Preparing for Christmas
I’m looking forward to returning to Pearce’s pulpit this coming weekend. I have missed gathering for worship with our church family the past three weekends. Again, I am grateful for those who have so ably served in my absence: Dr. Cullum, Dr. Dwyer, and Dr. Grimm. My deepest thanks to them! (I also have a new appreciation for the podcasts on the Pearce website!)
This weekend, we’ll begin preparing for Christmas by considering ways in which we can observe the holiday with a clear Christian approach. How can we not become stressed and worn out by the flurry of activity which has become the norm for an American Christmas?
This new sermon series is entitled “This Christmas Will Be Different!” I’ll be looking at the Luke 10:38-42 account of Jesus’s visit to the home of Mary and Martha. We’ll consider ways we can have a simpler approach to this Christmas.
A Spirituality of the Ragged Edges
Dr. J. Richard Middleton, Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary, will present a seminar entitled “A Spirituality of the Ragged Edges: The Lament Psalms as a Resource for Faith in Times of Trouble” on Wednesday evening, December 10, at 6:30pm in room 134 of Pearce’s educational wing. Dr. Middleton combines a scholar’s mind with a pastor’s heart. His teaching will provide an encouragement for all who may be challenged by our culture’s superficial “happiness” as the Christmas season approaches.
Singing the Sacred Music of Christmas
I love Christmas music and my itunes playlist is filled with hundreds of Christmas songs. I usually begin playing Christmas music in September and savor the songs for the final quarter of the calendar year.
I’ve asked Dr. Robert Shewan to provide an opportunity for those of us who love to sing sacred Christmas music to gather in Pearce’s Sanctuary on Wednesday, December 17, at 6:30pm. Dr. Shewan will lead this impromptu choir in singing a wonderful selection of songs, including such classics as “Angels from the Realms of Glory” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
You don’t have to be an accomplished singer to join. After all, I will be there! This is for those who simply can’t get enough of sacred Christmas music.
Extending a Caring Touch
I love when God’s people demonstrate His love in practical ways. This time of the year always provides many opportunities for each of us to extend caring touches to those around us.
Already you have responded to two significant ministries in the past few weeks. A total of 530 shoeboxes filled with gifts are now being shipped around the world as part of Operation Christmas Child. I hope you are bathing your box in prayer, asking God to use that simple expression of love as a way of drawing a child close to Him.
This past weekend, you provided a total of 905 Thanksgiving boxes to people in Monroe County, all of which were delivered by Monday afternoon. (More than 600 boxes were delivered on Saturday alone!) Sherri Taber who, along with her husband Terry, directs this ministry said to me, “It has gone so smoothly! God has provided in such amazing ways!” Jim Heeks commented on how wonderful it was to see other churches come alongside of Pearce to help with this ministry.
Monday morning, we received a phone call from one of the recipients of a Thanksgiving box. He wanted to express his appreciation and said to Joan, Pearce’s receptionist, “No one has ever done anything for me like this before!”
There remain two key ways you can extend a caring touch this Christmas. One way is by participating in “Clothes for Kids,” a ministry to provide warm winter clothing for children in Rochester. Just stop by the table in the lobby next weekend to pick up a name of a child, complete with information that will help you make your purchase. The second way is by participating in the Advent Conspiracy, simplifying your purchase of Christmas gifts to free resources to provide fresh drinking water for those who lack this most basic need. We’ll receive a special offering during the worship services on the weekend of December 20 and 21 for Clear Blue Global Water Project.
Things Are Looking Up!
When I returned to work this past Monday, Pastor Mike told me that I reminded him of Carl in the movie “Up!” I asked Jay Stephenson, one of our gifted support staff, to make the comparison. I don’t think I really look like Carl, do you? Maybe if I added the tennis balls to my cane?