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Preparing Christmas dinner for 225

In the season of Advent we always hear the words anticipation and preparation. We're waiting for the arrival of the newborn Christ and we're making ready a celebration. What comes to mind when you think about your Advent preparations? A list of cards to write, gifts to buy, pageant practices to attend, parties to grace with your presence and all the decorations to adorn both your home and church?

From the time I was 12 until I was out of college, my Advent season was filled with preparation. But it had a twist to it because of my mother. She did-and still does-work for the Knoxville [Tenn.] Inner City Churches United for People. This organization of 12 downtown congregations does different community events throughout the year. Once a year they come together to serve a meal to elderly and disabled people who are alone on Christmas Day. Because of this, Mom's phone starts ringing every November with people signing up to volunteer: some to be servers, some table hosts, some cooks, some greeters, some musicians, and a large number of van and bus drivers to gather all the guests.

I remember riding along with my mother as she visited some of the churches to collect donated gifts. Then we went to stores to collect food donations for the meal. As Christmas grew closer, tables would fill the church fellowship hall to be decorated and set. Once everything was ready the night before Christmas, there was anticipation and excitement because we knew that many guests and volunteers would fill the hall the next day.

On Christmas morning it was time to celebrate. But we didn't rush to the tree to open gifts. Instead we ran to the church to celebrate with 225 guests and 150 volunteers. The gathering of guests was always an astonishing sight as people arrived from many different places by bus, van, car or foot.

The tables filled quickly, and a prayer was said. The meal was what one might expect in their home-turkey, stuffing and all the fixings. There would even be trays of yummy desserts so guests could pick their favorite, whether it be pumpkin pie or chocolate cake.

Santa took the time to stop by and deliver every guest at least a gift or two. After all of our Advent preparation, we were finally able to sing Christmas songs together and celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Correction: The author of our previous e-newsletter, Jennifer Chrien, attends St. John’s College in Santa Fe, N.M.

This week's front page features:

Planting Lutheran seeds in India's soil: P. Solomon Raj uses art to root the gospel in India.

Away with the manger? The message is missing in many Christmas cards today.

Sending greetings, ending hunger: Christmas cards support ELCA World Hunger Appeal.

A lifer by choice: For all prisoners, a lesson of love.

Also: Tend relationships, Hanson urges.

Also: Letters: 'Across the wide Missouri divide.'

Also: Presiding bishop: A centered life
Read these articles on our front page ...

Discuss Christmas cards:

Sarah MitchellDo the Christmas cards you send reflect your faith?

Join author Sarah Mitchell (right) to discuss selecting Christmas cards, and whether the trend is toward standard sentiments such as Seasons Greetings or Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

The conversation begins today and runs through Dec 11.

Join the discussion ...

This week on our blog:

Amber LebermanAndrea Pohlmann weighs in on the Christmas card discussion.

Amber Leberman (right) blogs about music for Advent.

Kathleen Kastilahn writes about Advent devotions.

Julie Sevig says: "Smile, it's Advent!"

Sonia Solomonson blogs about Advent and waiting.

Check out our blog ...

Tell us! Communion age

In the "old days" first communion was tied to the rite of confirmation. Then the age of instruction and first communion was lowered. Today in many of our churches young children - even babies and toddlers - are served communion. "The Use of the Means of Grace," the ELCA's statement on word and sacrament, states that all the baptized are welcome to receive communion. Yet a range of opinions on a proper age exists. Share yours.

Send your response to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org by Dec. 12.

Or respond online ...

Subscribe to The Little Lutheran:

The Little LutheranThe December issue of The Little Lutheran arrives this week.

Don't let the little ones in your life miss another issue! Start the new year off right — with a subscription in their name to The Little Lutheran.
The Little Lutheran helps children 6 and younger learn about God's love for them and the world in which they live. It teaches them about Jesus, their friend and savior.

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For only $15.95 you'll receive 12 issues of The Lutheran magazine in your mailbox. You'll also receive access to back issues' articles since 1996 and unlimited study guide downloads (regularly $3.50 each) at www.thelutheran.org.

(Congregational subscriptions begin at $7.95 and include Web memberships. Call Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, for details about our congregational plans. 800-328-4648.)

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