Crossroads December 2018

Christmas Eve Service
A Family Tradition with Crèche, Carols and Candlelight
Monday, December 24 − 7:00 p.m.

There will be nativity tableaux vivants (or living scenes) featuring young folks in the roles of Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men. Choir and congregation will join in many carols. The service will end with a spreading of candlelight throughout the sanctuary. Pastor Trina will give a brief message. The Christmas Joy Offering will be received. This service is a wonderful way to introduce friends and neighbors to the church – and maybe to make a difference in their lives.

Every generous act of giving …is from above.
In the lead up to Christmas, many of us spend time in search of the perfect gift — the gift that communicates to friends and family how much we know and love them. We search our memories for indications of what gift might cause the faces of our loved ones to light up. We scour the stores and shops, hoping to come across the thing that will communicate a depth of love that our words cannot. As important as gifts to loved ones are, we have an opportunity to give gifts that help many people we do not know through the Christmas Joy Offering. These gifts in particular draw us back to the manger and God’s perfect gift to us — Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to live among us, bringing light into darkness, and reconciliation to God and to one another. A perfect gift from a gracious God.

During this Christmas and Advent Season, we celebrate leadership; past, present and future through support of the Christmas Joy Offering. We do so because church leaders greatly impact our lives of faith, walking with us down the path to be more like Jesus. We want those church leaders and their families who find themselves grappling with a critical financial need to have the resources they need which are provided through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions. We also support the offering to help our future leaders in the church and world, like those educated at our Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color. Supporting these students helps the whole church develop leaders who reflect the wideness of God’s intended diversity.

For those supported through the Christmas Joy Offering, this help is truly a gift from above. May our gifts, and the leaders who receive them, point us always to the truth of the one whose birth we celebrate, Jesus Christ — the truly perfect gift. Please give generously.

The Season of Waiting
There are many plans and opportunities for worship during Advent, including particular ways in which many of you are invited to participate.

The Hanging of the Greens and bows will be on December 1 at 10am-12pm in anticipation of all that Advent and Christmas holds for us. Again we have an Advent Wreath at the front of the Chancel and each Sunday different members and families of our congregation will have a turn to light a new candle on the wreath.

Wednesday, December 19 at 7:00 p.m. is the time for our “Longest Night” service.
Similar to Advent services we have offered in the past couple of years, this evening will provide a different perspective and meaningful space during the holiday season, for reflection, prayer, introspection and quiet.

Brenda Flynn is again planning and directing our annual Christmas Eve Tableaux. Letters have gone out to families to recruit participants in the tableaux. Brenda has also put out the call for help with costumes, and for adults to help ‘shepherd’ (aka wrangle) the participants before and during the Tableaux. Rehearsal is scheduled for Sunday, December 23.

Also on December 23, immediately following worship, before tableaux rehearsal, the Trustees will be setting up the stable in the sanctuary for Christmas Eve. They will need and appreciate additional help with this.

The Christmas Eve Service with Tableaux and candle lighting happens on Monday evening, December 24, and is a beloved tradition at BPC.

To round out the month, Mark Vogel will be leading worship on December 30 and be leading us in a service of lessons and carols/hymns.

Fair Trade Holiday Sale

Save the date and get your Christmas gift list ready! On Saturday, December 8th from 10 – 3. You’ll have the opportunity to do your holiday shopping for a good cause. The Mission Group has invited nine not-for-profit vendors to bring their products for sale here at the church. Possible vendors include Equal Exchange, SERRV, Partners in Just Trade, Fair Trade Winds, and Mayan Hands and a range of products will be available including candles, jewelry, scarves, woodwork, embroidery, coffee, tea, and chocolate.

Proceeds will go to mission programs of the church, in addition to supporting the fair trade vendors and artisans who make the products.

Invite your friends and family, and spread the word! We’d love to see a good turnout for this event and will be looking for volunteers to help during the sale on Saturday. If you would like to help with the Holiday Sale, please contact Jane McIninch, (781) 864-9367.

Longest Night Service

“Comfort, comfort my people, says God”

There are many moments in our lives when we need comfort. There are tough times when we yearn for consolation. The suffering people who looked for the long-awaited Messiah were given a hope-filled image of God in the writings of Isaiah. It expresses the belief that no matter what happens to us, God will be there to comfort and support us.

