The Trisagion - Advent & Christmas Edition 2021

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ADVENT & CHRISTMAS / / 2021 / / ISSUE NUMBER 9

THE TRISAGION A JOINT NEWSLETTER OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCHES OF HUNTINGTON, WV

Advent & Christmas Edition the PROPHECY that love will soon come to earth in the birth of the Christ Child.

An Introduction to Advent The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Advent in the 4th and 5th centuries was a time of preparation for the baptism of new Christians. Christians would spend 40 days in prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration that accompanied the baptism of new believers. Over time, Advent was connected to the coming of Christ. Originally Christians used this term to reference Christ’s second coming, but by the Middle Ages, Advent was connected to Christ’s first coming that we celebrate at Christmas. In the ancient world, various peoples lit fires to mark the turning of the light into winter’s season and to pray for the return of the light. And, as with some other of our cherished traditions, the church Christianized that practice in the lighting of the Advent wreath. This is a fairly recent addition (late 18th or early 19th Century) to the Season of Advent. To us, these candles are signs of the growing light of Christ who is coming again in all fullness into the darkness of our world. Until the dawning of that Great Day, we watch and wait for Christ’s coming into the darkness of our world, lighting candles representing hope in God’s PROMISE, peace in our hearts as we PREPARE, joy as we REJOICE in God’s gift of his Son and

This Advent season is an invitation to set our minds off of the stresses of the year. To take our focus off the frenetic hustle and bustle that can be associated with the Christmas season, which often threatens to produce more worry than delight. Instead, a time to focus on God’s PROMISE to us, to PREPARE our hearts, to REJOICE together in the PROPHECY that is soon to be FULFILLED! The God We Hardly Knew No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God- for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God. Emmanuel. God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God. by Óscar Romero 1


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A Prayer for Advent 1

Advent 1: GOD’S PROMISE

Lord God Almighty, let your promise fill our hearts with hope. Help us to shake off the anxiety, discouragements and distractions that have filled this year and let us pause to remember your promise of the coming of the Messiah. Fill us with holy anticipation as we await the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

DAVID JOHNSTON, Trinity Lay Pastoral Associate The Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16 Psalm 25:1-9 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 Luke 21:25-36 Throughout the story of the Bible, God comes to us time and again as one who makes promises. These promises are sealed through covenants. Covenants are agreements initiated by God through which God establishes a relationship with human beings. God makes a covenant with Noah and promises never to destroy the earth through a great flood again. God makes a covenant with Abraham and promises to make his descendants more numerous than sand or stars. God makes covenant with the people of Israel at Sinai and promises that God will be their God, and they will be God’s people.

Advent 2: PREPARE YE! VIVIAN KOST Parish Life Director, St. John’s

God initiates a relationship with human beings out of God’s free and loving grace. The recipients of God’s promises do not have to do anything to earn them or earn God’s love. Yet the very encounter with God and God’s promises leaves people changed. In each of these covenants, God’s promises require a particular way of life from those who enter into the covenants. In the covenant with Noah, God sets boundaries around food and prohibits murder. In the covenant with Abraham, God requires him to leave home and venture into an unknown land. In the covenant with Israel, God gives the Law, especially the Ten Commandments, as the way by which God’s people will live. The particular way of life does not earn God’s promises, but rather we live a particular way of life in response to who God is and the promises that God makes to us.

The Readings: Baruch 5:1-0 or Malachi 3:1-4 The Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79) Philippians 1:3-11 Luke 3:1-6

“…the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord’” Luke 3:2b-4a

In Jesus Christ, God has promised to save us from sin and death and to one day make God’s home here with us here on earth. We enter these promises through the baptismal covenant. God unites us with Christ through the waters of baptism and claims us as children of God. God’s promises and the baptismal covenant summon us to a particular way of life. The celebrant asks us questions about our faith in God, our continuance in the teaching and practice of the apostles, and our resistance to evil and sin. We are asked about our willingness to serve Christ through proclamation, example of life, serving Christ in others, and striving for justice and peace for all people (see the Book of Common Prayer, pages 304-305). We believe in a God who makes all things new! This work of God begins with each of us and the kind of life we live every day.

