The December Ride

Posted by Ruth Beresford on

My colleague Stephen likened this week to the start of a roller coaster, where we're climbing up the starting hill - on Friday we slip over the crest and swoop down into the excitement of the 64th Green Show and the rest of December. It's a wonderful metaphor for the energy, the joyous thrill of Green Show, Advent, and Christmas in our congregation. For many this is a familiar ride, but each year there are some changes, new twists and turns. For those newer to Christ Church, the thrill of the ride may be exhilarating, while others are hesitant to climb aboard, uncertain of the dizzying effect of December's ride.

But there are two major differences between a roller coaster and Christ Church in December. First, you're not strapped in for the whole ride; you can choose to come or skip a section of the journey. Second, the course is not fully laid out so that all you do is ride along; that makes us consumers of church rather than the creators of church. It takes our investment of time, resources, and skill, our enthusiasm and commitment to carry out the many ministry opportunities this and every month. Even those who can no longer "do" church can pray for Christ Church as we gather and welcome guests each weekend.

Let me share some of the opportunities for ministry this month. You know we start with the Green Show this weekend, Advent I. It's a wonderful way to invite neighbors and friends to visit your church and a joyous way to serve our community through the funds for outreach we raise together. 

Next comes Advent II - our fellowship ministry gathers us to go caroling on Friday evening, and Lynne Jensen and her team transform our chapel into Advent's stations for prayer, suitable for all ages. The theme this year is "Come, Wait, Get Ready, and Watch - a Journey to Bethlehem." The beauty of these prayer stations is that you can give a few minutes or a full hour. Our new bishop is consecrated on Saturday in Dover. He will be present with us on Sunday, December 10 at the 5 PM service of Advent Lessons & Carols, along with three of our Outreach partners (Lucinda Ross, St. Michael's School & Nursery; Kim Eppeheimer, Friendship House; and Arreon Harley, Choir School of Delaware) to read the scriptures as the Christ Church Choir offers the carols.

Advent III is full of children - they gather on Saturday to costume and rehearse the Christmas pageant and then offer it to the community at 5 PM on Sunday, December 17, under the direction of Sandy Durgin. Like other Advent events, the pageant is a gift for all ages and to all our neighbors. Our week for the children and parents of Family Promise begins that Sunday evening - members are sought to support this ministry of hospitality and care for those experiencing homelessness - really a perfect way to prepare for Christ's coming.

In the days drawing Advent to a close, we offer a service of gentle prayer for those who are grieving, those for whom the holidays are harder. We call it "The Longest Night" because it's held on the Winter Solstice, December 21 at 7 PM.

December 24 has some new twists and turns. Though that Sunday is Advent IV, it's also Christmas Eve, when we offer five services of worship to the community. Sunday morning will be quiet without our usual services. Services with Holy Communion begin at 2 PM at the crèche service and continue with a service in the church and another in the chapel at 4 PM. This year the 6 PM service will be Christmas Lessons & Carols without communion. The last communion service of Christmas Eve is at 10 PM, with a musical offering thirty minutes before. Then on Christmas Day we worship at 10 AM. December's ride ends with our normal schedule for Sunday worship on the 31st, a wonderful close to 2017 and an extension of the Christmas celebration.

All this Advent and Christmas is added on to our regular patterns of worship, service to others, fellowship, and spiritual growth in our small groups, all supported by your prayers and offerings of time, talent, and treasure. Thank you for your joyous giving, your dedicated service, and your invitation to and welcome of those neighbors who come along with us this month.

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