Advent Greetings to you Church!
It’s another soggy, rainy, wet day out, but I’m warm and cozy inside by the cookstove today. I’ve been knitting like a madwoman by the warmth of the stove for the past couple of weeks, making Christmas ornaments.
One thing I’ve realized for myself during the pandemic is how much my extended family means to me– and especially my aunts. So, I decided to articulate my appreciation by making them each something special for Christmas. The only complicating factor is that I have seven aunts– which is a lot of knitting! But that’s ok. It makes my heart happy to be able to make my Christmas presents, rather than buy them.
I wonder if you’re doing anything different this year in your gift giving routine as a result of the pandemic. If you want to tell me about it, I’d love to hear! Just drop me a line.
This week I have a number of things to tell you about:
Back in the fall we had discussed the possibility of going out caroling for Christmas. Session discussed it this week with Julie Miller (who volunteered to organize things) but we decided that it’s just not safe enough to do this right now. Thankfully, Julie had another idea. She’s going to solicit for some of us to record ourselves singing a song at home, and take all of those recordings (of those of us who are brave enough to participate), and splice them together to make a compilation. I offered to be one of those brave souls, and I hope you’ll at least consider it. I know that most of us don’t have beautiful singing voices, but if we all do it together, it might be a fun way to get to sing “together.” She will be emailing us all soon with details on this project.
The Giving Tree
Last week I had mentioned how to participate in the Giving Tree this year– by donating money directly to the Potsdam Holiday Fund (who will then purchase gift cards to give to the children). If you’d like to donate on their website, you’re welcome to do that. But you’re also welcome to do it the old fashioned way– by filling out a form and sending it in with your check.
If you’d like to send a check, there are special forms and accompanying envelopes on the table in the conference room. You are welcome to stop by anytime that Ron is here and pick one up. He’s got the doors unlocked M-F from 11am-4pm.
If you’d like donate online, here’s the link again: www.potsdamholidayfund.org
Friends, I have some hard news to share with you about Christmas Eve. Session met last night to discuss our plans for that evening, and it was decided to refrain from gathering together outside of the church building to sing. Every day Covid numbers are rising and the death toll climbs, and it’s just not worth jeopardizing anyone’s life. So this is what we will do instead: Keilor Kastella, Renee Stauffer, and I will record a cozy Christmas Eve celebration for all of us to participate in from our homes on Christmas Eve night. It will include instrumental Christmas music, the lighting of the advent candles, and a few Christmas readings.
Last week I told you that I promised that we would come together to sing outside, and I feel very sad to disappoint you. Even though it’s not going to happen for Christmas Eve, you have my word that we will gather together to do so when it is safe– even if it means we have to wait until July!
Accessing our Worship Services
It’s come to my attention that some of you are still having a hard time finding the service on our church’s Facebook page. So I wanted to let you know that there’s a second way to be able to watch the service. Just go to our church’s webpage, and you’ll find it located at the bottom of the home page. Dale Hobson updates it each week!
Here’s the link: www.potsdampresbyterian.org/
A Covid Book Group!
Last night at our monthly session meeting, folks were talking about how sad it is not to see each other right now, but out of that discussion came a creative seedling for a way to stay connected this winter– a book group!
Terry de la Vega is organizing it, and this is what she asked me to share with you about it:
This book group will be separate from the longstanding congregational book group that already exists, which some of you are part of. This one will focus itself on spiritual formation and last for just as long as it is needed during the pandemic. Terry would like to start with a book written by Sue Monk Kidd entitled Dance of The Dissident Daughter. She will buy a copy for the church, which you are welcome to borrow if it’s available. (Otherwise, the rest of us can either check copies out from the library system or buy a copy online. I recommend buying used books from betterworldbooks.com. Used copies often only cost $4-5 dollars, which makes it easier to afford to buy them.)
Terry would like to begin the group discussions in January and meet for 2-3 sessions to give ample time for discussion. This provides plenty of time for those of us interested in participating to locate the book and start reading! Please consider inviting friends who might be interested– they can be either local or distance because the group will meet via zoom.
If you’re interested in participating, email Terry to let her know. Her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear hearts, are you feeling as weary as I am right now? I have good weeks and bad weeks, but this has been a particularly terrible one for me and I completely fell apart a few days ago. It seems to happen for me after a build up of stress from reading the newspaper and worrying about how much closer Covid is inching in towards our little town, and realizing how much it is affecting my family. I’m feeling better today– now that I released all of my pent up emotions, but it reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to share with you.
I want for you to know that it’s ok to break down. It’s okay to fall apart– it’s okay to have yourself a good cry or a giant scream into a pillow. It’s ok to eat all of the ice cream in the house (at least on occasion), or to collapse under the covers and take a nap. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to manifest on the outside what we’re feeling on the inside. It’s an important type of truth telling, actually. It’s a way to acknowledge what we’ve been hiding from inside– afraid to let out.
God did not design us to be able to hold our big emotions inside. We’re not wired for that– which is why it’s necessary to let those feeling out when they start to pile up inside. You are no less of a man for saying aloud that you feel scared, or tired and weary. You are not a weak woman to admit that you’re struggling. Owning our feelings is actually a sign of strength. This type of vulnerability is the first step we have to take if we’re going to welcome God’s deep strength into our lives– the type of strength big enough to hold us together when we aren’t strong enough to save ourselves.
This week I invite you to fall apart if you need to. Tell someone what you’re struggling with if that helps. Or write down all of your feelings on a piece of paper and then burn it up. Or go out into the woods and howl with the coyotes. None of this will change our circumstances, it’s true, but this honest talk will serve as a balm that soothes your soul.
As the Psalmist says:
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you…”~Psalm 55:22
Passing you the box of Kleenex,