As I read this verse, I was reminded of a performance of the musical Godspell I attended at Trinity in the spring of 2018. The musical opened with Sam Fowler, as the lone voice of John the Baptist, slowly walking up the aisle as he hauntingly sings, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” – over and over and OVER again! Before long, he was joined by the rest of the cast, who sang in joyous unison about preparing for the coming of Christ. (If you’re unfamiliar with this musical, you can view the opening from the 1973 movie here: https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSIs1MHdFQY) I find it fitting that even before Jesus began his ministry, people were preparing for his coming. John preached about the arrival of the kingdom and baptized those who were willing. They all wanted Jesus to get there already. In the same way, we are called to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. I think if we pursued Jesus with the same energy and excitement as the disciples in Godspell, the world might just be a better place.

During Advent, we hear again of the promised return of Christ and are summoned to a particular way of life. In the gospel lesson for Advent 1 (Luke 21:25-36), Jesus exhorts us to be alert for his return and pray for strength through troubles. We examine our lives to see if they point toward the promises of God and the kind of life God asks of us. If we see that we are falling short, we need not despair. The God who makes promises to us also promises that God is always ready to receive us again and give us the grace we need to live fully into the promise of God. 2

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Advent 2: PREPARE YE! Continued from page 2

But how do we prepare and keep our spiritual sanity through the often-frenetic chaos that has come to occupy all the space in the lead up to Christmas? I will admit, it takes some selfdiscipline and a willingness to carve out the quiet space necessary to connect with God and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Mother Deborah recently reminded me of a verse from Psalm 131: “But I still my soul and make it quiet like a child upon its mother’s breast; my soul is quieted within me.”

Merciful God, as we wait for the birth of your Son, the Prince of Peace, give us the patience we need. Remind us of the peace we can find when we take time to still ourselves before you as we prepare our hearts to receive the Christ Child. Amen.

This year, let’s all try to find that quiet space alone (or gathered with your family) for a daily 5-10 minute spiritual practice of meditation or simply by lighting your home Advent candles. Carving out a regular schedule to connect with our God can center and calm us during the busyness of the season. It can help us to make a space in our hearts and minds so that we may be truly prepared to receive the Christ Child anew. To that end, we have prepared a daily meditation based on Psalm 131 that can be used to calm our souls and quiet our hearts as we welcome Christ to dwell in us. It can be found on page 7 of this publication or by typing this link in you browser to view a short video of the meditation: https://drive.google.com/file/ d/1rB7eaULiB-UPEV3oqB-sFPjQBm-eyQrV/view? usp=sharing

I chose the Advent theme of rejoicing because I think rejoicing may be a stretch for us this 2nd Christmas of COVID. By rejoicing I don’t mean being swept up in the seasonal cheer. In the Zephaniah reading God is rejoicing over us with gladness, love, exultation and the removal of disaster from among us. I am hoping for a parallel response from myself filled with gladness, love, and exultation. I imagine all of that joined with the peace that comes of letting go the stress of a difficult year. I’m not there yet, but there’s still time.

We wish you peace, stillness and all the blessings of the Season.

A Prayer for Advent 2

The readings for the third Sunday of Advent remind us that rejoicing is part of our preparation for Jesus’ coming. The Zephaniah passage tells us that we are the apple of God’s eye; he will deliver all good things to us. God’s deliverance may not be immediately apparent to us while the COVID infection rate remains stuck in the red. The readings suggest we respond to adversity by holding onto the awareness that we are loved by a great God who exults over us.