Advent and Christmas can be a painful time for many in need of that reassurance and comfort. The constant refrain on the radio and television, in shopping malls and churches, about the happiness of the season, about getting together with family and friends, reminds many people of what they have lost or have never had. The death of a loved one, whether recent or long ago, the anguish of broken relationships, the insecurity of unemployment, the weariness of ill health, the pain of isolation – all these can make us feel very alone in the midst of the celebrating and spending. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness and concern; we need to know that we are not alone.
We need comfort and encouragement to live the days ahead of us.

For these reasons, we are offering a special meditative Longest Night Service, Wednesday evening December 19, at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

Come out, and join with us in sharing and hearing prayers, scripture, and music that acknowledge that God’s presence is for those who mourn, for those who struggle – and that God’s Word comes to shine light into our darkness. Everyone is welcome.

Clean Water Collection
We have counted the “Clean Water” collection and deposited about $182! Our congregation has a generous heart. During our Sunday school classes we will decide how many jerry cans and water filters we will buy through Presbyterian Giving.

Trustees Report
The fall cleanup finally occurred on November 3rd. We had a reasonable turnout, despite a little rain and wind, and a lot was done to prepare the church and grounds for winter. The fall commuter collection took place on November 13th and 14th. Thanks to Tom Hennings and Ken Dewar for braving the rain and cold respectively. We collected over $3,500 in donations with hopefully more coming in by mail.
The carpets in the Narthex and the double classroom were cleaned and the hallways and Fellowship Hall were cleaned and waxed in September. Try to keep the Narthex carpet clean by wiping your feet on the runner as you enter the church.

All the work on the restrooms are now complete with just a little paint touchup needed in the women’s room. Try to remember to turn off the lights if you are the last to leave the restrooms.

A reminder to all to close and lock any window you open and check that all doors are locked before you leave the church. A special request for parents to lock the playground door when you retrieve your children.

Women’s Bible Study

Women’s Bible Study has started a new study with the Horizons study called “For Everything, A Season: A Study of the Liturgical Calendar”. On December 13, we will be having our Holiday Brunch or Cookie Swap. All women of the church are invited to join us. We meet on Thursday mornings at 9:30. See Marylou Lynn if you have any questions.

Food Pantry Needs
We receive donations for the Food Pantry on the 1st Sunday of each month. The Food Pantry needs donations on a continuing basis. Please consider purchasing some 20 oz. dish detergent, individually wrapped bars of soap or bottles of shampoo. Your help is appreciated. Thank you!

Hanging of the Greens
Saturday, December 1
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Get in the holiday spirit with us! Join the Deacons on the first Saturday of December for the Hanging of the Greens! We will decorate the church for Advent and Christmas. Advent begins on Sunday, December 2!
Coffee & donuts will be provided.

Poinsettias
Last day to order Poinsettias will be Dec 2.
Please give your order form and money to Kathleen Stegall by December 2.
Thank you.

Mitten Drive
We are once again participating in the PJs, Sweatshirt, Mittens and Books Christmas Drive for People Helping People. This is part of the wishes for Christmas. If you would like to participate, see Anne Denier to obtain a card. PJs, Sweatshirts, Mittens and Books are to be dropped off at the church by Dec 9. Do not wrap, just attach the card to the gift. Thank you again for your continued generosity!

Songs for Cameroon
On November 17th, about 80 people from the Presbytery of Boston and from the Eliot Presbyterian Church in Lowell (Presbytery of Northern New England) gathered at the Korean Church of Boston for an afternoon of song and learning about the humanitarian crisis in Southern Cameroons. Seven church groups sang a wide range of music, and we heard an inspiring message from Elder Ruphous Takang of the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Easton. We also watched a video about the deadly and devastating conflict which is ongoing in Southern Cameroons, and the oppression of the people by the government and paramilitary forces there.

We received a special offering at the event, which raised almost $3,750! A combined total of $4,296 was raised from the concert and the offering from the November 12 Presbytery Meeting, held at First Presbyterian Quincy. The offering will go to the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon (PCC) to support ministry and relief efforts for internally displaced persons and refugees from the conflict through a designated mission fund of the Presbyterian Mission Association. If you would like to make a contribution, you may do so directly through PCUSA, by going to https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/e864103/ and clicking on the Give button.

