Tag Archives: Advent

Advent and Christmas 2016

img_2616for Advent and Christmas 2016.
Revised Common Lectionary Year A.
Narrative Lectionary Year 3.

Greetings!

During the past few Advents, we have highlighted tools we use to prepare for the mystery of Christmas: the Creche, the Chrismon Tree, and the Wreath. This year, we will partner with our Missions Ministry and focus on the Advent Calendar. Whereas with a traditional Advent Calendar doors are opened and a treat is received, our Advent Calendar will invite the people to bring an item each week for Missions. We are still processing the details so edits will be made to this post over the next few weeks…and your comments are always welcome!! Do not hesitate to adjust this series to fit your lectionary focus and the needs of your community.

(Editor’s note: My church has switched lectionary! Edgewood Presbyterian is spending this year exploring the Narrative Lectionary. Created in 2010 by Luther Seminary, the Narrative Lectionary is a four-year cycle and uses fewer but bigger chunks of text each week progressing September to May from Creation to the Early Church. For more information, click here. This is why you will notice both RCL and NL texts listed each week…fortunately, they (kinda) line up thematically for Advent.)

The Basic Outline

Christ the King Sunday: November 20
RC Lectionary: Colossians 1:11-20
N Lectionary: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Since we will be asking the people to bring items each week, we will use this Sunday prior to Advent to introduce the series.

Advent 1: November 27
RC Lectionary: Matthew 24:36-44
N Lectionary: Daniel 6:6-27
Focus Word: Peace
Missions Item: Honey for a local food pantry. Alas, due to health code regulations, this must be store-bought, processed honey and not neighbor, artisan honey.

Advent 2: December 4
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13
N Lectionary: Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Focus Word: Hope
Missions Item: Pajamas for First Light Womens Shelter

Advent 3: December 11
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10
N Lectionary: Isaiah 61:1-11
Focus Word: Comfort
Missions Item: Socks for Mens Firehouse Shelter

Advent 4: December 18
RC Lectionary: Matthew 1:18-25
N Lectionary: Luke 1:26-49
Focus Word: Greetings
Missions Item: Chocolate kisses and hugs (Like Hershey’s)

Christmas Eve: December 24
RC and N Lectionary: Luke 2:1-14, 15-20
Focus Word: Go Forth
Missions Item: Gas Cards. Often those in need stop by the church asking for assistance; gas cards will be a way to help without handing out cash. Gas cards can also be donated to Children’s Hospital/Ronald McDonald House to assist those supporting sick family members.

And now the sermons…

Christ the King Sunday: November 20
RC Lectionary: Colossians 1:11-20
N Lectionary: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Good morning!

Often times when we gather, we talk about the Church Calendar. We talk about the special seasons and the special days of the Church Year. We have the Season of Lent right before the Season of Easter. And after Pentecost, during the Green Growing Season of summer and fall, we have the special days of Communion Sunday and All Saints. Today on the Church Calendar is called Christ the King Sunday. Today we celebrate the glory of the Lord…and we also look forward to a new Church Year. Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday on the Church Calendar. That means next Sunday begins a new Church Year with the Season of Advent. And Advent is the time when we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Talking about calendars and Advent…well, I’m sure you have heard those two words together. One of the many ways we mark Advent and prepare for Christmas is with an Advent Calendar. There are many different kinds of Advent Calendars: some have pictures, some have stories, and some have candy or toys…but they all count down the days to the mystery of Christmas.

Advent Calendars have been used around the world for just over 100 years. On traditional Advent Calendars, a door is opened each day. Doors are a symbol for welcome and sharing and new opportunity. This year at EPC, we celebrate Christ the King Sunday by opening the door to a new Church Year and a new kind of Advent Calendar. Starting next week, for our Advent Calendar, instead of counting days, we will count weeks. And instead of us getting something, we will give items for Missions. Each week, we will bring an item to the church; gather our items; read the Bible Story; and then the items will be delivered to those in need. We will count down to and prepare for the mystery of Christmas by following Christ’s example of welcome and sharing, by sharing God’s love with our community.

And so what we will bring for next Sunday? For the First Sunday of Advent, we will collect…honey. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, get a jar of store-bought, processed honey and next week, we will collect them for the Food Pantry at IPC; and we will see how honey is a sweet way to share God’s love.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Christ the King,
Thank You
for the special days and seasons
of the Church Year.
Thank You
for many ways
to share Your love.
We love you.
You love us.
Amen

***

Advent 1: November 27
Keep Calm and Advent On
RC Lectionary: Matthew 24:36-44
N Lectionary: Daniel 6:6-27
Focus Word: Peace
Missions Item: Honey for a local food pantry. Alas, due to health code regulations, this must be store-bought, processed, commercial honey and not neighbor, artisan honey.
Inspiration: In his Advent book Like a Cat Asleep on a Chair, my friend Wayne McLaughlin reflects on “The Clause” by C.K. Williams, “This entity I call my mind, this hive of restlessness…”

Good morning! Happy New Year!

Today we start a new Church Year with the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. Some people use an Advent Calendar to count down the days to Christmas. They open doors on the calendar to see a picture or to read a story or to get a treat. We are using the Advent Calendar idea to count down the four weeks to Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. Today, for the First Week of Advent, we are giving jars of honey to the IPC Food Pantry.