Advent 3: AGAIN I SAY REJOICE THE REV. DEBORAH RANKIN The Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-20 The First Song of Isaiah (Isaiah 12:2-6) Philippians 4:4-7 Luke 3:7-18

“The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.” Zephaniah 3 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice…The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Phil. 4: 4-7. Continued in the next column

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In Scripture this knowledge is the ground of peace within ourselves. “The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.” Zeph. 3:15 the passage does not state we will experience disaster no more, it says that we will not fear it. Why? Part of what it means to have a God is to believe in God’s power to save. When we do, we may seek and find peace in any circumstance. This peace does not require bravery or even bravado of us. It comes when we let go. Continued on page 4


THE TRISAGION Advent 4: A TIME FOR PROPHECY THE REV. JIM MORGAN Trinity The Readings: Micah 5:2-5a The Song of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) or Psalm 80:1-7 Hebrews 10:5-10 Luke 1:39-45, [46-55]

Advent is fast becoming the “forgotten” season in our calendar. Decorations for Christmas have been up since before Halloween, and we seem to skip right over the season of Advent. Advent calls us to consider who we are as Christians and how we hear the voices of ancient prophecy. Without question the prophet of this season is Isaiah. Sunday by Sunday during Advent, the prophetic voice of Isaiah speaks are directly to us with surprising and evercontemporary force. Advent is a season of joyful anticipation, and Isaiah invites us to look forward to the coming of the Messiah, to prepare the way of the Lord.

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Advent 3: AGAIN I SAY REJOICE Continued from page 3

Psalm 131 lays it out for us, “O Lord, I am not proud; I have no haughty looks. I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are too hard for me. But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast; my soul is quieted within me. O Israel, wait upon the Lord, from this time forth for evermore.” BCP, p.785. If we quieted ourselves and waited upon the Lord, we might find in ourselves this resolve from Hannah’s Song. “I will trust in him and not be afraid. For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be my Savior.” Isaiah 12:2 If we manage to still our souls and make them quiet in the hectic days of preparation for Christmas, we might find cause for rejoicing…just in time for Christmas. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say Rejoice!” Phil. 4:4

A Prayer for Advent 3 Heavenly Father, as we rejoice at the good news of Jesus’ birth, help us to be mindful that our joy isn’t dependent on what is going on in our life, in our world, or the people that we are with. It doesn’t depend on the gifts we give or the gifts we find under the tree. But it is that joy that flooded the hearts of the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the hosts of heaven, and Mary and Joseph. And is the joy that still has the power to overwhelm our hearts with rejoicing. Amen.

The first Advent prophecy of Isaiah is found in Isaiah 7:14, “… Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The prophet Isaiah eagerly looked forward to the day when the Messiah would come. He, along with all of Israel, was keenly aware of the promise that God made to Moses: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18). The second prophecy describes his dominion: “for unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulders: and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This prophecy does not tell of the miraculous virgin birth, yet it clearly reveals the deity of the “Son” who would be given us. His Continued on page 5

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Advent 4: A TIME FOR PROPHECY

THE TRISAGION CHRISTMAS DAY: THE FULFILLMENT Looking Forward by Looking Back

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government would grow in power. Jesus is the promised Son of God born into the world, who came to make peace available to all people. The peace Jesus gives is not necessarily what people want but it is what we all need. Isaiah was speaking at a time when the people were not following the ways of the covenant. The coming of the Messiah will be a time, not simply for salvation, but also for judgment: can we stand before our risen Lord when he comes in glory and say that we have been good and faithful servants. The voice of Isaiah calls us with his vision of a promise yet to be fulfilled, his words of comfort and hope yet to be realized fully. For Christians it is Christ who “brings good news to the poor, to bind up parts that are broken, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to those in prison.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

TWO MEDITATIONS by Henri J. Nouwen The expectation of Advent is anchored in the event of God’s incarnation. The more I come in touch with what happened in the past, the more I come in touch with what is to come. The Gospel not only reminds me of what took place but also of what will take place. In the contemplation of Christ’s first coming, I can discover the signs of his second coming. By looking back in meditation, I can look forward in expectation. By reflection, I can project; by conserving the memory of Christ’s birth, I can progress to the fulfillment of his kingdom. I am struck by the fact that the prophets speaking about the future of Israel always kept reminding their people of God’s great works in the past. They could look forward with confidence because they could look backward with awe to Yahweh’s great deeds.

