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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Little Christmas Eve Preacher Party

My children had a Swedish grandmother, and while she was still living we would often have the family party on the 23rd, which she called Little Christmas Eve. The table would be decorated with Swedish horses and flags and laid with food from the old country (filtered through my non-Swedish father-in-law's training in classic French cookery).

As we preachers and pastors prepare for Christmas Eve with all its festivities and stresses, come take a seat at the Julbord. Find a piece of smoked salmon, or eat some rotmos (our family's favorite), and some Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, or go straight to the pepparkakor. I won't tell.

Join the party by leaving a comment. How did worship go this morning? What's on for tomorrow? Do you have a great idea to share? We're here until a fresh version of the party starts tomorrow morning.

43 comments:

  1. Suzy Garrison MeyerDecember 23, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    I was inspired by this, from CS Lewis:

    “Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out – single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.”

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    1. Oh, Suzy, that's a favorite. How beautiful.

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  2. In 20 minutes it will be Christmas Eve here. It has been a long day, but I know that if I don't give my Christmas Eve sermon some attention tonight, the evening will arrive and I will be harried and distracted. We depart for four weeks of home leave Christmas Day, and a family of 5 is staying at our apartment while we are gone. Making all of that ready in the midst of Advent and Christmas worship, and preparing for four weeks' absence has been a little hectic!

    But this morning the children of the congregation blessed me with their stories about the Advent Tree week by week, and by their desire to lie on the ground right by it and draw their pictures of people and places that need to be held in God's love - especially the people we miss when we live a long way from home or who live a long way from our home! That's the place I want to preach from - close to a vision of the fullness of the Kingdom, sure of God's loving embrace, taking for granted that this space (the room we rent for church) welcomes us all with our concerns no matter how big or how small. Now to find the words to do that...

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    1. Jemma, how touching about the children. Blessings in the chaos. May energy for all that lies ahead be your super power!

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    2. Thank you for sharing. I love this image. Merry Christmas and may you blessed with all the energy you need, and more!

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  3. Oh, and I know their nativity from a few years ago has been doing the rounds, but St Paul's in Auckland shared two new films this year. One narrated by current residents of Bethlehem and one by the children of the congregation about how extraordinary a plan it is for God to send not an army nor a superhero but a baby. That one's here

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    1. They are my new favorite Christmas story-tellers! And how cute are the kids' accents (to American ears)!

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    2. Ramona - the accents are also pretty cute to these China-living New Zealand ears!

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  4. Jemma, thank you so much for these links. I want to sing O Little Town at the Christmas Eve Watchnight after thinking some about Bethlehem today, this is super timely for me. Today was fun with the youth church presenting the story. But - on to the next service. We do a family Christmas Eve, a Watchnight and then. Christmas Day service,Mao still writing.

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    1. Hi, liz! I'm excited that liz is joining the Preacher Party team in January!

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  5. Early morning FB message = crisis brewing across the ocean. All I can say is that parenting young adults is about five zillion times more difficult than parenting children ever was.

    But, nevertheless, a church service this morning and a home communion in a few minutes. I'm not sure what my regulars thought of the painting sermon, but we have a couple in their 90s whose children and grandchildren and now first ggc were here. The son-in-law stopped to tell me that his son is an art teacher and was explaining the Tanner Annunciation (bulletin insert)to him before the service began. So they all seemed to have liked it fine.

    Now on to a home communion, organization of costumes for the Nativity tableau, and a very late night trip to the airport to retrieve a dismal young man.

    Sigh.

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    1. (((Robin)))
      I couldn't agree more.
      I would love to know more about the Tanner Annunciation. It's gorgeous.

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    2. I saw it in your sermon, which I haven't had time to sit and read yet. African American painter, late 1890s, father - AME pastor, travelled in Holy Land and tried to depict what he saw there. The painting (which I have yet to see) is huge and hangs in the Philly Museum of Art -- although Wayne Stratz tells me that they took it down for Advent. Go figure.

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  6. I'm home from church, where we had our liturgy of farewell and a goodbye lunch, although I will be back tomorrow for Christmas Eve services. But my office is packed (boxes still in my car) and there are only a few little things to do other than the services tomorrow night. I'm very excited about what lies ahead, but I will miss these dear people.
    I have Farewell cake to share, and some really good Starbucks Blonde Christmas blend if you need a pick-me-up. I am grading the last two papers from my Worship class, then taking another run at the Christmas Eve late service meditation. My story for the early service is posted at our Facebook group. If you're not a member and are looking for a last-minute all-age or children's message, let me know. In fact, i think I'll post it on my blog, too.

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    1. Blessings for your sabbatical!
      I'd like to see the Christmas Eve story if you care to share it, but I can't find it on Reflectionary or the FB page. Am I looking in the correct places?

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  7. So Martha, sabbatical time, right? Are you seeking a new call in your new home?

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    1. Yes, sabbatical time. After that, who knows? I'm not looking for anything until after Easter, at the soonest. Well, except looking for a place to have a good cup of coffee and buy yarn, and the other necessities of life.

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    2. Rest well as you begin a new path along the journey. Life is full of unexpected turns....

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  8. A couple of you are ending calls this week. And I am struck with how the circle continues as some move to new calls, some continue where we are, and other individuals begin their discernment process into ordained ministry.

    This morning my young intern - a high school junior - preached her first sermon. She's spent an hour a day with me since the beginning of October. She finishes this round mid-January, and is already coordinating her senior year internship with me. She did an outstanding job. What joy to see the Holy Spirit at work in this young woman. Her family doesn't know what to make of this...