Honey is made by bees. Bees are very busy. Always moving, always working, always buzzing. Sometimes I feel like our world is a great big beehive—all the people are buzzing with activity just like bees. We race through the days doing this, taking care of that. We don’t slow down. We don’t stop. [Narrative Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is about the Prophet Daniel; he’s the one who ends up in the lions’ den. And how does Daniel get through? Daniel stays calm. Daniel stays calm and trusts God.] [RCLectionary: Our Bible Story today from the Gospel of Matthew reminds us to be ready for God, but not worry about God. We are to keep calm and trust God.]

At this time of year, the world seems particularly busy and crazy. But for us at church, Advent is a time to be particularly calm. We are called to pause from the buzzing here and there of the world around us. During Advent, we prepare for the mystery of Christmas calmly, quietly, peacefully.

Bees move quickly. But honey…when we pour honey, it moves sweetly and slowly. Our gift to the Food Pantry gives us a touch of peace while giving others a touch of God’s love through the sweetness of His creation.

Sharing peace is what Advent is all about. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the First Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given our first gift. Next week, for the Second Week of Advent, we ask you to bring pajamas for the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter. And through this Season, remember: Keep calm and Advent on!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for bees who are quick.
Thank You
for honey which is slow.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 2: December 4
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13
N Lectionary: Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Focus Word: Hope
Missions Item: Pajamas for First Light Women’s Shelter

Good morning!

We are in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. Some people use an Advent Calendar to count down the days to Christmas. They open doors on the calendar to see a picture or to read a story or to get a treat. We are using the Advent Calendar idea to count down the four weeks to Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. Last Sunday, for the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry. Today starts the Second Week of Advent, and today we have brought pajamas for the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter.

[Narrative Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is from the Prophet Joel.]
[RC Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is from the Prophet Isaiah.] We hear words of hope for our future. But hope is not a weak word that means ‘we wish.’ Hope is a strong word that means ‘we know.’ During Advent, we renew our hope, renew our knowledge that our future is beautiful and abounding in God’s love.

Pajamas are an odd gift to connect to hope. But let’s think about it. We don’t have to have pajamas; a t-shirt and shorts work just fine. So giving pajamas goes beyond the practical, beyond what is needed; pajamas are special. And giving something special is a way of expressing hope. First Light Women’s Shelter is a place for women who do not have a home. By giving pajamas to the guests at First Light, we are wrapping them in a coat of love, love, love. We are renewing their hope, their knowledge that their future is beautiful and always abounding in God’s love.

Sharing hope and peace is what Advent is all about. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Second Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given our second gift. Next week, for the Third Week of Advent, we ask you to bring socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter. And through this Season, remember: Keep calm, express hope, and Advent on!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for pajamas
to keep all Your children warm.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 3: December 11
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10
N Lectionary: Isaiah 61:1-11
Focus Word: Comfort
Missions Item: Socks for Men’s Firehouse Shelter
Editor’s Note: For this Sunday, an alternate Revised Common Lectionary is the Annunciation which falls on Week 4 in the Narrative Lectionary. This gets a bit tricky, but you may want to switch my sermons around and do Week 4 here and adapt this theme to fit the RCL for Week 4. Confusing, I know!

Good morning!

We are in the Season of Advent. We are using our Advent Calendar to count the four weeks to the mystery of Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; last Sunday, for the Second Week of Advent, our gifts of  pajamas went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter. Today starts the Third Week of Advent—and today we have socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter.

Let me explain. The Firehouse Shelter helps men who need housing or clothes or food or help with medicine or school or work or the law. Socks may not seem big enough to help, but think of this. Our feet are our friends. Taking care of our feet is important so that we can feel healthy and get around in this world. When our feet hurt, everything hurts; when our feet feel good, it sure helps our heart and mind and the rest of our body feel good.

[Narrative Lectionary: In our Bible Story today, the Prophet Isaiah uses poetry to describe how God loves us by clothing us with salvation and righteousness. Salvation and righteousness are not actual clothes that we wear; Isaiah is being poetic about how God makes us feel safe and comfortable. Our gifts of socks will keep the men’s feet warm and dry and cushioned in comfort. Our small, simple gift of comfort will help the men walk securely in God’s love.]
[RC Lectionary: In our Bible Story today, the Prophet Isaiah looks to the glory of the Lord…describing how the blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the lame shall leap like a deer. Isaiah uses poetry to describe how God makes us feel safe and comfortable and strong. Our gifts of socks will keep the men’s feet warm and dry and cushioned in comfort. Our small, simple gift of comfort will help the men walk strongly in God’s love.]

Sharing hope and peace and comfort is what Advent is all about. This is how we count the weeks to Christmas. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Third Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given another gift. Next Sunday starts the Fourth and final week of Advent. For next Sunday, we ask you to bring…a bag of Chocolate Kisses and Hugs. And through this Advent Season, remember: keep calm, express hope, share comfort, and Advent on!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for socks
to bring comfort to all Your children.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
to give comfort
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 4: December 18
RC Lectionary: Matthew 1:18-25
N Lectionary: Luke 1:26-49
Focus Word: Greetings
Missions Item: Chocolate kisses and hugs. (Like Hershey’s)
Editor’s Note: Sorry that the Narrative Lectionary is not matching the Revised Common Lectionary on this day. But for the RCL, Joseph is greeted by an angel in a dream…feel free to adjust this sermon to match that text better.

Good morning!

We are still in the Season of Advent. We are using our Advent Calendar to count the four weeks to the mystery of Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; for the Second Week of Advent, our gifts of pajamas went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter; then last Sunday, for the Third Week of Advent, our gifts of socks went to the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter. Today starts the Fourth and FINAL Week of Advent, and today we have brought Chocolate Kisses and Hugs for the guests at SafeHouse.