The kingdom we long for needs each one of us to hear this good news, to have our hearts healed. We need truly to hear the voice of truth and to proclaim it. As Christ heals us, so he also sends us out to complete the mission he gave to his disciples. The child born in Bethlehem enters a world still very much in need of its Savior. As we continue to hope and pray for the glory of the Kingdom of Christ, we dream with the prophet during Advent for the grace of lasting peace and unfailing love. Fr. Jim +

God came to us because he wanted to join us on the road, to listen to our story, and to help us realize that we are not walking in circles but moving towards the house of peace and joy. This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey. The God of love who gave us life sent his only Son to be with us at all times and in all places, so that we never have to feel lost in our struggles but always can trust that he walks with us.

A Prayer for Advent 4 All-powerful God, we await the fulfillment of the prophecies sent to your people. Lift us in watchful hope to hear the voices that announce his glory. Open our eyes and hearts to your gift of love, that we might share that gift eagerly, lovingly and humbly with others. We ask this through Son, Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

The challenge is to let God be who he wants to be. A part of us clings to our aloneness and does not allow God to touch us where we are most in pain. Often we hide from him precisely those places in ourselves where we feel guilty, ashamed, confused, and lost. Thus we do not give him a chance to be with us where we feel most alone. Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and to let him - whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend - be our companion. Used by permission: Henri Nouwen Society

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A PRAYER FOR CHRISTMAS Henri Nouwen lived an incredible life of ministry in the 20th Century and wrote many powerful books. The Road To Daybreak is a journal of his first year living in the L’Arche community, a shelter for adults with special needs where he spent many of his later years serving some of the most needy souls. It’s an honest, heartbreaking, challenging diary of a man all-consumingly following God’s calling.

On the entry for December 23 (which would have been during his first Christmas season in the community) Nouwen offers a humble Christmas prayer. This is the prayer in full.

O Lord, how hard it is to accept your way. You come to me as a small, powerless child born away from home. You live for me as a stranger in your own land. You die for me as a criminal outside the walls of the city, rejected by your own people, misunderstood by your friends, and feeling abandoned by your God. As I prepare to celebrate your birth, I am trying to feel loved, accepted, and at home in this world, and I am trying to overcome the feelings of alienation and separation which continue to assail me. But I wonder now if my deep sense of homelessness does not bring me closer to you than my occasional feelings of belonging. Where do I truly celebrate your birth: in a cozy home or in an unfamiliar house, among welcoming friends or among unknown strangers, with feelings of well-being or with feelings of loneliness? I do not have to run away from those experiences that are closest to yours. Just as you do not belong to this world, so I do not belong to this world. Every time I feel this way I have an occasion to be grateful and to embrace you better and taste more fully your joy and peace. Come, Lord Jesus, and be with me where I feel poorest. I trust that this is the place where you will find your manger and bring your light. Come, Lord Jesus, come . Amen.

As Nouwen so eloquently challenges us, let’s not run away from the brokenness we so often see and feel during the holidays. Instead, we can find those opportunities to help others feel loved, accepted and at home in this world. In the pages that follow, you can find opportunities for gathering and for giving. Wherever you are today, no matter what your Christmas looks like, may Jesus come and find his manger your heart. 6


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During this season of Advent, we encourage you to make some quiet time each day to allow your body and mind to catch up to your soul as you prepare your heart to receive the Christ Child. Psalm 131 is one of the shortest Psalms but it is a powerful reminder of the importance of taking time for stillness in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this season of preparation.

Daily Advent Meditation on Psalm 131 Blest be the King whose coming is in the name of God! For him let doors be opened, no hearts against him barred! Not robed in royal splendor, in power and pomp comes he; but clad as are the poorest, such his humility!

