Hello Slatersville Congregational Church.

I hope you are all able to take a breath, and make time to rest and wait for the birth of Jesus and don’t get too overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Actually the Christmas season begins with Christmas Day and lasts 12 days. No, that doesn’t come from the song. The song comes from that tradition!

This time of waiting, which we begin Sunday December 3rd, is the liturgical season of Advent, not to be confused with the Hallmark Christmas movie season or Christmas shopping season… we’re talking apples and oranges.

This year SCC has produced its very own Advent Devotional. Each day begins in the spirit of prayer, a short scripture reading followed by a reflection written by one of the friends and members of Slatersville Congregational Church. It is an affirming experience to read a devotional as a community whether it be Lenten or Advent, but there’s something very special about beginning each day with a reflection written by someone from the community. These booklets have been mailed to friends who love this community but live too far away to attend. They have also been brought to
friends in assisted living so they can follow along as well. In fact, you may notice that a couple of the reflections have been written by our friends abroad.

Margaret and Michell really made the actual physical production of the booklets a reality. Each day’s reading will also be posted on Facebook daily and delivered to those on the constant contact e-mail list at the beginning of each day, thanks to Jenni, Margaret and Donna. But most importantly perhaps, the devotional was made possible by all of the folks who took a chance and wrote reflections even if they didn’t quite feel comfortable doing so. They took a risk and they trusted their community, much as April and Bob did when they were singing solos up front in church. It takes a willingness to look like a fool, to trust and to take chances in order to really grow spiritually. Individuals don’t grow playing it safe and neither does a community. As a community we need to put ourselves “out there” the way the folks in this devotional did. As a community grows through spiritual practice and trust, they are able to project to the world around them who they are in a powerful way. It’s not a mystery what they stand for, it’s obvious. That one of my hopes for SCC.

The ONA Core Team introduced the idea of purchasing a UCC “Be the Church” banner at our last council meeting with the motion being quickly approved. The banner has already arrived and been placed between the pillars in front of the church by Steve and Jim, with Bob taking on a supervisory role.

January 7, we will have a short meeting after church with prospective new members. If you have been hanging out with the good folks at SCC for some time now, maybe this is the time to
consider joining! As of today, I believe we have 6-8 people planning to join. The ceremony will occur during the service on January 28th, the day of your annual congregational meeting.
December 17th we will have a baptism for baby Elena, with soon-tobe members (and adoring parents) Jessica and Matt Silva.

The sign-ups for Bible study and crucial conversations are available on the kitchen counter at coffee hour. We will have a brief meeting after church at coffee hour on January 14th to discuss the details of the Bible study. If you have mentioned to me more than once that you sure wish there was a Bible study at Slatersville Congregational Church, I had better see your name on that list!
About 10 or 12 of you have either read crucial conversations or portions of it. Someone has already purchased the small group leadership book. If improved collaboration and the success of this
community is important to you, please sign up for this group. It will be lay led.

The holiday season is a joyous one, but also carries with it much sadness for many. For some it will be the first or second Christmas without a beloved one, a spouse, child or parent, maybe a sibling or friend. For others the holidays come with painful memories or sadness around estranged family or friends or strained relation. For some of us holidays are difficult. With that in mind, at 7pm on Wednesday evening, December 20th there will be a “Longest Night”, sometimes referred to as a “Blue Christmas” service. It will be a time of reflection, remembrance and a place where it’s OK to not be ecstatically happy for a few moments. Far from depressing a longest night service is a time to be supported and show support for those who may struggle during the holiday season. Please let friends in grief groups and recovery groups know about this special service.

And, well, it’s a little early, but MERRY CHRISTMAS!