In our Bible Story today, Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel and learns that she is to be the mother of Jesus. That’s a pretty big job to be given in this world—and immediately Mary says, “Here I am Lord!” While she joyfully accepts this call, Mary realizes that she needs to make plans and prepare, so she travels to her Cousin Elizabeth’s house. There Elizabeth greets Mary with hugs and kisses, and Mary has time to prepare for the new life before her in peace and comfort.

We, too, are a people who like to prepare for what comes next. Advent is the Season when we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. But throughout the year and throughout the world, there are people who need to go some place to make their plans. We have brought these chocolate kisses and hugs for the guests at SafeHouse. SafeHouse is a peaceful, comforting place for women in need to go and make their plans for what is next in their lives. Our chocolate gifts are symbols of our own greetings of hugs and kisses to welcome them as they prepare.

Sharing hope and peace and comfort and greetings is what Advent is all about. This is how we count the weeks to Christmas. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Fourth and Final Week in Advent and we have opened our hearts and given another gift. This coming Saturday is Christmas Eve. We will again celebrate the mystery of Christmas! But we will bring one more gift—to finish our journey to Christmas we want you to bring a gas card—those prepaid cards to use at gas stations—so Pastor Joe can help people in need get where they need to be. So for this final week of Advent: keep calm, express hope, share comfort, offer greetings, and Advent on!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for chocolate
to greet all Your children with hugs and kisses.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
to give comfort
to offer greetings
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Christmas Eve: December 24
RC and N Lectionary: Luke 2:1-14, 15-20
Focus Word: Go Forth
Missions Item: Gas Cards. Often those in need stop by the church asking for assistance; gas cards will be a way to help without handing out cash. Gas cards can also be donated to Children’s Hospital/Ronald McDonald House to assist those supporting sick family members.

Merry Christmas!!

Yes, Christmas is here! We have counted the Four Weeks to the mystery of Christmas, opening our hearts each week with gifts for those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; for the Second Week, our pajama gifts went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter; then socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter on the Third Week; and last Sunday, chocolate kisses and hugs for the guests at SafeHouse. Tonight, Christmas Eve, you have brought gas cards.

As we hear our Bible Stories tonight about the birth of Jesus, I think it is funny for us to bring gas cards. Mary and Joseph travel by donkey; the shepherds use their feet; and later the wisemen will ride camels. None of them are stopping at gas stations. But throughout these stories, the people of God are traveling. They are going forth, answering God’s call.

The people of God are stilled called to go forth, and we are the people of God. Cars are one way that we go forth. Pastor Joe will keep our gifts of gas cards to share with those in need to help them go forth.

But as the Season of Advent moves to Christmas, do not think we are finished. With the mystery of Christmas, we are called to keep our hearts open—to go forth throughout the year finding other ways to continue keeping calm, expressing hope, giving comfort, and offering greetings. There is always more work to do for God and with Jesus, we have plenty to share.

Sharing is not just what Advent is all about. Sharing is what everything is all about. We have prepared for the mystery of Christmas by doing that which is the mystery of Christmas. Sharing. Always sharing.

For God so loved the world…
and we answer God’s call by going forth with open hearts and sharing. Keep calm, express hope, give comfort, offer greetings, and go forth.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Merry Christmas!
You are here!
We are here!
We are ready!
Our hearts are open!
We will go forth
and share Your love!
Amen
Amen

As the children return from the Steps, the organist will play 5 verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas…but this time regular tempo, regular key.

***

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
Peace of Christ with you all as you go forth and share!

(Especially share with me any typos, mistakes, whatevers that you see!)

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

Advent and Christmas 2015: Highlighting the Advent Wreath

IMG_1661This post contains 5 sermons: 4 for Advent and 1 for Christmas Eve. (For our other Advent series, check 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.) This year during the children’s sermon, my church Edgewood Presbyterian Church is highlighting the Advent Wreath. Each week a Youth (who are also our lay readers during December) will light the Advent candles at the appropriate time. We are using the traditional words: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love in the traditional order—but on Christmas Eve we will rearrange our traditional Order of Worship in a meaningful way!

We are also excited to use a hymn written especially for the Advent Wreath. Light a Candle Bright and Tall by David Wood (2012) can be found here. I have left a message on his post; I encourage you to do the same if you use his song.

The First Sunday of Advent: November 29: The Candle of Hope
lectionary focus: Luke 21:25-36
The Second Sunday of Advent: December 6: The Candle of Peace
lectionary focus: Luke 1:68-79
The Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudet Sunday): December 13: The Candle of Joy
lectionary focus: Philippians 4:4-7
The Fourth Sunday of Advent: December 20: The Candle of Love
lectionary focus: Luke 1:35-45 (46-55)
Christmas Eve: December 24, 2015: The Christ Candle
lectionary focus: 1 John 4:7-9, 16b

*****

Let us begin…(and please let me know of any typos, errors, or broken links!) 

*****

candle1For Sunday, November 29, 2015
First Sunday of Advent
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 21:25-36
references:
hope not as wish-so, but as know-so from an article by Jack Wellman, Patheos, 5/26/2014
Desmond Tutu quote from The New York Times, 3/7/2010.

Hello!

We are now in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we get ready for the mystery of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus becomes the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus. While the stores and shops are trying to get us to rush up to Christmas, we here at Church settle into the time of getting ready. We sing slowly, we pray slowly, and we listen slowly.