Hymn 74, Hymnal 1982; Words by Frederico J. Pagura (b. 1923); tr. F. Pratt Green (b. 1903)

1 O Lord, I am not proud;, I have no haughty looks; Let me have too deep a sense of humor to be proud. Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly. Let me realize that when I am humble, I am most human, most truthful, and most worthy of your serious consideration. Amen. (Daniel A. Lord, SJ) 2 I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are too hard for me. Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, page 827) 3 But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast; my soul is quieted within me Calm me, O Lord, as you stilled the storm. Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm. Let all the tumult within me cease. Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace. Father, bless the work that is done, and the work that is to be Father, bless the servants we are, And the servants that we will be.

(if used in the evening, you may add the following) [Thou Lord and God of power, shield and sustain me this night. I will lie down this night with God, and God will lie down with me; I will lie down this night with Christ, and Christ will lie down with me; I will lie down this night with the Spirit, and the Spirit will lie down with me; God and Christ and the Spirit, be lying down with me.] (Traditional Celtic Prayer)

4 O Israel, wait upon the Lord, from this time forth for evermore. O God of light and life, give us hope as we wait for your coming again. When we are tempted to be grateful to have found you while others are lost, send us out into the darkness in search of those who need you most. Amen. (Author unknown) Closing Prayer Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day, We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!' Amen.

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Holiday Service Schedules

St. Peter’s Friday, 12/24 - Christmas Eve

St. John’s

4:00 pm Family Service 11:00 pm Holy Eucharist

Sunday, 12/19 - The Longest Night 6:00 pm

Saturday, 12/25 - Christmas Day

Watch Facebook and the St. John’s website for details

No Services

Friday, 12/24 - Christmas Eve

Sunday, 12/26 - Christmas I

5:00 pm Holy Eucharist 10:30 pm Carols 11:00 pm Festival Eucharist

Return to regular service schedule

Saturday, 12/25 - Christmas Day No Services

Trinity

Sunday, 12/26 - Christmas I

Friday, 12/24 - Christmas Eve

10:30 am Morning Prayer (only)

5:00 pm Holy Eucharist 10:30 pm Carols 11:00 pm Festival Eucharist

Thursday, 1/6 - Epiphany 7:00 pm Service of Light

Saturday, 12/25 - Christmas Day 10:30 Holy Eucharist Sunday, 12/26 - Christmas I 10:30 Holy Eucharist

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ONE MORE CHANCE

SEASON OF PREPARATION

On November 6th, St. Peter’s Outreach held a clothing, food and Naloxone give-away on our parking lot at St. Peter’s. I sat at the Naloxone table for over an hour listening to the stories of the 25-30 people who stopped to pick up supplies, in the time I was there. Huntington Policemen picked it up to treat their dogs after they accidentally sniff too much contraband. Mothers picked it up to save their children and their neighbors. Friends picked it up to rescue friends. Every person had a story about watching someone they cared about dying or nearly dying, right in front of their eyes. They told of loss and narrow escapes. They knew they couldn’t just stand there if there was something they could do. They stopped, got instructions, signed up to receive the prescription medication.

The Christian Associates / Cridlin Food & Clothing Pantry’s 2021 Season of Preparation campaign is currently underway and will continue through Dec. 31, 2021.

They did it to give someone they cared about ONE MORE CHANCE at life. Mother Deborah +

The Season of Preparation’s purpose is to help raise funds for the Pantry to purchase warm winter coats and nutritious food for distribution to the Pantry’s clients.

All clients receiving services from the Pantry are screened and referred by Information & Referral. Our food orders include enough food to provide three meals per day for five days for each family member, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and, when needed, infant essentials such as diapers and wipes, baby shampoo and diaper ointment. We are housed in the basement of Trinity Episcopal Church and are open each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:30—2:00 p.m. We would love for you to stop by to see the Pantry in action! Blessings, Diana VanHorn

IT’S A BOY! He's cute, that little baby Jesus we see lying on a bed of straw in the Nativity scenes in so many Christmas pageants. But if we revisit the story of the Christ Child’s birth from the perspective of those who are struggling in an economy structured by extremes of wealth and poverty, we may see something else. We may begin to see the dirty straw and perhaps even begin to get a whiff of the stable smell. Mary got a visit from the Angel Gabriel to announce that she would have a child. But even with such a special announcement, Mary might have been thinking something along the lines of “Gabe, you’ve got to be kidding me!” Even the Holy Family wasn’t prepared. They needed a little help...and tradition tells us their support that night came from God thru the “kindness of strangers.” The innkeeper made them a place to stay, the angels alerted the shepherds that something special was going on and the shepherds no doubt arrived with congratulations for Mary and Joseph and oohed and aahed over the baby. Later, the Magi stopped by with very special gifts the family didn’t even know they needed.

