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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Push! Push! Edition


The body is like Mary and each of us has a Jesus inside.
Who is not in labor, holy labor? Every creature is.

See the value of true art when the earth or a soul is in
the mood to create beauty,

for the witness might then for a moment know beyond
any doubt, God is really there within,

so innocently drawing life from us with Her umbilical universe,

though also needing to be born, yes God also needs to be born,

birth from a hand's loving touch, birth from a song breathing
life into this world.

The body is like Mary, and each of us, each of us, has a
Christ within.


You might feel just a little bit more than usual like you are in labor this week, getting ready for the Biggest (or at very least the Second Biggest) week of the year. Hopefully, the worship services you are giving birth to will be born easily and with minimal pain!

As you create/produce/give birth (pick your favorite verb) this week, take a moment to check out RevGal Carol Howard Merritt's Huff Post essay on being a pregnant pastor in advent. She ends it with this hope for all of us: "In this Advent season, may God create something new within us, may God form within us, so that we might sense anticipation and hope as God kicks us, waiting to be born."


As you prepare to for the week ahead, with many extra services of worship for many of us, I invite you to share what moment you are looking forward to the most. Of course, questions or ideas are also welcome in the comments.


This remarkable painting of Mary, Joseph and Jesus found here.

14 comments:

  1. Home from an evening of carol singing at the local aged care village.

    Carols at the church is on 23rd this year, and we are following through a nativity play from TEAR, which has a narrator only option - less rehearsals, in fact I doubt I can get the children together for a rehearsal at all, this being school holidays. We are adding more carols through the play as well as after the play. Advertising has included an invitation to come as an angel or shepherd and join the play, so no idea how it is all going to come together, but it will be fun anyway.

    Sunday 26th we are using a service of carols and readings from Brian Wren's book ' Advent, Christmas and Epiphany ', so that has been sent to the PowerPoint person and the musicians, and the readers lined up.

    So only Christmas to go.
    I had a plan, that was linked with the four weeks of advent on the coming kingdom of God; but now I am not so sure. And I don’t know how to relate that to people who come once a year. Usually on Christmas Day we open up into the hall, because more people come than can fit into the church [ at least double a normal Sunday], and lots of children. So maybe an extended children’s talk this year. Using an idea of asking what is important about Christmas – people answer Mary etc, presents, Santa, food, families, holidays. As long as you start with Mary and Jesus, the other people [representing food etc] stand in front of them, and then all the trimmings mean we can’t see Jesus anymore. I have bits and pieces for people to hold or wear to fit with the story.

    This is getting very long, time for a cuppa I think. Anyone for chamomile tea?

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  2. it's a lovely painting but I'd betcha that Mary was actually on her hands and knees...just sayin'...

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  3. Does anybody have a favourite "alternate" version of the Nativity story? My meditation at the late service is about how The Story is a story for the ages and gains meaning when we change it to fit different contexts.

    THe early service will be all stories--Pippin the Christmas Pig, Luke, Little Drummer Boy

    On Sunday we are going informal. No bulletin, no real structure. Folks will be invited to ask for favourite carols, we will enter into discussion about Christmas memories, maybe some Christmas Story Trivia...bounded with opening and closing prayers.

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  4. pearl- we love that "come as you are" christmas pageant at my church - hope it goes well.

    cr - ha! you are right!

    gord - like your plan. all that comes to mind is a rather horrible touched by an angel episode, but I'll think on it.

    we have lessons and carols on christmas eve, spontaneous pageant on Sunday. I'm not much of a christmas eve sermonizer. seems to me that most people are in it for the music anyway, even more this time of year than others. but favorite service of the year - longest night - tonight, so my energy is headed in that direction.

    that "how do you talk to the people who come once a year" conundrum is sticky, I think. Would love to hear other philosophies on how to handle that one.

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  5. will we be having a thursday night preacher party? just wondering.

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  6. GG- we can sure use this post for that...

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  7. Ask, and you shall receive.
    This is an official RevGalBlogPals announcement! There will be a Little Christmas Eve Preacher Party on Thursday!!! Join us then, and help us drink the egg nog. :-)

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  8. Count me in! And as of this evening I have brand new living room furniture, so you all are invited to come over and curl up in comfort :-)

    We had our Blue Christmas service last night; despite the biggest storm to hit our area in about 10 years, we had almost 40 people--probably half not from our parish--who were glad for the gift of a quieter time to celebrate the Light which the darkness cannot overcome.

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  9. fun extra preacher party!

    RE the artwork, I'll just note that there's already a just-born-baby-jesus on mary's chest, so probably not hands and knees, though she may have just rolled over from that position.... :-)

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  10. Excited about the thursday night preacher party! I really enjoyed our Blue Christmas/Longest Night service last night. I hadn't realized how much I needed to sit in the darkness and silence and hope for light. Christmas Eve is finished except for the sermon/homily. The 26th we're going to have a "regular" service with Christmas carols and a discussion about whether or not Christmas is really "over." Should serve to extend the story . . . or so I hope.