To help us mark these four slow weeks until Christmas, we light the candles of the Advent Wreath. Notice there are four blue candles for the four weeks. We light one candle each week, slowly making the wreath brighter and brighter and brighter. And when we have lit all of the blue candles, then it will be time to light the white candle; then it will be Christmas.

But Christmas is still a long time from now. And so today, the First Sunday of Advent, Finn will light one candle. We start with the Candle of Hope.

I always thought that hope meant a wish…I hope that it snows this year. But our Advent hope is not a wish-so, this hope is a know-soby our hope in Jesus, we know that the world is surrounded by His light.

This one candle by itself does not seem like very much. But there is a wise man named Desmond Tutu who said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Let me say that again, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” And so the Candle of Hope is the perfect place to start our Advent.

After our prayer, we have a special song to sing.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light the Candle of Hope
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Help us
to live in Your Light,
to live in Your Hope.
Shine within our hearts today.
Amen

And now we will sing the first verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

*****

candle2For Sunday, December 6, 2015
Second Sunday of Advent
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 1:68-79

Hello!

We are now in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we get ready for the mystery of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus becomes the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus. The world is trying to get us to rush up to Christmas, but we here at Church are settling into this time of getting ready. We are singing slowly, we are praying slowly, and we are listening slowly.

To help us mark these slow weeks until Christmas, we light the candles of the Advent Wreath. As we light one more blue candle each Sunday, the wreath will get brighter and brighter and brighter. And when we have lit all of the blue candles, then it will be time to light the white candle; then it will be Christmas.

But it is not Christmas yet. Last Sunday, we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. We heard that by our hope in Jesus we are able to see the light despite all of the darkness.

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, and that means Adrian will now light the second candle, the Candle of Peace.

I always thought peace meant completely silent and still. Listen to the candles. We can’t really hear them. Yet, notice how they flicker and move. The flames are so quiet, but they are not still.

In our Bible story today from the book of Luke, we hear that peace is an action. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, proclaims God’s faithfulness, God’s salvation, and God’s peace. We are reminded that God calls us to move forward into the action of peace.

Our Advent Wreath is now a little bit brighter. We continue our slow journey to the celebration of the light of Jesus. With Hope and Peace, let us move forward into the action of sharing the light of Jesus.

After our prayer, we have another verse of our special song.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light the Candle of Peace
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Help us
to live in Your Light,
to live in Your Hope,
to live in Your Peace.
Shine within our hearts today.
Amen

And now we will sing the second verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

*****

1advent8260aFor Sunday, December 13, 2015
Third Sunday of Advent
Year C
lectionary focus: Philippians 4:4-7

Hello!

We are well into the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we get ready for the mystery of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus becomes the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus. It certainly seems we are rushing up to Christmas, but here at Church we are in this time of getting ready. We are trying to sing slowly, we are trying to pray slowly, and we are trying to listen slowly.

But you know, this Advent stuff has been going on a long time. And it’s still not Christmas. We’re trying to be all slow, trying not to rush getting ready for the celebration. But slow is hard.

And so today. We’re going to take a break from slow.

It’s still not Christmas yet, but today is the Third Sunday of Advent, today we light the Candle of Joy. And you know: joy just ain’t slow.

But, let me back up a bit.

On the First Sunday of Advent, we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. We heard that by our hope in Jesus we are able to see the light despite all of the darkness.

Last week on the Second Sunday of Advent, we moved forward with action and lit the Candle of Peace. We listened to the silent candles, but watched them flicker and move.

And like I said, today is the Third Sunday of Advent. Now Sarah will light the Candle of Joy.

Another name for the Third Sunday in Advent is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is an old Latin word that means Rejoice! And what do we hear in our Bible story today? From the book of Philippians, loud and clear, we hear “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Say after me, “Rejoice!” (Rejoice!) (Get them really going on this…lots of joy!)

Sigh. That felt good.

The Advent Wreath is a way for us to mark the long, slow weeks until Christmas. The three candles of our wreath are giving a good amount light. Makes us excited about how much more light is coming. With Hope, Peace, and Joy, the world is looking brighter and brighter.

After our prayer, we have a special song to sing.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light the Candle of Joy
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Help us
to live in Your Light,
to live in Your Hope,
to live in Your Peace,
to live in Your Joy.
Shine within our hearts today.
Rejoice!!
Amen

And now we will sing the third verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

*****

1xmas8289For Sunday, December 20, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)

Hello!

We are still in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we get ready for the mystery of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus becomes the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus. The world has been getting us to rush up to Christmas, but we here at Church have been slowly getting ready. We have been singing slowly, we have been praying slowly, and we have been listening slowly.

To help us mark these slow weeks until Christmas, we have lit the candles of the Advent Wreath. The wreath has gotten brighter and brighter and brighter.

But it is not Christmas yet. On the First Sunday of Advent, we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. We heard that by our hope in Jesus we are able to see the light despite all of the darkness.

On the Second Sunday of Advent, we moved forward with action and lit the Candle of Peace. We listened to the silent candles, but watched them flicker and move.

And last week on the Third Sunday of Advent, we took a break from slow and lit the Candle of Joy. Rejoice!!

And now look! There’s only one blue candle left! And we are going to light it today. Go ahead JD and light the Fourth Candle, the Candle of Love.