SPECO UPDATE It's been a busy fall season for St. Peter’s Community Outreach (SPECO) and our partners at Harmony House and Huntington Addiction and Wellness Center (HAWC). We SPREAD THE WARMTH with a blanket drive with drop off points at five local businesses and partnered with HAWC to collect SHOES FOR CREWS. This community appeal provides work shoes for those re -entering the workplace. The shoes (and boots) donated will be supply long lasting shoes geared toward the recipient’s particular field of employment. Our community-wide COAT DRIVE has been an overwhelming success! As of this writing, we've received 913 adult-sized coats, and we are expecting more this weekend and in the coming weeks when several locations finalize their collections. This is the 12th annual coat drive, and we're simply amazed at how you've responded to our pleas for help! In addition to having coats Continued on page 10

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For those who have experienced loss, setbacks or depression, the holidays can be a particularly painful time, stirring up grief in acute ways. As a result, churches around the world have adopted the practice of having a “Longest Night” service (sometimes called “Blue Christmas”)during the Advent season. This year, St. John’s will offer this Ecumenical service on Sunday, December 18th at 6:00.

SPECO Update

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organized for our HERD FOR THE HOMELESS giveaway next week, we've stocked our closet for needs that arise throughout the winter and shared with our partnering agencies - Huntington City Mission, Recovery Point, ReBuild, LifeHouse, St. Peter's Episcopal Community Outreach, and the Homeless Veteran's Resource Center. We've reached out to other partners and will share as long as we have some to give. Thank you for donating and for tucking a little note of encouragement and blessing in the coat pockets. Our goal is to distribute dignity and warmth while also reminding the coat recipients they are valued and loved.

This quiet evening will offer space for prayer, reflection, and remembrance amidst the holiday hustle and bustle. In this pandemic season of life, grief and loss are magnified and nearly universal, and we hope that hope of the coming of Chirst and our worship together will provide a space of calm, quiet, and healing.

It’s a Boy! There are many families today who struggle to clothe, feed and diaper their newborns and young children. Gabriel Project at St. John’s is here to help. God works through our volunteers and your donations to make their lives a little brighter, a little safer and a little more secure – and there are plenty of oohs and aahs for their children! There is no lengthy application process to become a Gabriel Project partner family and there are no judgments. Families need only ask for help. Over the last two years, the need has increased tremendously. Even with careful shopping and donated goods, we spend over $1000 per month to keep our pantry stocked. Your donations are vital to continue meeting this need in our community. We have recently started to see an encouraging trend. While we are distributing more supplies than we have in the past, it seems that most families are needing assistance for a shorter period – just long enough to get back on their feet.

This year’s Christmas program at St. Peter’s will be a four-scene walk through event in our community room. Imagine walking through a town looking for a place to stay and signing a census book. Watching as the angels appear to the shepherds. Maybe getting a glimpse at the wise kings and queens as they prepare to follow the star. And finally, you will arrive at the Manger. The real reason for the season.

Be an ‘angel’ and tell someone in need about Gabriel Project…Be a ‘shepherd’ and come volunteer…Be a ‘Magi’ and provide a gift for these special babies. Wishing you all the blessings of Christmas.

We are able to put clear shower curtains up to protect our youth from the visitors that will take the journey listed above. The goal is to be as safe as possible while still providing a way to showcase this special time of year. If your child would like to participate but hasn’t signed up yet, please contact Sue Williams or the St. Peter’s Office. The Christmas program is scheduled for the weekend before Christmas. Check the St. Peter’s Facebook page for date and time details.

