire. Bring your donations to the church office, and please be generous! Santa Lucia Christmas potluck: come support the people of Big Sur—Santa Lucia Mission will hold a Christmas service at noon on December 25, followed by a Christmas dinner at 1:00 p.m. in the lower campground. The Monterey County Food Bank is contributing three turkeys, and those who are able are bringing potluck dishes to round out the meal. Many people in Big Sur have lost their homes and possessions, including the gifts they bought for each other. Your supportive presence is the best gift, but wrapped presents (tagged for men, women, older or younger girls, or older or younger boys) would be nice. In the midst of sadness and loss, the community will gather in God’s presence to celebrate the good news of Christmas together. Please join us! Crèche sets from around the world—You’re invited to bring interesting crèche sets to display in the baptistry for all to enjoy during Christmas. Please label your set. Pledges for 2014—The vestry thanks all those who have turned in a pledge card. This information helps us prepare for next year in a fiscally responsible manner. If you have not completed a form or communicated your intent, please let us know soon. Pledge cards can be found at the back of the church or in the office.
Highlighted Events and Meetings December 22 Greening of the church December 24 Nativity Pageant, Carols and Holy Communion at 5:00 p.m. December 24 Candlelit Eucharist and choral anthems with Bishop Mary at 10:00 p.m. December 25 Christmas Day Festal Eucharist at 10:30 a.m. December 29 Christmas Lessons and Carols with Holy Communion at all three services January 5 Epiphany Evensong Read more news online at: www.allsaintscarmel.org and join share your own stories of faith, joy and service with us on Facebook, Twitter and GooglePlus.
Pastoral care transportation help—The pastoral care team is putting together a list of potential drivers for members who need help with transportation, such as for a medical appointment. If you’d be willing to occasionally give a fellow member a lift, please contact Susan Stanton via the office. Sunday handout deadline—To be included in next Sunday’s handout, your announcement must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on the preceding Wednesday. Most special parish events are included in the announcements for three weeks before they occur. Contact Andrea Matters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-3090. Pfeiffer Fire—Santa Lucia Mission and Campground remained untouched by the fire. The northern edge of the fire came within 0.7miles of our property. News updates from each day can be viewed on our website, www.allsaintscarmel.org
Wednesday: Join us for Bible study from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. in Grant Hall as we explore Jesus’ life in a chronological study of the Gospels.