Our Bible stories during Advent have given us bits and pieces of the Christmas story. Today’s reading we hear of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her visit with her cousin Elizabeth. Mary sings a beautiful song, a song of hope, peace, and joy, all wrapped up in a coat of love, love, love. Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord!” Love is about as big a light as we humans can make. And yet, God’s love for us is brighter. We call this the Candle of Love because no matter what, God’s love will always outshine the darkness.

All four blue candles are now lit. But we have a few more days left in Advent. We have a few days to carry slowly the brightly shining lights of hope, peace, joy, and love. And then we will celebrate Jesus becoming the light of the world, we will celebrate living in His light, we will celebrate a love and a light that knows no end.

After our prayer, we have another verse of our special song.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light the Candle of Love
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Help us
to live in Your Light,
to live in Your Hope,
to live in Your Peace,
to live in Your Joy,
to live in Your Love.
Shine within our hearts today.
Amen

And now we will sing the fourth verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

*****

IMG_1661For Thursday, December 24, 2015
Christmas Eve
Year C
lectionary focus: 1 John 4:7-9, 16b (This is flexible if you are not using this scripture.)

Technical notes:
On Christmas Eve, EPC does a candlelight service of 6 lessons and carols with the children’s sermon coming between the second and third lesson, the adult sermon between the fourth and fifth lesson, and following the sixth lesson the sharing of the light. We have decided this year to switch up the order.* The adult sermon will come between the third and fourth lesson. After the fourth carol is sung, those younger children who have opted to be in the nursery will brought in to the sanctuary and be invited with all the children down to the chancel steps. We will ‘review’ the Advent Wreath; light the Christ Candle; and then all listen from the steps as the fifth lesson (1 John 4:7-9, 16b) is read. We will pray; sing the Advent Wreath verse; and send the children to join their families as we prepare for the congregational candlelighting. With our children’s sermon series focus on the light, we want to make sure the children are ALL there for the candlelighting…it is the highlight of our series on Jesus becoming the light of the world!
*Parents will be notified so they can make decisions about their children who typically stay through the early children’s sermon and then head to the nursery.

Hello!

Merry Christmas! Yes, Christmas is here!

We have moved slowly through Advent; all four of our blue Advent candles are lit; now we are here at Christmas. We are celebrating that Jesus has become the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus.

In the center of our Advent Wreath is the white candle. Surrounded by the Candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, we call this center candle the Christ Candle. As Sabrina lights the Christ Candle, let us listen to Word of the Lord. (The reading of 1 John 4:7-9, 16b)

Our Advent Wreath is now fully bright. But the light does not stop and end here. As we just heard, the light and love lives in us. And God calls us to share the light of Jesus. In just a moment, you guys will go back to where your families are sitting. You each have a candle there like this. Our acolytes will take the light from the Christ Candle and share it with each of us, and we will share it with each other, and soon our bright Advent Wreath will be even brighter as the light shines throughout the church. Now it’s important to remember, when we are holding the light of Jesus, when we are holding the lit candle, we do not tilt the candle. Wax can be hot. We always hold the lit candle bright and tall.

Jesus is the light of the world. We live in His light. No darkness can cover up the light of Jesus.

After our prayer, we will sing our special song.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light the Christ Candle
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
We live in Your Hope.
We live in Your Peace.
We live in Your Joy.
We live in Your Love.
We live in Your Light.
Shine within our hearts.
Amen

And now we sing the final verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

And now go find your family…

Thanks be for each of you,
my on the chancel steps friends,
for being part of my family!

Merry Christmas!
May the light of Jesus continue to shine through you.
Fran

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

 

Advent Series: Highlighting the Chrismon Tree 2014

Advent Christmas 2014
Year B
Highlighting the Chrismon Tree

The Chrismon Tree is a relatively new option for sharing the story of God’s love. Started in 1957 by Frances Kipps Spencer at the Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, the tradition caught on and spread quickly…long before the Internet! This year, our church is using the parts of the Chrismon Tree to help us slowly prepare for the big joyful mystery of Christmas. For more details on the history of the Chrismons, see the Ascension Lutheran Church Chrismons Ministry.

For other details on ornaments and symbols, see these sites:
Chrismon Customs
and Chrismon Symbols

And so here are 4 sermons for Advent and 1 for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day:
1st Sunday in Advent–Nov 30Mark 13:24-37–Wrapping the Chrismon Tree’s base with a tree skirt
2nd Sunday in Advent–Dec 7Mark 1:1-8-Ornaments will already be on the top ¾ of the tree; children will hang ornaments on the lower branches
3rd Sunday in Advent–Dec 14John 1:6-8, 19-28–The lights (yes, strung before the 2nd Sunday but not lit) will be turned on during the children’s sermon
4th Sunday in Advent–Dec 21Luke 1:26-38–The angel treetopper will be on the tree
Christmas Eve–Dec 24Luke 2:1-14 (15-20); 1 John 4:7-9, 16b; John 1:1-5–Christ is Born!

And we have another song! To go with our theme, we have adapted O Christmas Tree into O Chrismon Tree. Verses are provided below with their appropriate Sunday or you can see all of them together by clicking here. Thanks to Jill and Bill and Amanda for your musical help!

*

for Sunday, November 30, 2014
1st Sunday in Advent
Year B
The Chrismon Tree
lectionary focus: Mark 13:24-37
prop: Just the bare Chrismon Tree, no ornaments, no lights, nothing. Have a tree skirt for this sermon. You might also have a real pine branch for illustration purposes if your church tree is artificial.

Welcome!

