Advent 4 and Christmas Eve, Year B

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Title:Advent 4 and Christmas Eve, Year B

 Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, Advent 4 and Christmas Eve (full size gallery)

Christmas Eve turned cloudy in the mid-40’s with rain later. We had 51 for the service.

The readings were here and the bulletin here

Of note within the church were "cherry tree toppers" used as ornaments toward the rear of the church from Fraser Wood Elements in Fredericksburg. Cookie outdid herself with the poinsettia in the windows with nandina and pine. The red candles complemented them well.

Music is part of Christmas. Marily brought her harp and Nancy joined in on soprano for one piece. The choir presented "In the Bleak Midwinter" at the offertory. Brad’s prelude was "Unto to us a child is born." We normally sing "Angels we have heard on High" but it was the postlude this year.

We had numerous visitors. Cherry had her "hugging shirt" and she was busy doing that.

Catherine presented Luke 2 reading for memory as well her sermon. We have a selection from it under the videos. The intimacy of St. Peter’s gives everyone a front row seat. The story of William Weaver and the stolen bike brought all into several themes of Christmas in the sermon.

The sermon used a storycorp story as the foundation for Christmas truths. A boy’s bike is stolen and wants to confront the thief. Learning of the thief’s economic situation, the family gave away part of their family to the thief’s family.

"This story is the good news of Christmas– the story of open doors and open hearts, forgiveness, and unexpected generosity."

Major themes 1. Care for others– "But what he found out was that the bike he had stolen and then had to return was given back to him along with so much more—food, and warmth and knowing that someone cared…Just as William’s mother divided up the food she had prepared for her family and in so doing provided food for an old man and his hungry grandson, Jesus also multiplied loaves and fish, fed the hungry, thousands of them, just as he continues to feed us today when we accept the gift of his love. There’s always more than enough food and enough love to go around. "

2. Anti-violence. "So often we get angry over the injustices of life and want to even the score, a perfectly human emotion. But in the Christmas story, Joseph, who suffered the injustice of having his beloved Mary give birth to a child not his own, did what God asked and responded in love, loving and caring for Jesus as his own. And on that Christmas Eve in 1967, William’s father chose a different way to deal with a wrong, and did what Jesus did so often. He took the time to look and listen, to see for himself the poverty in that old man’s life, and then to meet the need that he found standing there in front of him. "

3. Dealing with being in "cold, dark places" "For all of us at some point or another find ourselves in cold dark places in our lives, with nowhere to turn. Depressed, helpless, and hopeless, we hide ourselves away. But this old man, not knowing what to expect, answered the door—and righted a wrong without any thought of repayment when he made his grandson return the stolen bike. And then the old man answered the door again, surely wondering who was at the door this time, and found waiting for his grandson a bike, freely given, and for him, food, fuel, money, and love."

4.Opening the door to others.  "How often do we refuse to open the door to something new and wonderful in our lives because our lives are already so full? How often do we shut the door to someone in need because we’re already so busy?

"And yet, God is always asking us to open our doors to those who knock, to open our doors to love, to new possibilities, and to resurrection hope, both when we believe we already have too much, but also when we are feeling hopeless because we are poor and have nothing, and need the help of a cane to get to the door, like that old man who lived in the cold dark shack. "

Like the shepherds, William witnessed the birth of joy and peace and hope, not at the manger, but at the open door of a poor and humble shack. And like the shepherds, he had to tell this story, to make his own little bit of good news known.

The service ended with the traditional "Silent Night" with candles. We have a selection from it under the videos. Blessings all this Christmas season!

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