To give by phone, call 800-872-3283. To send a check, please designate E864103 PCC in the “note” portion of the check and mail to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
Many thanks to Korean Church of Boston for hosting, and to the groups and musicians who sang at the concert:
First United Church in Cambridge
Christian Women’s Fellowship Choir of Eliot Presbyterian Church
African Fellowship Choir of Eliot Presbyterian Church
Clinton Presbyterian Church
Young Adult Praise Team of Korean Church of Boston
Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
Fourth Presbyterian Church
Stephanie and David Rodriguez, Clinton Presbyterian Church
Virine Morris, Hyde Park Presbyterian Church

Stay awake, and watch

In the rush of preparations leading up to Christmas, it can be easy to lose focus on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. While the world is full of the hustle and bustle of putting up the lights and decorations, shopping for the “perfect” gift for our loved ones, and baking, baking, baking delicious cookies and holiday treats, the church is in a different season altogether. Advent is a period of waiting, of anticipation, of looking for the coming of the Christ child into our lives once more.

The season of Advent is a reminder that our time is not our own. We like to pretend that it is; that we can manage it efficiently, plan accordingly. That by our sheer determination we can will it to bend to our needs and desires. We strive to turn it back, and for so many reasons. To re-experience time with someone we love. To relive time with someone we’ve lost. To recreate a moment in time we want to remember again or that we wish we had handled differently. We wonder if we can alter time in some way, change the course of time.

The charge to keep awake during this Advent season is not just about waiting and anticipation. It is not just about getting ready or being ready because can you ever be ready for Christ’s coming? Can we ever be ready for God entering into humanity, into our sinfulness and brokenness, into our pain and loss, into our joy, into our love, into our longing?

Ultimately, God’s entering into time disrupts time, displaces time, disorients time. Not always comfortably. Not always helpfully. Not always desirably. And never how or when expectable. Why? Because divinity took on mortality, eternity entered temporality, and love eliminated death. This, my friends, is the meaning of Advent time.

May you find space and time amidst all the preparations of the season to remember that our time is not our own. That God bursts into our lives when we least expect it, even though we have been told to “stay awake, and watch.”

Blessings of the season,

Trina

Proclaiming the Mystery: Advent 2016

So much of life is, indeed, a mystery to us. My Gran had a chronic form of leukemia, with which she had lived and managed quite well for several years. But eventually, the treatments that were available became less effective and then unable to prevent the progression of the disease. We knew that she was dying, and with the help of home hospice services, we were able to keep her comfortably in her own home, where she wanted to be. One afternoon, she was feeling well enough for a visit from her next-door neighbor, who had recently had a little girl. She brought the baby over, and my Gran held her quietly, staring into her sleeping little face. After a while, she whispered, “Isn’t it something? One life ending and a new one just begun.”

Every birth, every new life, is a mystery. And death is a mystery to us as well. And both are a reminder to us of how we are all connected to the mystery that is greater than ourselves. None of us knows how it will all work out. None of us has all the information we would like. Sometimes we don’t have all the information we would like, but we have to make a decision anyway. And in those moments, the best we can do is to step out in faith, like Mary, a young woman faced with carrying that mystery into the world, and trust in the promises of God to catch us.

Mary’s song is one of resistance, of hope, of mercy, of joy. In her reflection on how to live in hope even in the midst of a world filled with pain, Lindsey Anderson writes: “Active Advent waiting, hopeful resistance, shining on means, in the face of that which would destroy, we choose, again and again, to live. And to live fully, to embrace all that it is to be in this wide world. To resist the evil agendas of injustice, greed, fear that seek to steal away our humanity. To reject the lie that to be unaffected or impervious is best; instead we choose to be open to beauty, mystery, risk to the brokenness and suffering of others and so to the redemption that has been seeded into each of us.”

She continues, “There is a power, a light, a resistance in choosing, choosing our humanity, choosing to inhabit our life. In Advent, we live into the reality of our dying selves, knowing that weak and vulnerable, finite form is where the miracle of God’s Love chose to come and do its work.”

We are called to proclaim a mystery. A mystery in which the very heart of God was made manifest in a tiny, fragile baby; born to a young, vulnerable mother; of an occupied and oppressed nation. In the words of Isaiah, the desert shall burst forth with life, and streams of water will flow in the wilderness. “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees,” says Isaiah, “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.” (Isaiah 35:3-4, NRSV)

This Advent season, let us proclaim the mystery of our faith. Let us, like Mary, step out in faith, leave our fears behind, and believe that every word God has said will come true.