We are now in the Season of Advent, the time when we prepare ourselves for Christmas. Christmas is such a big joyful mystery that we take a whole month to prepare! This year, we will spend the 4 Sundays of Advent talking about our church decoration known as the Chrismon Tree. Wait? Don’t I mean Christmas Tree? No, our church tree is called a Chrismon Tree. Everyone say after me: Chrismon Tree (Chrismon Tree). The first Christmas trees were used over 500 years ago, and we decorate the ones in our homes to celebrate and share our family’s traditions. The first Chrismon Tree was created just over 50 years ago. A woman named Frances Kipps Spencer wanted to make something new out of an old tradition, so she decorated a tree for her church to celebrate and share the old and new story of God’s love for each of us. Mrs. Spencer named this a Chrismon Tree, adding together the word Christ with the word Monogram which are letters showing ownership; so a Chrismon Tree is a tree belonging to Christ.

But now I’m sure you are wondering why the tree isn’t decorated? Ahhh…first things first. As we said, the Season of Advent is the time we prepare for Christmas; and because Christmas is such a big joyful mystery we take a whole month to prepare…and we take a whole month to prepare so we can prepare slowly. Not slowly like we sit around doing nothing, but slowly like we take time to appreciate each step of our preparation.

Okay, but that still doesn’t explain why the Chrismon Tree is not decorated! Again, first things first. Let’s just look at the tree. Honestly, our tree is an artificial tree…that means it is not a living tree that grows outside. But it is a model of a real kind of tree, a real tree known as an evergreen tree. Do you hear that description? Ever. Green. Evergreen trees have these small pointy greens leaves; and evergreen trees hold these green leaves all year long, unlike other trees that lose their leaves each fall and are bare through the winter. We use evergreen trees at Christmas to remind us that God’s love for us is unchanging. God’s love for us is very old, and yet God’s love for us is also new. God has loved us, God does love us, and God will love us. Always.

And so on the First Sunday in Advent, we have placed the tree here in the front of the sanctuary to remind us of God’s unchanging love. We start decorating our Chrismon Tree by wrapping this blanket (tree skirt…whatever your terminology) around the base of the tree. Our Bible story today tells us to be ready. We have set the tree, the foundation for our Advent Chrismon Tree. Christmas will be here soon; but the first Christmas has already come. God’s love for us is unchanging; it is forever and ever.

Next Sunday we will see how this story continues.

After we pray, we will sing our Advent song…(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it; then lead the children in the chorus and verse of O Chrismon Tree.)

Dear Lord,
On this First Sunday in Advent
we are reminded
that Your love for us
is unchanging,
old and new,
forever.
Amen

And now O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 1 for Advent 1
Branches green the whole year through
Show us God is old and new.

**

for Sunday, December 7, 2014
2nd Sunday in Advent
Year B
The Ornaments of the Chrismon Tree
lectionary focus: Mark 1:1-8
prop: Prior to this Sunday string the lights (but they won’t be lit until Advent 3!) and hang the ornaments on the top ¾ of the tree. (Do not place that angel treetopper…that’s for Advent 4.) Have child-friendly ornaments for the children to hang during the sermon. As each church has different ornaments, you will need to choose the ones you have to highlight in this sermon. [Sites with ornament meanings: Chrismon Customs and Chrismon Symbols] This is the time to explain where your church got your ornaments: are they homemade by someone still in your church? or from long ago? a child’s grandparent? Share what the symbols mean as well as the personal stories of your ornaments. Prepare a time during Sunday School to share the different symbols and meanings.

Welcome!

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. We are slowly preparing for the big joyful mystery of Christmas! I’m sure you are noticing that our Chrismon Tree looks a bit different this Sunday. Last week on the First Sunday in Advent, we had just the bare tree here. We learned that we use a type of tree called evergreen to remind us that God is old and new; that God has always loved us and will always love us. God is unchanging.

Today the tree is hung with ornaments. Notice that they are all white and gold. White for purity. Gold for the Glory of God. Notice that they have different symbols. These ornaments tell the story of Jesus. [We see ornaments with stars…like the Star of Bethlehem. We see the Shepherd’s Crook…like the shepherds who came to Baby Jesus, and how we call Jesus the Great Shepherd. We see the Dove…Jesus brings Peace to the world. We see the Heart…Jesus loves us and God is love. We see many different crosses…we celebrate the birth of Jesus but also His continued life through Easter! The cross on this ornament is called the Jerusalem Cross and it was stitched by Cherry’s grandmother before Cherry’s father was even born!]

I wonder if you have noticed that only the top portion of the tree is decorated with ornaments? That’s because we want you to help! Each of you can come get an ornament to put on these empty branches down low. The symbols may seem unknown to you…but during Sunday School we will explain what each one means. Then you will know what part of the story of Jesus’s Church you have helped share!

Our Bible story today shares the message of John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus who helped prepare the way for Jesus to share God’s love. The ornaments of our Chrismon Tree continue to share the message of the Church, telling us about Jesus and His love for us.

And I see you noticed that there are lights on the tree…but they are not lit. Remember, we are preparing for Christmas slowly. We will see what is next on the Third Sunday of Advent.

After we pray, we will sing our Advent song…(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it; then lead the children in the chorus and verse of O Chrismon Tree.)

Dear Lord,
On this Second Sunday in Advent
we hang the ornaments
showing symbols
that share the story
of Your love
for us.
Amen

And now O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 2 for Advent 2
Ornaments of white and gold
Are symbols of the Church of old.

