I ran across something the other day that warmed my heart. Years ago, I would invite willing Guest Ponderers to share their thoughts or something important from their faith journeys. No need to always hear from me, right?
Larry Gottula, of blessed memory, took me up on that invitation once. It seemed our faith journeys shared a common beginning. Our Lutheran heritage would often come up in our chats after worship or meetings at Cheney UMC. We marveled that we each had been given the Lutheran Book of Prayer when we professed our faith.
I share with you here the scrap of paper Larry handed me one day. Written in his own hand, I knew it held deep meaning. --Pastor Pat
This Advent Prayer was taken from the Lutheran Book of Prayer given to me by my cousin Louise in 1944. --Larry Gottula
An Advent Prayer
O Jesus, my Redeemer and my King, as we celebrate Thy glorious advent on this time of the church year, I, Thy humble servant, open wide my heart to Thee. Cleanse and purify it from all sin and evil desire. So rule over me that I may yield my members as instruments of righteousness to my Lord.
Come with Thy blessing also to our congregation. Give to the pastor faithfulness and grant success to all [her] efforts. Give to all the members [mutual] affection toward one another and a fervent zeal for the spreading of Thy Kingdom of Grace on earth.
Come with the riches of Thy favor to our church. Guard Thy disciples against all error and falsehood and prevent all divisions and heresies. Let Thy Church ever be a shining light to all the world.
Come with Thy gracious visitation to all whom Satan still holds in the bonds of unbelief and sin. And when Thou shalt appear in power and majesty, oh, let this Thy glorious advent be to me a day of rejoicing, that I may lift up my head with gladness because my redemption draweth nigh. Amen. --Lutheran Book of Prayer
Sometimes a little humor can help us get through this busy time of year. Several years ago, I ran across these cute tales. I can’t recall the source, but here’s some humor from some little ones …
Rebecca Jones, of Virginia, says: Whenever anyone asked my 3-year-old granddaughter, Mariah, what she wanted for Christmas, all she’d say was “reading glasses.” Thinking it must be some sort of preschool fashion trend, my daughter bought her a pair with plain glass lenses.
A week later, I picked Mariah up from day care and asked where her glasses were. “I don’t know, Granny,” she replied. “But they don’t work anyway.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I still can’t read,” she sighed.
June Goemer, from Minnesota, overheard a conversation of two boys in the restored one-room schoolhouse at the county fairgrounds. After a long discussion about the hole in the upper right-hand corner of all the old desks, they concluded they must be “pop can holders.”
Carole Robinson, of South Carolina, says: We were babysitting our son’s boys one morning when Gabe, who is 5, turned on the TV. His older brother, Garrett, told him, “You know we can’t watch cartoons. We’re on ‘constriction.’” That led to quite a squabble, and finally I said I’d call their father and ask.
Sure enough, he said they couldn’t watch TV, so we turned it off. Gabe fumed for a few minutes then said, “Nana, he’s your son. Why do you let him tell you what to do?”
Here’s one more … Mary Schrock, from Illinois, relates: My 4-year-old daughter overheard me telling my husband that my family planned to choose names for the Christmas gift exchange by playing bingo. She said she didn’t know how to play bingo, so I told her we’d just have the four youngest kids switch names.
She thought for a moment, then quietly asked, “What’s my name going to be then?” Thanks, God, for laughter! --Pastor Pat
It has been another full week! Two services, back-to-back, remembering the lives of loved ones. Completing week 5 of radiation treatments. Praying that the last two weeks are as good as the first five have been. And it’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas!
What fun it was last Sunday to see our churches transformed by the addition of the Advent wreath, Christmas tree and ornaments, poinsettias, and other special decorations. Much thought, prepar-ation, arranging, and rearranging goes into this transformation. Thank you, dear ones, for beautifying our sacred space.
The season of Advent is a time of preparation … a time to prepare “the way” and prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming. The preparation doesn’t happen overnight, of course. It takes time. Time to imagine how God sees us and if God thinks we’re living according to God’s purposes. Time to remember, make decisions, and do some rearranging if that’s what we think God wants us to do.
A wise soul exclaimed to me once, “You know, we’re never gonna know what God is asking us to do in our daily lives if we’re not even talking to God. And how can we expect to hear God if we’re not listening?” Good point.
Keep the communication lines open. Pray. Take time each day to show your devotion to God. Pick up a daily devotional booklet at church and read it. Give the Holy Spirit a chance to prepare you, transform you, for this season … and for the rest of your life.
God, prepare us to receive your son. Amen. Grace and peace …
Sunday, December 24: Christmas Eve Services
Milligan – 4 PM Fairmont – 6 PM
Christmas Eve is always a special time in the life of the church. This year will be as well. Worship will be geared toward celebrating the birth of Jesus with special music, scripture, and Christmas hymns. My hope is that it will be welcoming and meaningful to all of us, as well as to our family and friends that we bring with us to share in this joyous time. If you have special music or other talents to share, please let me know. I hope you will be able to join us at either worship time on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas! God bless you! --Pastor Pat
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, the song lyrics say. But that’s not our reality this year. At least not yet, if you’re talking about our usual snow on the ground and a crispness in the air that we’re used to in these parts. My goodness! Seventy degrees the end of November? Unheard of in our neck of the woods!
In another respect, it IS beginning to look like Christmas around here. Neighbors are decorating their homes, inside and out. Businesses we frequent started decorating in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Probably because they know how busy it can get the last month of the year.
I suppose that is how it is no matter the type of business one is in. Life seems to “fill up” as we try to fit in one more concert, or Christmas special on TV, or shopping excursion (at the mall or online), or plate of cookies or candy, or Christmas party, or medical appointment, or Christmas card or letter. But I digress.
The Norris household hasn’t done much yet to help it look a lot like Christmas. But we’re thinking about it! Traditionally, we put up lights outside along the roofline, cut and decorate a tree for inside, write and send our Christmas letter to family and friends, do some holiday baking, and try to take in a concert or two. I expect this weekend may make a difference … and move us from thinking about it to actually doing some of it.
For me, it has to FEEL like Christmas before I really get going. What helps? Watching Reba’s Christmas special the other night. Listening to Mannheim Steamroller. Preparing our churches’ Advent letters. Buying another laser light to replace the one stolen from our front yard early last December. Smiling after Mr. Pat mounted the light with security screws that not everyone would be able to remove.
If the truth be told, we are rethinking the Advent preparations we’ve made in the past. And we will continue those traditions that best help us prepare for the Christmas we desperately desire.
Dear Jesus, may your truth be told. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat