Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Happy fourth day of Christmas! Our annual Christmas Eve Pageant was marvelous this year! Thank you to all of the children and youth who participated for making the night so special. The pageant is a big undertaking and we are so grateful to the adults in our parish who helped to make the pageant a success:

Rev. Peter Faass, Our Priest
Graham Lanz, Director
Justin Miller, Music Director
Cathy Wolford, Asst. Music Director
Erin Pawlak, Costumes
Melissa Gleeson, Lunches

Thank you also to all of the parents and members of the congregation who helped serve food and guide sheep, angels, and wise men this year!

Here are some pictures of our Pageant for you to enjoy!

Everyone loves to say hello to the donkey
 before he has his big moment leading
 Mary and Joseph down the aisle.
 Dwayne (human) and Herbie (camel) are
honorary members of our congregation!

We love seeing the animals each Christmas!
We were blessed with many animals of our own this year!
The Star leads the way!
Angels prepare!
Shepherd and cow ready to go!
Our wonderful narrators take their places!

The congregation gathers!
Away in the Manger.
Mary, Jesus, and Joseph look on as we celebrate Communion.
The Junior Choir sang beautifully this year!

May the wonder and joy of Christmas Day continue to grow in you, and may God bless you in this Holy Season!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent and Christmas at Home

In this season of Advent is there a feeling of peace in your home? If not, you are not alone! This is such a busy time of year, and with so much to do it can be hard to create that quiet sense of expectancy and joy that Advent offers. And yet, with Christmas just around the corner, now is the perfect time to cultivate spiritual moments with your family.

My Mom is a deeply spiritual person, and has always had a gift for sharing the spirit of God with others. Looking back on my childhood, I'm amazed at the way that she juggled her many tasks, and still made herself present and available to my brother and me. She always seemed to find joy in each moment (she still does!!). And somehow she did all this without me noticing her effort!

Mom also had a special gift for creating moments of quiet peace and joy in our home around the holidays. I remember Sunday evening "services" we held as a family, praying and lighting our Advent wreath, choosing charities for our Christmas donations, and many evenings sitting together by our tree. Somehow in the midst of Christmas craziness Mom created moments where we could experience the wonder of Jesus and love of God as a family.

As an adult, I realize what a special Mom I have, and just how difficult it is celebrate Advent and Christmas at home. I read a lovely blog called The Magic Onions which often helps me to remember the joy of the present moment. Recently on the blog, the post Creating a Christmas Mood from another blog called Waldorf in the Home was recommended. I enjoyed reading this article so much that I wanted to pass it on to you.

The author, Esther Leisher tells us that creating a Christmas mood at home begins with preparing ourselves. This is something my mother knew well! Children are sensitive to our feelings, and I've noticed how quickly my anxiety and my excitement can pass through the house. This article is a great reminder that having a peaceful and open spirit in the holidays can help to create an atmosphere where contentment and joy can dwell.

Esther's suggestion that we create a dramatic moment for Christmas is such a good one, and again reminds me of so many special moments from my childhood. I loved hearing about the beautiful candle lighting ritual Esther created for her family and how it evolved as her children grew.

If you would like to learn more, I encourage you to read Creating a Christmas Mood and look for insights and ideas that can help you create spiritual moments in your own family. It doesn't have to be difficult! Simple things like gathering around the tree in the evening, lighting candles, singing songs, reading from the Bible, and praying together can awaken your family to God's presence! Make a plan and give it a try!

Many blessings to you and your family this Advent!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Fettuccia

How can we begin to grasp the History of the Kingdom of God? In November in the True Vine Atrium we gathered together for a work called the Fettuccia which tells us about three great moments in God's Kingdom - creation, redemption, and parousia. The work represents billions of years with a long thin grosgrain ribbon. Each ridge on the ribbon represents about 1000 years.

As we unroll the ribbon we ponder creation - the great and loving act of God preparing the earth, plants, animals, and people. We remember redemption - God sending Jesus to live among us, and his life of compassion, his death and his resurrection. And finally we consider parousia - that great moment still to come when Christ will return and God will be all in all.

In our Church, this ribbon stretches from one end of the building to the other - travelling from the Good Shepherd Room, through the center staircase and front hall, down the length of the center aisle of the Church and ending at the altar. This is an impressionistic lesson which allows us to "see" all those years - we peer from one end of the ribbon to the other and walk its length time and time again to identify moments in the History of the Kingdom of God.

This material is very satisfying to the children, and it creates a frame of reference for so many of the works we have done and will do in the future in the atrium. It brings together science and theology, and integrates them into a seamless reality for the children.

I love the way that this work gently draws us into moral questions. The final portion of the ribbon is the history yet to be written, which will end in parousia. Who is writing these pages of the History of the Kingdom of God? We are! So how can our lives help to increase the light of Christ in the world? This is a great question to ponder!

This lesson helps us to contemplate the vast history of the Kingdom with wonder and humility and hold it in tension with the fact that we matter! We are part of this great history and with our choices we can help to bring our world closer to the Kingdom that God desires.