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  11. The Longest Night worship was last night. It was a small crowd, no more than 10, but this is one service I will continue to have no matter how many people we get each each. The ones who come truly need it, and that makes any amount of work worth it. This year was cool because 3 of the 10 were not from our church. They learned about the service through the local funeral home where I left some flyers at a "Grief in the Holidays" workshop they had. Niiiice. At the same time though it made me even more frustrated that the local paper must have overlooked my press release since an announcement didn't make it into the religious news section. I wasn't even looking for an article, just the little free announcement. (Although, shoot, an article would have been nice!)

    Next on the agenda are both Christmas Eve services. Sunday the 26th is Lessons and Carols and that's all ready to go.

    Our family service is at 4:00 p.m. and we've invited kids (and adults!) to come in costume - - any nativity characters are OK. If we get 15 Mary's, we get 15 Mary's! For any who don't have costumes when they come we'll share from the church stash. I've got a rhyming telling of the nativity story and our Dir of Youth and Family Ministries will help at pauses to let the appropriate characters act out the story. The whole thing will end with all the kids on the chancel/stage in some sort of nativity tableau. We'll see how this goes. It's a first try! I'm very excited about it. Also exciting was a phone call I got yesterday while I was in the middle of planning all this. The newspaper from the Next State Capital Over wants to send a photographer over to take pictures for the paper. I immediately shouted YES and then got on the e-mail to tell all our families they had better be there!

    The next service is at 6:00 p.m., and it's more traditional. I get to give a SHORT meditation at this one, and I mean short. We have something like 8-10 special music pieces, 3 hymns, and a congregational candle-lighting to get through all in an hour. I will admit this frustrated me early on. Why should I bother to show up? I don't mean to sound like it's all about me, but would it be too much to ask to leave a little room in the service for, I don't know, SCRIPTURE? After my first reaction of feeling put out, I have just been trying to remind myself I am lucky to not have to do much. I'm lucky to not have to do much.

    We've planned a much more subdued service than usual. We're saving the big Christmas favorites - -"Joy to the World" "Hark the Herald" or any of the other BIG Christmas hymns for the 26th, and using the softer ones for Christmas Eve - "In the Bleak Midwinter" "Still, Still, Still" "What Child Is This." Our choir director will sing a solo of "'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime," and I just can't wait for that.

    Not only that, but I'm not even reading Luke's nativity. It seems like sacrilege. We'll read Matt 1:18-25 early in the service, and I'm going to actually preach from Matt. 1:1-17. Yup. The geneaology.

    My basic idea being that there are some difficult people and difficult situations in Jesus' ancestry. But Jesus saves. He redeems the people from which he comes. He redeems humanity of which he is a part. That's the super short version. The real version actually can't be much longer.

    OK - - enough comment-hogging!!

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  12. Oh yeah - - and YEA! for the extra preacher party. You know I'm in!

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  13. I'm excited about the preacher party, too!

    We only have one Christmas Eve service, and it's our Lessons and Carols service at 7:30. It's a lovely choir-led service, based on the King's College one, and the pastors only have readings and blessings to do. So, no meditation or homily for me.

    For Sunday, I've planned a lower-key, more intimate worship service than usual. We've invited people to dress casually and to sit near the front. The organist will be at the piano (which is floor level near the chancel, as opposed to the organ, which is in the balcony). All the worship leadership will happen from the floor level rather than up on the chancel. For the Gospel reading, I'm calling the children forward and reading the Luke nativity from the Julie Vivas book (King James Version with the most awesome watercolors).

    The message (not sermon) is entitled "Jesus Born, in Us" and will involve four people giving testimony about how Jesus has been born in their lives recently. One of those four testimonies will be mine, and I have to say I have found it more difficult to plan this than a sermon! It's just so ... personal! But I'm excited too, about the whole thing, and about how it might help people to think about what difference Christmas makes in their lives.

    We'll follow the testimonies with a time of carol-singing. It should be fun!

    Then as soon as it's over, my family and I are loading up in my car and driving 800 miles south, to see my family in Georgia. Yeehaw!

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  14. the sunday school kids are preaching via pageant at the 5:30 and my colleague is preaching the 11pm dec. 24 service...I wrote liturgy for both...

    anyone else preaching dec. 26? I decided to go with Matt. 2:13-23 the slaughter of the innocents...using Craddock's thought from the Christian Century: 2 kings and 2 kingdoms violence vs. peace. herod vs. Jesus

    trying desperately to write it and struggling. Matthew blows our Christmas myth of perfection out of the water.

    anyone else preaching on this?

    I've got some strong coffee to get us all through the next few days! Deep breaths.

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