Dear friends in Christ,
I hope you’re all doing well and that those of you who commuted this icy morning are safe. I have a few things to highlight for this week:
A Pastoral Concern
For many months we’ve been praying for church members Mickie and her husband Carl as Carl has been on home hospice care. On Christmas, our brother in Christ, Carl, died at home surrounded by his family. There was a private service for Carl this past Monday. Carl’s obituary can be found here: https://www.fordfh.com/obituaries/Carlton-A-Shea?obId=23491595
Please keep Mickie, her children (Robbie, Ernie, and Susan), and the whole family in your prayers. If you’d like to send cards to Mickie or Robbie, their addresses are in the latest church directory, or you can contact the church office. The deacons and I are talking to the family to see if anything else would be helpful for them.
On behalf of the church and the whole people of God, we say to Carl “well done thou good and faithful servant.”
My Christmas Eve sermon had a bit about the WWI Christmas Truce. If you’re interested in learning a little more about that event, the Imperial War Museum has a really nice 12 minute primer video on the truce that I think is particularly good because it’s got audio of veterans telling their stories. You can find that here: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-real-story-of-the-christmas-truce
Some of you asked for the text of the prayer by Thomas Merton that was in my sermon this past week, and here’s that prayer:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
In case you’re interested, here’s the SNL sketch I referenced in my sermon this past Sunday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiuYmM0lG6o
As we’re just still barely in the Christmas season, I also wanted to share with you an article by a Yale professor about how December 25th came to be the date of Christmas. The common wisdom thrown around is that Christians co-opted a pagan solstice festival to get the date for Christmas, but that’s not actually how December 25th became the date of Jesus’ birth. If you want the full story, the article can be found here: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/how-december-25-became-christmas/
I’ve attached some pictures of the church from the past week or so. On Monday, there was a beautiful sunset, so there’s a picture of that. We’ve also had a number of foggy days, and I put in a couple pictures of how the Christmas tree on the green looks in the fog. And then from this past Sunday, I’ve attached a picture of our decorations for Epiphany.
This coming Sunday the church celebrates the baptism of Jesus. Epiphany, January 6th, is the day the culminates the Christmas season, and Baptism of the Lord marks the start of a stretch of ordinary time in the church calendar before Lent. Some versions of church calendars consider the time between Epiphany and Christmas its own season of Epiphanytide.
Baptism of the Lord Sunday is one of the traditional feast days where baptisms would occur (as you might guess), and it’s also a day the church typically uses for people to reaffirm and remember their own baptisms. One of the traditional rites for remembering baptism is called asperges (which my phone always autocorrects to asparagus.) Essentially, that’s a fancy word for sprinkling people with water. This is usually done with an aspergillum, which those of you from more liturgical backgrounds might be familiar with. It usually looks like a ball on a stick. Or, sometimes a small branch from a tree or shrub is used to sprinkle the water. This Sunday we’re going to reaffirm our baptisms, but I’ve elected not to splash you all with water, at least not this time.
Have a good week and stay safe.