The Gabriel Project at St. John’s

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Kids Christmas Corner

THE TRISAGION

Simon was a small plastic figurine who could be placed in any corner whatsoever of the Christmas Nativity scene. He was born in a huge factory and wasn’t very traditional, which is why he always ended up a long way from the stable, filling just any old space or being nibbled by the children of the house. Nonetheless, he loved the Baby Jesus, who looked and smiled at him every day from his crib. His only dream was that one year they would put him near the crib.

One night before Christmas, Mary gathered everyone together. “We need your help. Baby Jesus has had to go away. Somebody has to stand in for him until he comes back.” “I’ll do it”, said a lovely little angel. “I don’t think it will be too hard to play the role of a baby.” That little angel took up its place in the manger and another one had to take its place in the empty spot left. This other angel was replaced by a little shepherd…many of the figurines had to switch places. Simon ended up as a shepherd, much closer to the manger than ever before. Things did not work out. The angel was lovely and did cry like a baby, but it was obvious that it wasn’t Baby Jesus. Joseph had to ask it to leave and they looked for someone else. Once again the figurines switched places and Simon ended up closer still to the manger. The new baby did not play the role of Baby Jesus properly and neither did the many others who were tried throughout the night. Thanks to all the changes, Simon had been moved very close to the manger. He was very excited and helped out with everything he could: brushing the animals, cleaning the stable, fetching water, chatting with the elders, singing with the angels… He did such a good job that when they finally found a good replacement, Mary and Joseph let him stay there, close by. He was the happiest figurine in the whole world, but there was one thing on his mind: when they had chosen the latest replacement, he had been out fetching water and had not seen who it was. Every time he looked, the baby was covered by sheets and, given that nobody seemed to miss the real Baby, Simon secretly hoped it was Jesus who had returned. One day he just couldn’t. While everyone was asleep, he took a peek under the sheets. As he lifted his head out from underneath, a giant tear rolled down his cheek. Mary looked at him lovingly. “He’s not here…” “I know”, said Mary. “There’s no-one there. Jesus’s replacement isn’t here in the manger, Simon. It’s you.” “But I’m just a badly-made figurine.” “You’re not that badly made, if you managed to make no one notice that Jesus wasn’t really here. Look, Simon, you have done what Jesus does best: love everyone so much that they feel truly special. Didn’t you feel the same way when he looked at you every day? Now everyone else gets that same feeling thanks to you.” Simon smiled. “Jesus has asked me to tell you to keep the secret. He is still out looking for replacements like you in all corners of the world, to make it a better place. Would you still like to be the invisible boy in this Nativity?” Of course he did! And that is how Simon joined the long list of people who, just as Jesus wished, celebrate Christmas by making their little world a tiny bit better. Story by Pedro Pablo Sacristan (used by permission)

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NON-PROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE PAID PERMIT #435

c/o St. Peter’s Episcopal Church 2248 Adams Avenue Huntington, WV 25704

THE TRISAGION THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WV The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, Bishop The Rev. Matthew D. Cowden, Bishop Coadjuter Phone: 304.344.3597 On the web: wvdiocese.org/ Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/EpisDioWV

The Rev. Deborah Rankin Priest-in-Charge Cell: 330.671.6469 Email: Deb.rankin2013@gmail.com Lea Perkins Admin Phone: 304.546.1499 On the web: stpeterswv.com/ Follow us on Facebook: Facebook.com/St-Peters-EpiscopalChurch-578162662263293

The Rev. Raymond J. Hage Priest (Ret.) Vivian Kost, Parish Life Dir. Email: office@stjohnshuntingtonwv.org Office Phone: 304.525.9501 Cell: 304.633.1797 On the web: stjohnshuntingtonwv.org/ Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/stjohnshuntington

ST. PETER’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

ST. JOHN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH The Rev. James Morgan Interim Priest Kristi Meadows, Admin. Email: admin@wvtrinitychurch.org Office Phone: 304.529.6084 On the web: wvtrinitychurch.org/ Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/Trinity-EpiscopalChurch-Huntington-WV418519781555069


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