Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A new way to subject folks to the xmas newsletter!

Every year for at least the past 10, I've written an essay as the front page of a holiday newsletter. My husband merely tolerates this (though he always serves as a good editor). Sometimes he even helps me fold it, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't go in the cards he send to his friends. Now I realize that blogging expands my reach, I can subject more folks to the Christmas newsletter. And I realize that these annual essays were really just an analog blog.

Here's this year's essay:

Christmas gifts

It was the Monday a week before Christmas and I had just finished leading a Bible study at the San Diego Rescue Mission. From the opposite end of a long hallway, another volunteer greeted me with this question, almost shouting:
“Are you ready for Christmas?”

I immediately shook my head, drooped my shoulders and shouted back down the hallway: “No,” thinking of the packages still not wrapped and sent to Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas, thinking of the Christmas cards not addressed, thinking that I still had no clue what my husband might like for Christmas, knowing I had run out of time already to do many of the little things I had imagined doing with and for family and friends.

And then, sustained by a spirit within me, I tapped my chest with my finger, smiling broadly, and shouted back: “Well, yes, in my heart.”

I have already enjoyed so many experiences of Christmas this Advent season, that the holiday already feels rich with love and joy and gifts.

One of the earliest gifts was the experience of serving communion to families at an evening Advent event in early December. It was joyful serving families kneeling at the altar, some sharing communion together for the first time. The love of God was embodied for me in those families.

Later that week, with my mother in town to share this joy, we watched Ryan’s last Christmas show at the preschool where he now attends kindergarten. He was Joseph (depicted on our Christmas card with a classmate as Mary). The gifts of that evening included a costume lovingly created by a woman who is both my friend and Ryan’s.

More recently, that Rescue Mission Monday, I experienced the joy of sharing in lessons and carols with the women who live at the mission. It was a simple but glorious time of sharing in the scripture story of Christmas and singing the carols. It was bare in comparison to the lessons and carols we’ll hear at our Christmas Eve services, but it was just as beautiful. During prayer time, many of the women requested prayers for the holiday season, but one woman asked, instead, for prayers that her daughter have a good birthday. I asked when her daughter’s birthday was. Christmas, she said, adding, “That was the best Christmas gift I ever got. She’s 24 and every year I remember that wonderful gift.” I asked her daughter’s name. It is Noel.

I have already experienced God’s presence in many ways this Christmas. My hope is that you, too, share many moments of Emmanuel – God with us. May the gifts of the season be yours.

And in the blogging world, I could go on and on, listing many more Emmanuel moments. But I won't. I still have to write page 2 of the newsletter, but I won't subject you to that -- unless, of course, you're on my mailing list.



RevErikaG said...

What a gift...thanks Karen!
I think next year my Xmas letter will be on the blog!

molly said...

Noel: a christmas song (see also Nowel)
Nowel: a word shouted or sung as an expression of joy, originally to commemorate the birth of Christ. Now only as retained in old Christmas carols. OR the feast of Christmas or Christmastide OR a Variant of either "newel" or "novel."

Novel: Something new; a novelty OR News, tidings, OR a piece of news OR a fictitious prose narrative of tale of considerable length (now usually one long enough to fill one or more volumes), in which characters and actions representative of the real life of past or present times are portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity. (The definitions go on.)

Seems to me, you've been singin' "noel" all your career. (And need I remind you that you've long been a Clark?)

My apologies to the OED for this simplification. I'm enjoying the beauty of a life that moves from proclaiming community solutions to the good news of Christ, and how it may all just be "noel."

Noel, indeed.