    Then a 3-year old from a newly joined family, did her usual dance to the closing hymn. And at one point she crawled up on the music director's lap and turned to give a "thumbs up" to those of us who could see. Her parents say she loves coming to worship. She radiates joy.

    Rachel and Emma Rose; two young women filled with JOY and reflecting LIGHT. And Rachel preached on the Magnificat. I hope the living metaphor was not lost on the congregation.

    We are blessed to be in this good calling, are we not?

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    1. We truly are. Thanks for sharing these stories of hope.

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  9. oh the christmas eve sermon... bwaa haa haa
    started. 2/3 done actuallly
    rambling. rambling. rambling...

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    1. How's the editing? Mine feels like a bit of a hodgepodge of amazing things about God! Trying to edit for coherence!

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  10. Riffing on heaven breaking open time and space and pushing a master reset button.

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  11. Most of Christmas Eve is ready. Doing a modified Lessons & Carols, with a meditation on each lesson/carol. Using a verse or phrase from the carol to think about each lesson. I hope that's what I've done, anyway. Still need to put together some prayers, an invitation to the table, and I don't know what all.

    And crossed fingers that our elaborate, closely timed, kid hand-offs and drop-offs will allow both me and Daddy to arrive on time to our services! NASA has nothing on us!

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  12. We sang Away in a Manger for the closing hymn this morning. And in a congregation of about 70 or so, one child's voice sang out over all the others. There is just something about children telling or singing about Christmas. Lovely moment.

    The rest of the day has been spent in a council meeting and a funeral planning/pastoral care session. I just got home and sat down. Love to relax, but I really have to get a newsletter finished and of course there's the Christmas Eve sermon to write.

    Glad I have you-all to party with!

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  13. Another story to make you smile:
    A friend had a groupon for a party bus that expired the end of the year. So she loaded the bus up with 1st and 2nd graders and took off around the city to do random acts of kindness. Caroling at the nursing home, cookies to firefighters, passed out quarters at the laundromat, left more quarters on top of the bubble gum machines at the grocery store, bought someone's food at McDonald's. The bus driver refused a tip at the end of the afternoon, saying "you've reminded me that there's kindness in the world. This is the best drive I've ever done."

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  14. Love it esperanza!

    Checking in after a few weeks away from the preacher party...because of all the things still lingering on my to-do list, the Christmas Eve sermon for 9 pm is tops on there.

    Last Sunday we had the children's play...today we had the choir's cantata...(so I really lucked out not having to preach two Sundays in a row!) and for the 4 pm service tomorrow I'm reading a children's book and then reflecting on it briefly for the adults. So this sermon is the last straw in the manger, so to speak.

    Although that makes it sound like Jesus won't be born if everything doesn't get done. Thank goodness that isn't true!

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  15. This will be my first Christmas eve service as pastor. The sermon is a work in progress.

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    1. Ivy, blessings as you work on the sermon.

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    2. Enjoy! Hope that as well as any nerves you feel, any busy thoughts running through the checklist of it all, that there is also some joy and wonder of your first pastoring Christmas Eve!

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  16. I'm going to hit the sack soon, I realized that my meditation for the late service sounds like it was written for a different world, and it was, because the bulk of it was written before Newtown. I am going to take another look at it in the morning. Meanwhile, all of my children are home, and there is much joy in being together. My prayers this night are with all of you, whether you are writing or wrapping. A new party starts in the morning!

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    1. Thanks for your hospitality Martha!

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  17. This is also my first Christmas Eve sermon. Actually, it's my first sermon outside of a seminary classroom (I'm a 2nd year seminarian). My home church is between pastors and our interim has taken off, so we're winging it. We're doing lessons and carols and I am working now on a meditation based on the carols. I've decided that if inspiration doesn't strike and I don't finish this meditation, I'll just read the congregation the translations I worked on for my Hebrew final exam instead...

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    1. when we do lessons and carols, I don't include a meditation or sermon. if you don't get any inspiration, add in another bible reading and an extra carol or two - or just have a short service.

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  18. Christmas eve night here, and trying to write something that looks like a Christmas sermon. I had an idea earlier in the week, but it is not coming together at the moment. I need to leave in just under 12 hours, and plan to sleep for as much of that as possible.

    last night I found out one of the members of the congregation is in hospital after a stroke on Friday, in ICU, and her daughter has told me it looks like she will not recover. an MRI was scheduled for this afternoon, then a meeting to discuss options with the family. I haven't heard from the family since then. They may not be back from the hospital yet.
    so time to stop procrastinating, and write a sermon, and hopefully there is time to wrap my husband’s Christmas present 

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  19. not sure about this sermon for Christmas Day, but it is done
    last night, 23rd, we had 75 people at our carols service; and on past years, tomorrow morning [Christmas] there will be 120-130. Sunday we average 55. Lots of people who only come to church once a year.
    As always a struggle with what to say to people who are at worship every week, and to people who come once a year - in the same sermon.

    Now to wrap presents.

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    1. I guess we all struggle with that one, Pearl. In some ways I am simply re-telling the story, knowing that it will be the one time of year that it comes to life for some in the congregation. For those there week after week, I am trying to give them the tiniest slant of a new perspective.

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  20. Checking in today to see if I can get inspired to write for this evening. On a positive note I got really good reviews on yesterday's service. I went off-lectionary and preached about Simeon . . . more specifically I preached about that deep longing we have in our souls for something more than gifts under a tree. One of my members suggested I preach it again Christmas Eve so a larger population can hear it. While I probably won't preach it again, I offer the idea to you along with my prayers for others still running this amazing marathon of worship.

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