***

for Sunday, December 14, 2014
3rd Sunday in Advent
Year B
The Lights of the Chrismon Tree
lectionary focus: John 1:6-8, 19-28
prop: the lights on the tree…flip the switch during the sermon.

Welcome!

Today is the Third Sunday in Advent! We are getting closer to Christmas! The Chrismon Tree looks almost totally decorated! Almost, but not quite. Advent is a time that we prepare slowly for the big joyful mystery of Christmas. We began our journey with the bare Chrismon Tree, reminding us that God is unchanging and loves us always. Last week, we placed the ornaments of white and gold that tell the story of Jesus and His love for us. Today our Bible story continues sharing about John, the cousin of Jesus. The words used say that John came to announce that Jesus is the Light.

And so I wonder if you can figure out what we are going to add to the Chrismon Tree today? Right! It is finally time to light the lights! Zach will you push the button, please? Ohh. Ahh. The tree was already beautiful but the lights make it shine. And this shining makes the beauty extend out into the room. Like John in the Bible, the lights of the Chrismon Tree remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World. When we have Jesus in our hearts, we shine God’s love out into the world.

Light shines fast, but we are preparing slowly for Christmas. I’m afraid I can’t imagine what else we can add to the tree!

After we pray, we will sing our Advent song…(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it; then lead the children in the chorus and verse of O Chrismon Tree.)

Dear Lord,
On this Third Sunday in Advent
we light the lights
proclaiming
You are the Light.
Help us
to shine Your love
everywhere
all the time.
Amen

And now O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 3 for Advent 3
The lights are lit and shining bright!
Remind us Jesus is the light.

****

for Sunday, December 21, 2014
4th Sunday of Advent
Year B
The Angel Treetopper of the Chrismon Tree
lectionary focus: Luke 1:26-38
prop: the angel treetopper (already placed)

Welcome!

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. We are so close to Christmas that it may seem time is speeding up, but remember, we are preparing slowly for the big joyful mystery of Christmas. We want to appreciate each step along the way.

We began our season with the bare Chrismon Tree, reminding us that God is old and new and unchanging. On the Second Sunday of Advent, we added the ornaments symbols of the story of the Church and Jesus and God’s love. Then last week on the Third Sunday, we finally lit the lights proclaiming Jesus as the Light of the World! But what about today? I’m wondering if you notice anything different about the tree? Yes! At the very top! There is an angel!

In our Bible story today, we hear about Mary learning that she will be the mother of Jesus. Mary gets this news from an angel. When the angel first appears, Mary is a little surprised. I think I would be pretty stunned to meet an angel, too. And then to learn that God is calling her to such an important job! But the angel says, “Fear Not! God is with you.” This blessing gives Mary the strength to respond with joy and she says, “I am the servant of the Lord!”

God calls each of us to do important jobs. And sometimes we all just need to stop and remember: Fear Not. God is with us. And so, atop our Chrismon Tree, we have an angel reminding us that God is always with us and that we do not need to fear what God calls us to do. Like Mary, we can joyfully be servants of the Lord.

After we pray, we will sing our Advent song…(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it; then lead the children in the chorus and verse of O Chrismon Tree.)

Dear Lord,
On this Fourth Sunday in Advent
we hear the angel
Fear Not!
and we know
that You are with us always.
Amen

And now O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 4 for Advent 4
The angel sits atop the tree
Says Fear Not to you and me.

*****

for Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Christmas Eve
Year B
lectionary focus: Luke 2:1-14 (15-20); 1 John 4:7-9, 16b; John 1:1-5
prop: the Chrismon Tree

Welcome!

And so we have spent the past four weeks taking a slow approach to Christmas. We have slowly decorated the Chrismon Tree as we have slowly prepared for the big joyful mystery of Christmas. We started with just the bare evergreen tree, reminding us that God is old and new and unchanging. On the Second Sunday in Advent, we hung the white and gold ornaments with their symbols of the Church and Jesus and God’s love. On the Third Sunday, we finally lit the lights, shining the beauty out into the world and reminding us that Jesus is the Light. This past Sunday, we topped our tree with the angel, hearing again the words “Fear Not! God is with you!”

So I wonder if our tree is finished? A little over 50 years ago, the first Chrismon Tree was decorated in Danville, VA, by a woman named Frances Kipp Spencer. She said “a tree was never finished until someone came to see it and have the story of Christ explained to them through the ornaments.”

So I wonder if our tree is finished? I wonder if we can do more?

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Tonight we hear the story of the birth of Jesus told from the Old Testament to the New Testament. And in all these stories, we hear one of my favorite lines. After the angels appear to the shepherds in the fields telling them about the Baby Jesus, the shepherds head to Bethlehem. The Bible story says, “They went with haste…” Those shepherds, those regular guys, did not move slowly. They went quickly; they hurried to do what God called them to do. Tonight is Christmas Eve. We have prepared slowly, but now it is time for us, too, to go with haste, to hurry to do the important job God has given us. It is time for us to hurry and share God’s love.

Say after me:
Alleluia! (Alleluia!)
It is Christmas! (It is Christmas!)
Heaven comes to Earth! (Heaven comes to Earth!)
God loves us all! (God loves us all!)
Alleluia! (Alleluia!)
Amen! (Amen!)

And now we will sing all of our verses of O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 1
Branches green the whole year through
Show us God is old and new.

Verse 2
Ornaments of white and gold
Are symbols of the Church of old.

Verse 3
The lights are lit and shining bright!
Remind us Jesus is the light.