Pastor Trina

December 2015 Crossroads

A Family Tradition with Crèche, Carols and Candlelight
Thursday, December 24 − 7:00 p.m.

It’s a long-lived tradition at BPC. There will be nativity tableaux vivants (or living scenes) featuring young folks in the roles of Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men. Choir and congregation will join in many carols. The service will end with a spreading of candlelight throughout the sanctuary. Pastor Mike will give a brief message. The Christmas Joy Offering will be received. This service is a wonderful way to introduce friends and neighbors to the church – and maybe to make a difference in their lives.

Christmas Cards for George
We would like George to have a multitude of Christmas greetings. There will be cards on the table (along with labels) for you to take to send to George for Christmas. He loves to receive mail. Please help to make him smile this holiday season.

Stewardship Report
This offering, one of four special offerings designated by the General Assembly, has been in existence since the 1930s. Half of the offering is used to assist active and retired church workers in times of need. The fund supplies supplemental income for retirees and emergency assistance grants for workers with special financial needs or emergencies. The other half provides scholarships for minority students who would otherwise be unable to attend the racial ethnic schools and colleges supported by the Presbyterian Church (USA).

In order to continue providing this much-needed assistance, the Christmas Joy Offering depends on congregations like ours. These grants show our faithful response to God’s charge to love one another as Christ commanded. Recipients of the grants say as important as the financial assistance was, the knowledge that the church was standing with them in time of need was even more important. As always, the Christmas Eve offering will be used for the Christmas Joy Offering. There will be envelopes in the pews for those unable to attend that service.

Food Pantry Needs
Volunteers needed at the Food Pantry. Can you volunteer a couple hours per week, or biweekly, or monthly? There are many tasks that we need help with, including helping clients to their vehicles with their groceries, organizing, shelving, and so many others. Find out more by calling 781-270-6625, or email: burlingtonpantry@gmail.com, or online:peoplehelpingpeopleinc.org. Thank you!

“Wish Tree” Volunteers Needed
The Wish Tree at the Burlington Mall runs from Nov. 27 to Dec. 16. Families who are currently served by PHP have the opportunity to request gifts, or “wishes” for their children. Our goal is to provide four wishes for each child through high school age. The wishes are printed on cards to be taken by folks willing to provide that gift. When the gift is brought back to the Wish Tree a snowflake goes on the Wish Tree to indicate that wish has been met. The gifts are collected each day and then sorted to be picked up and wrapped by family members on December 21. Our days to staff the table are Tuesday, December 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, December 6 from noon to 6 p.m. There is a signup sheet in Fellowship Hall for folks to indicate when they can take a two hour slot to sit at the table to collect gifts. If you’d like to take a slot, but none are available, please speak to Colette Greco or Linda Roscoe, as subs are sometimes needed. Help is also needed for folks willing to pick up gifts each evening at 9 p.m. and deliver them to the sorting place. If you can help do that, see Linda.

We are in need of volunteers for December 6!

PJ and Underwear Drive
We are once again participating in the PJs and Underwear Christmas Drive for People Helping People. This year we have been asked to provide 30 such items. The specifics are written on the cards. If you have taken a card or cards, please make sure that the gifts match the sizes, styles and departments written on the wish cards. If you bring in any of these items, please do so no later than Sunday, December 13. Label the gift(s) by securely taping the wish cards onto the matching gifts. The gifts are to be unwrapped. Thank you again for your continued generosity!

Poinsettia Sales will be continuing Nov 22, 29 and December 6. Please give your order form and money to Annette Chapman-Adisho or Jackulin David. The offering this year will be to support Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in providing relief to Middle East refugees. Thank you.

ADVENT DINNER

Come usher in the season of Advent with fellowship and singing at our Pot-luck Advent Dinner and Sing-Along on Saturday, December 5th, 5:00 – 8:00. Bring a main dish, side dish, or dessert to share. Also, if possible, bring a pair of new mittens, gloves or hat (child-size or adult) to decorate our mission Christmas tree – we will donate them to People Helping People. Children are welcome! We will have crafts & puzzles for them. Let us know your favorite Christmas carol or song. Sign-up sheets in Fellowship Hall and back of bulletin.

Book Discussion
We are starting a book discussion on Nov 29. It will continue on Dec 13 and 20 after worship service. The book is “Year of Plenty” by Craig L. Goodwin. Snacks will be provided. Books are for sale for $13 and my email is mary.megan.medina@gmail.com phone #979-777-9055 .

