Director of Christian Education

“Lord, hear us, we ask— help our faith to increase Forgive us our sins; send us hope, joy and peace. As prayers went up, God’s love came down. Yes, love came down at Christmas.” from Love Came Down at Christmas by Tim Wesemann

It has been a year! As I looked back over my Carillon reports for the past year, I am happy to read of some pretty remarkable events and youth and children in this church. I am happy to read of the response of the members of this church to times of need and projects for others. I am grateful to read that much for so many is occurring on a regular basis in this place. We are reaching outside our walls to effect change in others in our community as we continue to effect change for those we rub shoulders with and greet weekly in our halls and meeting places and sanctuary. A spirit is moving within us.

You know, the X-O-O that is the name for our Wednesday night group of children stands for Christ, others, ourselves. We teach our children the importance of putting Christ first, then others and finally ourselves. And for little kids, they get that concept, too.

But we cannot stay isolated in the joy and amazing things happening in the church and right outside our walls. We live in this world and on some days, it is not a nice place to live. Wildfires after wildfires have ravaged acres of land in California this year. Hurricanes and storms have devastated many areas along the coast and island territories. Multiple shootings of innocent children and young people and folks at worship or shopping or in school have happened far too many times this year. Migrant children taken from their parents at the border or inside our country are still in detention centers and many of their parents have no idea where to find them. Many of the parents have been deported. Rallies and marches and protests seem to be happening almost every day across our nation. Our flags have flown at half-staff too many times. Divisions in politics and beliefs and elections are in the news constantly. Many people report feelings of great depression and sorrow. Some days it all seems overwhelming.

In my travels with educators from the United Church of Christ, I have met some pretty marvelous men and women. Women and men who have inspired me and encouraged me and who have a great love of the Christ child we celebrate this month. One of them, an educator from the Cleveland area, shared with many of us this prayer written by Rabbi Jack Beamer.

"We Cannot Pray to You"

We cannot pray to You, O God, to banish war, for You have filled the world with paths to peace, if only we would take them.

We cannot pray to You to end starvation, for there is food enough for all, if only we would share it.

We cannot merely pray for prejudice to cease, for we might see the good in all that lies before our eyes, if only we would use them.

We cannot merely pray "Root out our despair," for the spark of hope already waits within the human heart, for us to fan it into flame.

We must not ask of you, O God, to take the task that You have given us.

We cannot shirk, we cannot flee away avoiding obligation forever.

Therefore we pray, O God, for wisdom and will, for courage to do and to become, not only to look on with helpless yearning as though we had no strength.

For Your sake and ours speedily and soon, let it be: That our land may be safe, that our lives may be blessed. Amen

We, as followers of the Child, need to remember that we have the power given to us by God to make our lives and the lives of those around us much better. We need just to follow the Child born in a stable. And if you are one of those who feel lost or in anguish and depressed, come join us on November 28 for a potluck dinner and the Advent Festival. On December 5, come raise your voice after dinner as we go out to Christmas carol. Enjoy the beautiful message of the Chancel Choir during their Christmas Cantata on December 2. Or stop by the church on the weekend of December 15-16 to revisit the story of God’s son’s birth in the Live Nativity. Join us in worship on December 23 as our children give us a new view of the holy birth. And most certainly, join us as we make final preparations for the birth of the most important child, three times on Christmas Eve. Because you cannot escape the love and joy and beauty of the story of love sent down from God to each and every one of us. A Blessed Christmas wish to all of you!