Verse 4
The angel sits atop the tree
Says Fear Not to you and me.

Verse 5 for Christmas Eve
Christmas Day Christ has His birth,
A time when Heaven comes to Earth.

******

Merry Christmas!
We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

O Chrismon Tree!

IMG_3743Advent 2014
Year B

I’m still working on the Advent sermons, but we have crafted the new verses for our theme song–changing O Christmas Tree to O Chrismon Tree. Here they are so you can see if you like! (Please feel free to make suggestions.) Our choir master is going ahead and introducing them to our children…

For more information on our Advent sermon series…see this post.

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 1 for Advent 1 (We explain the tree itself.)
Branches green the whole year through
Show us God is old and new.

Verse 2 for Advent 2 (We explain the ornaments.)
Ornaments of white and gold
Are symbols of the Church of old.

Verse 3 for Advent 3 (We explain the lights.)
The lights are lit and shining bright!
Remind us Jesus is the light.

Verse 4 for Advent 4 (We explain the angel.)
The angel sits atop the tree
Says Fear Not to you and me.

Verse 5 for Christmas Eve (We celebrate!)
Christmas Day Christ has His birth,
A time when Heaven comes to Earth.

Check back for more information…

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

Advent is Coming!

IMG_0388Year B
November 30-December 24, 2014

Three weeks until Advent!
I am working on an Advent Series and will post it shortly (possibly in bits and pieces).

Here is where we are headed: this year during our children’s sermon time, we will focus on the Chrismon Tree! Right, I said Chrismon Tree, not Christmas Tree. See here for an explanation of this relatively new church tradition. Last year, we had such fun building the creche with the Year A lectionary, and lighting the Advent candles goes best with the Year C lectionary; we are excited to see that the Year B lectionary fits nicely with the Chrismon Tree. Not every church uses a Chrismon Tree, so you can refer to my previous series for Advent Year B. But if you have a Chrismon Tree, think of how your church might highlight it to share God’s story. Below is a draft outline. We are also working on crafting O Chrismon Tree from the traditional song O Christmas Tree. (More later as rhyme and meter are settled!)

We are stressing SLOW. Our choir will do the anthem (one of my all time favorites: Lord, Before This Fleeting Season by Jindra/Larson… “let me remember to walk slowly…go less, stay closer to home, kneel more”), and so we will slowly decorate the Chrismon Tree over the 4 weeks of Advent.

To keep from being too complex during the children’s sermon, we will light the candles of the Advent Wreath during another portion of the service so we don’t need to refer to the wreath during the children’s sermon.

November 30
Advent 1
scripture– Mark 13:24-37 (Keep awake!)
focus: We open Advent by explaining that this is a season to move slowly and prepare for Christmas. Not slow in sitting around doing nothing, but we take time to be intentional.
prop: While the sanctuary will be decorated, the Chrismon Tree will be bare. Children will gather around the tree…which will have NO ornaments or lights. Discussion will focus that we are moving slowly this Advent. We bring in the tree and wrap its base with a tree skirt (yes, a la Linus and Peanuts), setting the foundation for our Advent Season. Yes, we want to get everything decorated and finished…but this year, we are moving slowly.
Echo Prayer
Song O Chrismon Tree

December 7
Advent 2
scripture– Mark 1:1-8 (Good News!)
focus: To go with the scripture, this Sunday we will highlight the ornaments of the tree. The top ¾ of the tree will have ornaments (lights will be strung, but not lit until the 3rd Sunday). Children will have the opportunity to place child-friendly ornaments on the lower branches during this sermon. The ornaments tell the story of the Church throughout time using various symbols.
Echo Prayer
Song O Chrismon Tree

December 14
Advent 3
scripture– John 1:6-8, 19-28 (Bear witness to the Light!)
focus: The Lights! Today we light the lights! These lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World!
Echo Prayer
Song O Chrismon Tree

December 21
Advent 4
scripture– Luke 1:26-38 (Fear Not!)
focus: The Angel appears to Mary saying, Fear Not! Did you know that every time an angel appears in the Bible, they say Fear Not!? God is with us always. The angel tree topper will be at the top now.
Echo Prayer
Song O Chrismon Tree

December 24
Christmas Eve
scripture– Luke 2:1-14 (15-20); 1 John 4:7-9, 16b; John 1:1-5
focus: We have been moving slowly during the Advent Season, but now Christmas is here. We will be like the shepherds and make haste to see the Baby Jesus!
Echo Prayer
Song O Chrismon Tree

and Bonus! Epiphany (Jan 4 or 11?)
We will still have the Chrismon Tree, and I hope to get the youth to participate in that children’s sermon, leading the kids in singing The Trees of the Field song…as we go out with JOY from the children’s sermon!

Advent Calendar

Join our Online Advent Calendar to count your blessings for 2013. Enjoy!

Advent 2013 Update…

AChristmasRejoice!
My updated Advent Series is ready!

Click to find the Gathering Advent handout that you can personalize for your church so families can gather Advent at home, too. (Honestly, not sure how this Word document will open on your computer; please contact me if you have trouble with it:  chancelsteps @ gmail dot com).

Or click HERE to find to find the whole series updated. Both include two more verses for Away in a Manger…courtesy of Jill Stewart, Lynn Dorough, and Susan Windham. These words fit perfectly with the Third and Fourth Sundays in Advent! My friends are blessed with poetic talents!

May you gather home, community, joy, and faith this Advent Season!
Frances