First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua

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November 2011

Enough for Everyone, For the Holidays

As Christmas comes closer, we face many shopping and scheduling choices. For many of us, these decisions are overwhelming. In addition to the pressures to buy and to prepare, Christians have to make spiritual choices. On the one hand, we want to observe Advent and wait for the Christ Child. On the other, we feel we must shop and wrap and bake and run ourselves ragged, decorating trees, rooms and front yards. Door-buster deals, like those advertised in newspaper inserts, seem to save us money. It can be fun to experience a shopping event like "Black Friday." But seasonal sale events often come at a high personal cost. Taking advantage of these sales may mean you must endure short nights with little sleep, heavy traffic in bad weather, long lines and otherwise avoidable stress. Store employees bear these costs, too. That's why my family will be aiming for a simpler celebration of Christmas this year.

This December, consider a different approach to the holidays. Enjoy the weekends relaxing at home, listening to, photographing, and hugging your loved ones. Attend worship with us each Sunday, in order to thank God for the abundance in your life. Greet church members who are home for the holidays. Enjoy a splendid Christmas cantata, at which we will all sing carols of joy and hear arrangements of familiar yuletide songs sung by the Choir, on December 24 at 7:30 p.m. (A traditional Christmas Eve service, with sermons for adults and children, will take place at 5:30 p.m.) If Christmas promises to be a sad time for you this year, come to our Blue Christmas service on December 23 at 7:30 p.m. to hear a comforting sermon, to mourn your losses, and to meet others at the fellowship time afterward. And on Christmas morning, come to our Christmas carol sing-along scheduled for 10:00 a.m., with Dr. Dan Kramlich accompanying us on the clavinova.

Decide, as a family, how you want to celebrate Christmas. What traditions are important to everyone, and, on the other hand, which ones take too much extra time? Consider letting go of unessential things in order to make room for family relaxation. Tell funny family stories; get out the old photo albums and baby videos. Make simple dishes and write down the recipes so they can become an annual tradition. Cook from scratch as much as possible, and make preparing meals a fun activity for the whole family.

God's vision, as expressed in Deuteronomy 8, is one in which every person has enough in order to live and thrive, and creation is cared for. As Moses told the new generation of Israelites before they crossed over the Jordan, "Do not say to yourself, 'My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.' But remember the Lord, your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, so that He may confirm His covenant that He swore to your ancestors.." God gives us an abundant life, but this does not mean we must lead wasteful lives. We are called to share the plenty we enjoy in this great country. Invite new guests to your home and share God's ministry of hospitality. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will share food and resources with our community, so those who are hungry and cold can be provided for. Our celebrations this year, at the First Presbyterian Church, have extended the love and fellowship of Christ beyond our homes, with gifts of brownie mix, hats, gloves, and mittens. Thank you for your contributions. Christmas is never a one-day event, but is always a continued prayer and a way of life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Pastor Joyce


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