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Letter from Amy: December 20, 2023




Dear Incarnation,


Wow, what a choir! Sunday was amazing! Thanks to Grant for leading and to everyone who sang.


And what beautiful, honest, thoughtful testimonies we've heard throughout Advent. Thank you to Laura, Andy, and David for their reflections (links will take you to their respective YouTube recordings, in case you missed them).


This is a natural time of year to reflect. Every year I recommend a few tools for year-end reflection. One is a simple examen, a reflective way of praying developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Normally the examen is prayed daily, but it can easily serve as a framework for reviewing the year. A simple yearly examen is available here.


If you are interested in a longer, more in-depth reflection, this Great Annual Examen is a wonderful resource which you can adapt as needed to your time and circumstances. You may wish to spread this reflection over a few days, or to share the practice with a trusted friend. I've used this resource for several years and always find it helpful.


Finally, I encourage you to sign up for a small group in the new year. These are wonderful, simple ways to build a time of reflection into each week. A meal and prayer — what could be easier?


Upcoming Services


For the rest of the year, all services will be held in a heated tent at Greenbrier Baptist (5401 7th Rd S). Don't worry, we'll keep the flaps closed to hold the heat in this time, and this tent is slightly larger than the last one.


You can read more about our Advent 4, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day services on the Advent page of our website. Here's a quick rundown; hope to see you there — with a friend!


Advent 4 Morning Prayer: Sunday, Dec 24, 10am

A brief service of morning prayer marking the 4th Sunday of Advent (no sermon, music, or communion; please note this is not a Christmas Eve service!). In the heated tent outside Greenbrier Baptist.


Greening the Sanctuary: Sunday, Dec 24, ~10:30am

Immediately after morning prayer, help us prepare the tent sanctuary for Christmas Eve by cutting and hanging fresh greenery! 


Christmas Eve: Sunday, Dec 24, 4pm

A service of carols, candlelight, and communion including a simple children’s nativity play. All kids are welcome to come dressed as angels, shepherds, or animals if they want to participate in the play. Warm drinks and Christmas cookies after the service. In the heated tent outside Greenbrier.


Christmas Day Pajama Church: Monday, Dec 25, 9am

Join us at 9am on Zoom for a short and joyful Christmas prayer service. I love this simple tradition of celebrating Jesus' birth together first thing on Christmas morning! Link to join on the Advent page of our website, or right here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83534324970.


New Year's Eve: Sunday, Dec 31, 10am

Join us for the first Sunday of Christmastide (the 12 days of Christmas) in a heated tent on the Greenbrier lawn. We'll sing more Christmas carols and celebrate our usual Sunday Eucharist service, just in a different location!


***


I'm so looking forward to celebrating the incarnation of Jesus over the coming week.


But until then, it's still Advent. And on that note, I'll conclude by sharing with this recent creche created by a church in Bethlehem, West Bank. As I preached and we sang on Sunday, Jesus was born "when half-spent was the night." He always comes to us amidst our darkness, rubble, violence, and confusion. And so until he comes to set things to right, we cry out: Come, Lord Jesus.


I'm praying for us all as our Advent longing makes room for Christmas celebrating. See you Sunday!


With love,

Amy


December 2023, Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, Bethlehem. Photo: Munther Isaac

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