Letters have gone out to parents of children in 3rd grade and above for the Christmas Tableaux. Please return them as soon as possible to the box on the table in the narthex or mail them to the church, no later than November 24th. If you did not receive your letter, there are some available on the table in the narthex.

Christmas Music
The carols of Christmas touch our hearts in ways beyond any other music-reminding us of our past, bringing joy to our present, promising hope for our future.
We will be selling the Legacy Christmas CDs again this Advent season. There will be limited copies available. The cost is $15.00 each. These make wonderful Christmas gifts. The offerings this year will be split between Living Waters for the World and our congregation.

November 2015 Crossroads

ADVENT DINNER

Mark December 5th on your calendar. We will be having an Advent (International pot luck) Dinner and Christmas Sing-a-long to enter into the Advent season. It will take place from 5:30 – 8:00 pm. Children are encouraged to attend. There will be activities for the children. We will also be having a mitten and glove tree. So please be sure to bring a pair with you. The Sing-a-long will follow dinner.

Burlington Interfaith Thanksgiving Service
Monday, November 23, 7 pm

The Burlington Interfaith Community will be gathering in thanksgiving at St. Margaret’s this year on Monday, November 23. This longstanding tradition will include leaders and worshipers from Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim faith communities. This joining of religious traditions in Burlington is itself an occasion for gratitude in our broken world – added to the seasonal American holiday which recognizes our Creator’s goodness to us.

The preacher has not been determined at this writing. As usual, an offering will be received for the work of People Helping People.

Deacon’s Corner

We are so happy to report that sisters Caitlin and Kathleen are back in the fold! Here’s to the power of prayers!

The Deacons are readying for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Please note the sign-up sheets in Fellowship Hall let us know if and when you are able to help. On November 22nd, we will be collecting our annual Harvest of Offerings. We will need sorting and transporting items to St. Mark’s after worship. A list of items needed will be published in our church bulletin. Our church will also be participating in People Helping People’s Wish Tree located at the Burlington Mall. Our volunteer times and dates are Tuesday, December 1 between 10 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, December 6 between Noon and 6:00 p.m. Please consider volunteering for an hour slot or more. In addition, we will also help People Helping People with the PJ and underwear drive, Linda Roscoe will have cards with ages and sizes soon.

We also want to thank all of you for your generous contributions to our recent Emergency Fund drive.
Your thoughtful donations will help our church community during difficult times.

Stewardship Report
Sue Hadsell

November is the month we give thanks for what we have and for giving to those who don’t have with our annual harvest offering for the next year. Starting the second week of November, look for documentation that will explain what we plan for the coming year, along with your pledge card and your time and talent questionnaire.

Come Sing With Us!
Nancy Timmerman

All voices are welcome to sing in the BPC Chancel Choir. Regular rehearsal times are 7:30 to 9 pm on Thursdays and 10 to 10:20 am on Sunday mornings during the school year. Regular choir members who are going to miss practice or Sunday morning need to notify the director ahead of time.

The ability to read music is not required. However, for skilled singers who need to miss practice, arrangements can be made to provide the music for individual study. We are a friendly group who sing a variety of musical styles. It should also be noted that, since the choir sings the offertory on communion Sundays and the anthem (before the Word for Children), students in the upper grades can participate, and Sunday School teachers can sometimes participate.

In addition, instrumentalists or not regular members of the choir are encouraged to provide special music (usually during the offertory), as they were during the summer months. This also needs to be coordinated.

Food Pantry Needs
Volunteers needed at the Food Pantry. Can you volunteer a couple hours per week, or biweekly, or monthly? There are many tasks that we need help with, including helping clients to their vehicles with their groceries, organizing, shelving, and so many others. Find out more by calling 781-270-6625, or email: burlingtonpantry@gmail.com, or online:peoplehelpingpeopleinc.org. Thank you!

Women’s Bible Study

Women’s Bible Study meets on Thursday mornings at 9:30. All women of the church are welcome! Our study is titled Encouraging One Another. Please join us! We will be meeting in the front classroom.

We need you
…to drive George to church
…to be a Worship Assistant
…to be a Greeter
Training available for Worship Assistants and Greeters
Please sign up today!

