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
Discuss Christmas cards:
Do 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.
This week on our blog:
Andrea 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by Dec. 12.
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