Dear friends and members of RLC
As we enter December, I want to call your attention to our upcoming Kids' Christmas Program: Sleepover at the Stable. In this program, our children and youth will “become” the animals that were present in the stable at Jesus' birth. We will hear the story from the perspective of these humble ones--present, but often overlooked.
This seems especially appropriate as we remember the story of this humble family: Mary, Joseph and Jesus. And as we remember the ones whom this Jesus continually held up as precious to God: the unseen, the unheard, the discarded, the despised.
The gift that God gave to the world was a helpless baby who needed others to survive, who grew up poor, who died young—and yet, was the means through which God saved the world from all which separated it from life itself, including death.
In response to this incredible gift, we give gifts to one another, including to those whose needs are great. This year, our children are invited to give gifts of animals through the ELCA World Hunger program to people around the globe whose lives can be changed by the reception of a goat, some chicks, honeybees or a piglet.
The children received “God's Global Barnyard” banks at Sunday School in November (if they have misplaced them, there are more available in the narthex) along with a list of the prices of various animals and other gifts they can offer. I am asking that the children fill these banks before the December 22nd Christmas Program and bring them as their offering at the Program.
If any of you reading this wish to make a contribution toward animals for poor families around the globe, you are welcome to participate. We will see what kind of menagerie we assemble at the Christmas Program on December 22nd!
Another way you can offer gifts to local folks who need help with the necessities of life is to provide gift cards for me to share: gas cards, Pick'n'Save, Walgreens and Walmart cards are most needed.
Christmas is a time of year that holds memories for most of us-many of them beautiful, some tinged with great sadness and longing. I wish you the love of others, light in the darkness, the presence of God's peace and joy.
You are invited to participate in worship on both Thursday, December 19th at 6:30 when we have our Longest Night Christmas Service as well as on Tuesday December 24th at 5:30 when we hold our service of Lessons and Carols. Holy Communion will be served at both of these worship services.
Whatever your circumstances this particular year, know that you are loved with an everlasting love by the God who creates, saves and guides us out of darkness into light.
Dear friends and members of RLC,
On Sunday, November 3, the church will celebrate All Saints Day. This is a day on which we remember those we have loved who have died. Yet we do not remember as those who have no hope, for we trust that the promise of Jesus is true: that when we are united with him in a death like his, we are also united with him in a resurrection like his. And so, we are freed to both grieve our loved ones' absence while also celebrating their presence in the “community of saints”
This year, you will receive slips of paper as you enter the worship space. You are invited to write the names of any people you would like remembered aloud in worship. Please prayerfully hold onto these papers until you are invited forward by the dancers to place these names on the altar. A bit later in the service, they will be gathered together and read aloud.
The dance during the All Saints service will be to a song by the Irish songwriter/singer, Damien Rice. It is a song called Trusty and True. The first time I heard it, I told my son that if I could choose a song to have playing while I died, this would be the one
The first half of the song speaks to me of the distance between my intentions and the actuality of my actions. So many times in life, I meant to do or be far more than I accomplished or was. This includes in my relationships with those I have loved who have died. But-as the song reminds us-”we can't take back what is done, what is past, so let us start from here.”
Maybe this also captures some of what you feel when you remember those who have died—regret as well as love—and the decision (hard as it is some days) to start from here.
The second half of the song speaks to me of the graciousness of God who says, “come, come with fear, come with love, come however you are, just come.” During this part of the song, you will be invited to come forward to the altar and lay the names of your loved ones on this holy table. You are also invited to lay any regrets or pain you feel down on that table. You are invited to “come with sorrow and songs, come however you are, just come.”
When we gather a bit later in the service around the altar to share the “holy community” meal, let your heart imagine the presence of those we have named. They are not gone; their life in Christ is simply being lived in the fullness of the presence of God, as will ours one day when we too are gathered with our ancestors.
In the meantime, we are living as those who have already died and been raised. We have been united with Christ through baptism into death and resurrection: one day our life on this earth will be done and this body's work will be finished and then we will be given a new resurrection body, fit for the kingdom of God where our resurrection life will continue.
We are all “more” because of our relationships—including those we have with loved ones who have died. May their blessed memory be shared among us with tears and with joy. And may we live fearless lives in Christ until we too come fully into his presence.
Peace, Pastor Mary