Library News
One new series in our new fiction section is called a “continuity series.” This means that there is an overall story linking the six books but each book is by a different author. In Her Surprise Sister, Violet discovers she has a twin sister named Maddie and the mystery only deepens from there. The series is shelved at the end of the Fiction shelf.
New in nonfiction: Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life.

Safe Child Training
NOV 15 SUNDAY 11:30-2PM (lunch provided).
On behalf of the acting heads of Christian Education, Safe Child Training will be presented after church in the back of the fellowship hall. Anne Boyden, social worker, will describe the elements of child abuse, followed by training on the Safe Child Program at Burlington Presbyterian Church.

Burlington Food Pantry
The Burlington Pantry will be giving all the food for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to over 180 families, including elderly shut-ins and veterans, on Sunday, November 22nd. We hope you will participate in the food collection for this project.

Again this year, the collection and distribution will be at the United Church of Christ, Congregational, on the corner of Bedford and Lexington Streets. Please bring the food you have collected to the UCC church between 12:00 and 1:00 on Sunday, Nov. 22nd. If you have questions about the collection or the delivery, please call Rev. Angela Wells at 781-272-4547.

We are requesting the following specific list of foods for a Thanksgiving dinner. PLEASE ONLY NEW PURCHASES, NO EXPIRED DATES!!!

Stuffing (bag or box)
Cranberry Sauce
Gravy
Chicken Broth
Corn
Cornbread Mix
Mayonnaise

This is a relatively short list – but we need many of each item. Fresh vegetables (potatoes, carrots, green beans, squash, etc.) will be purchased, so if any of you would like to contribute money instead of food items, such donations would be welcome. Checks should be made payable to People Helping People. Rotary will be providing the turkeys again this year. Cub Scout families will be providing pies.

“Wish Tree” Volunteers Needed
Our church has been asked to provide volunteers for the Wish Tree table at the Burlington Mall on 2 days: Tues. Dec 1, 10 am – 5 pm and Sun. Dec 6, 12 pm – 6 pm. There will be a sign-up sheet in Fellowship Hall soon.

Please sign up!!

The “Wish Tree” gives shoppers the opportunity to provide gifts for children in need in Burlington. For more information, see Colette Greco.

Snow for December 15

Hi Friends

As of now, we are not cancelling worship for the morning.  If there is a decision to close, it will be made and posted by 9:00 am.

The Adult Class HAS been called off, since we figure that at best folks are going to be slower getting up and out of their driveways.

If we do go ahead with worship, NO ONE should feel obligated to come, even if you have are scheduled to teach, sing, light candles, do coffee, whatever. We would want no one to feel unsafe in coming to church.  You can always reply to this email, or call the church, if you want to send regrets.

One more note: The gun buy back we helped sponsor in Burlington was more successful than the clergy and police had guessed it would be – at least 15 guns were turned in. There may be coverage on the Channel 4 news at 11.

Advent: A Lovely Restlessness

There’s a loveliness to be found even amidst the hard-sell harriedness of the holiday push. It might be in a light early winter snowfall. It might be in a carol piped above mall shoppers that you hear in a new way. It might be in a smell of baking, or a child’s eager question. It could be in the sanctuary, watching a candle take flame and singing O Come, O Come… or in ancient words that promise the coming of peace in the One we call Our Peace.

Heaven knows we need such moments in times like these.

But if our efforts are directed only toward wrapping ourselves in loveliness, we will have missed our Advent calling. The prophets’ messages of this season direct us toward the coming again of One who was born in a dark stable in an occupied town… and as of this writing, this same land of his birth is exploding with rockets and wails of mourning. He came to a humble family and would grow to associate with folks on the margins of his society… and if we look through Christ-focused eyes we see how the real needs of such persons in our land are unmet, even trampled.

Advent’s hope is heralded through the rough voice of the Baptist, challenging us to prepare the way and to bear fruits worthy of repentance. This we can only do by first looking deep inside, and then deeply at the world around us, and allowing a restlessness to surface. A restlessness with ourselves, and with the conditions of our world that call into question our true readiness for a holy birth among us.

And then we must do something, or some things, even in small ways, to channel this restlessness into actions that help prepare the way – in our hearts, our families, our world.

I recently ran across this prayerful poem by Dom Helder Camara:

Take away the quietness
of a clear conscience,
Press us uncomfortably.
For only thus
that other peace is made,
your peace.

May loveliness, and restlessness, be ours this Advent season.

Peace, Rod