Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with Praise! Give thanks to God and bless God's name. Psalm 100:4

STEDY, January 17, 2018

After returning from a quick trip to visit my family in Maine, Antonio and I sat exhausted, our house still drenched in Christmas. Too tired to start putting away decorations we began listing what we loved about this year’s holiday. We mentioned things like Alipio’s excitement and watching him hug his gifts on Christmas morning. We loved seeing the lights at Hastings Ranch and Christmas Tree Lane, watching “A Christmas Story” and petting a camel who couldn’t stop kissing Antonio. Then we listed things that weren’t so great like feeling yanked physically and emotionally. We didn’t like worrying about what other people were thinking and wondering if we had caused holiday disappointment for them. As usual, I found myself vowing to correct all of that negative stuff for next year. Next year’s Christmas services would be rehearsed and flawless, my gift wrap would be so spectacular the receiver would be loath to tear it apart and finally, any feelings of awkwardness or icky-ness towards anyone encountered at any celebration would be smothered by Oscar quality fakeness, a gel manicure and a fantastic outfit. Despite the fact that these have been my goals for the past 20 plus years of my life, I promised myself this coming Christmas, I would actually do it.

I sat sipping tea I hoped would soothe my burning stomach and stared at our Christmas tree, the ornaments clustered to places within Alipio’s reach. I could see a couple of the ones from before I met Antonio. My cat who passed away a few years ago would gently tap them with her paw. I looked for the delicate capiz ornaments from the Philippines that Antonio and I bought for our first tree together. Fragile and delicate I fear a few have been tossed with trees of years passed. I noticed a few we have gotten as gifts from St. Edmund’s and previous churches and I smile every year remembering people I am blessed to have known. Impossible to miss are the wonderful handmade ones Alipio has made in school every year, glitter, glue decorating a handprint or photo and marking changes I don’t notice until I look back. Then there are a million random, mismatched ornaments that somehow appeared with no back story. Every year they get added to the tree, not because they are beautiful or have meaning but because they were there and it seemed odd to have a tree which is half empty.

Later that day I began the process of taking down our tree. I looked at these ornaments so absent of sentiment and was confronted by my presumption that more stuff says more celebration. I was reminded that like many things, Christmas doesn’t need me to make it pretty. As I collected the very nice but meaningless ornaments into a bag to be donated I thought how empty our tree will be next year. What would less signify to someone who stopped by and saw a tree where you could actually see the tree, a beautifully ironic symbol of temptation, forgiveness and rebirth? What would it signify to someone who stopped by to see Christmas where you could actually see Christmas? What if they saw actual worship rather than an hour-long performance? What does that even look like? This is my challenge to myself and to our church this year. Christ, scripture, worship, the holidays that celebrate our faith don’t need us to make them pretty, in fact when we try we usually make it look rather tacky. Perhaps its time for us to step aside a bit and allow God’s message to be seen.

~ Upcoming Events ~

Sunday, January 21
Team 3 Acolyting
Family Worship
10 am | Chapel

Sunday School
10:30 am | Sunday School Classrooms
Teaching: Rebecca, Antonio and Heather

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Sunday, January 28
Team 4 Acolyting

Family Worship
10 am | Chapel

Sunday School
10:30 am | Sunday School Classrooms

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Sunday, February 4
Team 1 Acolyting

Family Worship
10 am | Chapel

Sunday School
10:30 am | Sunday School Classrooms

Youth Group
5 – 7 pm

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Sunday, February 11
Team 2 Acolyting

Family Worship
10 am | Chapel

Sunday School
10:30 am | Sunday School Classrooms
Teaching: Vicki, Antonio and Heather

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Sunday, February 18
Team 3 Acolyting

Family Worship
10 am | Chapel

Sunday School
10:30 am | Sunday School Classrooms

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Sunday, February 25
Team 4 Acolyting

Family Worship
10 am | Chapel

Sunday School
10:30 am | Sunday School Classrooms