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Weekly Words for the Journey
The Fourth Week of Advent
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2: 1-7)
Familiar words tell a beloved story. It goes on to tell of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, of angels appearing with good news of great joy, of curious travelers making their way to Bethlehem, of Mary treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart.
We are also curious travelers journeying to Bethlehem…to see this thing that is happening, wonder what it means for our lives, wait for love to be born and watch how it comes to pass. This year our waiting and watching have an urgency to them…will it feel like Christmas at all, will our holidays be safe from harm, will the vaccine finally arrive, will relief and comfort come?
We try to hear the words of the angel, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.” We recall the words of an old hymn, “We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord.” We think about our journey through Advent: hope, peace, joy, love. We believe in the promise of Christmas, that Christ comes even as we cancel plans, keep our distance and miss one another. We search for the star of Epiphany and long for the blessing and beginning of a New Year.
This week we gather in spirit for worship on Christmas Eve (a service will be posted by 6:30pm) If you are not able to listen, I hope you are still able to hear the songs and stories in your hearts. On Sunday we will record a service that includes a dramatic dialogue between angel and child. And on January 3rd we will celebrate Communion by sharing bread and juice in our own homes.
Like we did for World Communion, we will individually partake in the Lord’s supper but this time you are invited to provide your own elements for the shared meal…they are symbols so any bread and “wine” will do! I am including a recipe if you’d like to try making your own communion bread; Heidi and her seminary classmates use this bread for their virtual services.
With gratitude for test results and self-quarantine, we rejoice in leading worship once again. And with prayers for all of you, we journey to Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.” Merry Christmas, dear friends. And glory to God in the highest….Pastor Claudine