Day: December 3, 2017

ADVENT BEGINS ON MUSICAL NOTE

 

 

 

By Loretta Fulton

The season of Advent, the four-week period of anticipation and reflection leading to Christmas, got off to a joyful, musical, and fun start in Abilene Dec. 3.

Several churches held events that ranged from a bell choir concert to messy, but fun, chrismon-making, to an auction of chocolate “church mice” and other goodies.

The Canterbury Adult Bell Choir at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest rang in the season with a joyful and uplifting concert that followed an open house in the church’s new parish hall.

First Baptist Church and First Central Presbyterian Church both held family activities that included making chrismons, which are tree ornaments in the shape of religious symbols, to take home. Every five years, larger chrismons are made to hang on the tree in the church’s sanctuary, said Becky Tucker, pastor for children & women’s ministry.

In 2011, when Tucker first took on her current position, she noticed that the old chrismons were looking a little dated.

“We decided back in 2011 to make new ones,” she said.

Now, new ones are made for the church tree every five years. The other four years, families make them to take home. Rocky and Amy McAdams and their two children, Brinley and Cason, make it a habit to make new chrismons each year to add to the family tree.

“It’s a fun tradition,” Amy said.

At First Central Presbyterian, a pastry auction was held, along with dinner and chrismon-making. The chocolate “church mice” may not have raised the most money, but they did bring the most “ahs.”

Proceeds from the auction, held each year on the first Sunday of Advent, go to youth missions. Several of the youth who took part in a local mission last summer, with Love & Care Ministries, talked about the experience,

“We learned how it feels to be homeless,” Victoria Rodriguez said.

 

DELAYED GRATIFICATION

by Mike Patrick

A middle-aged woman visited with a counselor because of her depression. Joy in life had evaporated over time. She hated her job and had difficulty getting through the day. She started her morning with energy and feeling upbeat. However, it got worse by the hour.

The counselor thought that the way she lived her life at work might manifest itself the same way in other activities. He asked her, “What’s your favorite meal?” After she described the meal including chocolate cake, he asked, “What do you eat first?” She responded that she ate her dessert first. He then said, “Tell me how you eat your chocolate cake.” She said she always used her fork to scrape off the icing and ate it first.

She approached work the same way. She began the day with what she enjoyed the most and delayed unwanted tasks for last. Thus, her day became progressively worse as it went along. The counselor recommended that she use her morning energy to do the more unpleasant tasks, thereby making the day progressively better with the more enjoyable tasks.

The key: delayed gratification requires patience. It means I show a willingness to delay an immediate reward in order to have a greater reward later. This woman’s fun task at work and her chocolate cake in and of themselves remain the same, early or later. But by using patience, she also reduces the amount of depression in her life.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Mike Patrick retired as Chaplain and Ministry Education Coordinator after 27 years at Hendrick Medical Center.

YES, VIRGINIA

By Danny Minton
Pastoral Minister and Elder
Southern Hills Church of Christ

September 21, 1897

Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon, 115 West Ninety-Fifth Street.

DannyMinton

Danny Minton

Thus begins the most well known editorial ever written in a newspaper. Most editorials are tossed out with the trash or end up at the bottom of a birdcage. Some of them may be stashed away for future reference, but are often lost and forgotten as generations pass. However, this one, written by Francis P. Church, over 100 years ago is read over and over every single year.

There’s at least one movie about it, and thousands of printings can be found folded in books, tucked away in drawers or neatly preserved and brought out every year in sermons or parties or blogs like this one. Search the Internet, and you’ll find page after page of references to it with all sorts of stories behind the story, some true, some fictional, but all based on this one little letter by an 8yearold girl.

In their innocence and purity, children have the uncanny ability to make adults stop and think about things they have ignored, taken for granted or about which they just outright hadn’t given too much thought. How does a lightning bug make light? Where do the stars go in the daytime? Where do babies come from? Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why doesn’t God just keep the old ones? In Bible times did they really talk like that? I was at a wedding, and they kissed. Is it okay to kiss in church?

At what age do we stop believing? At what age do we quit asking questions? At what age do we just become apathetic to the world in which we live? When did church become boring instead of a chance to talk about God? When did Christmas become a chore instead of a time to which we looked forward with eager expectations? When did life become more mundane and less of an adventure?

“You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Jesus told us unless we become like little children we will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3). Humility, purity, innocence, goodness and seeking to learn are but a few of the traits that are a part of each and every one of us at birth before the world starts to take hold. It is only when we begin to look at the world through the eyes of a child that we can truly see what it looks like.

Christmas is a time to think about what life is all about. It’s a time to focus on a baby born thousands of years ago in a purity that would never be tainted by the ways of the world and man. It’s a time to gather again those things we lost from within our hearts. It’s a time to start believing again.

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in rags and lying in a manger.”