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And so we are on the verge of another holiday season with just over a month until Christmas as I write this. If you have been reading my articles over the years, I beg your indulgence as I again remind us of the complications of this time of year that has the potential to lift us up and to let us down. This year with COVID-19 is no exception! Most often, it does some combination of both, maybe even at the very same time.
Might we begin by noting that the decreased amounts of daylight and the restrictions on free movement brought about by longer nights and colder days do indeed have the potential to tamper with our energy levels and our outlook on things. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing that can sometimes be helped by light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication, as well as by engaging in various spiritual practices and seasonal liturgies.
Let us also be mindful that the intensity of expectations can easily and authentically be met with joy by some even as they are a source of varying degrees of pain and anguish for others whose loved ones have died, or who are otherwise separated or estranged from loved ones, or who cannot identify loved ones with whom they belong in the first place. Such mindfulness does not call us to repress or deny our feelings, only to live with sensitivity to the reality that others’ experiences may be vastly different than our own.
With all of that in mind, here are some of my hopes for the time immediately ahead:
I hope we will look deeper into this season and get past the pervasive materialism that has come to represent Christmas. And I hope we will be intentional about pondering deeper meanings.
I hope we will liberate the Spirit of Christmas from a very small portion of the year and instead live with the Spirit of Christmas every day of the year. (Let us not confuse setting the Spirit of Christmas free with starting earlier and earlier in the year with more aggressive marketing of the latest trending gadgets, fancy do-dads, and block-buster sales.)
I hope we will remember those for whom Christmas bears no significance, including people from other noble faith traditions and people with no religious tradition at all. We know that there are an increasing number of people who identity themselves in the latter group. In any case, can we agree that Christmas should not hurt other people or be used to drive a wedge between people or groups?
I hope we will give ourselves all the permission we need to set realistic hopes for what is about to happen and I hope we will find comfort when at least some aspects of reality fall short of our expectations and desires.
I hope we will take and make the time to begin these holidays with a time of thanks for all of the blessings in our lives, and for the fact that we have the opportunity to give thanks at all. It is never too late to celebrate!
And I hope we will find the hope, peace, love, and joy that are, through it all, still possible as we remember God coming into the world in a new way in the stories of a lit-tle baby, as we take that message to heart, and as we live that message in our daily lives.
This year we will have a variety of ways to worship during the holiday season. Come, take what you need, and give what you can.
On Christmas Eve, we will plan to have 3 worship services with a capacity of 70 people at each service. We will have a 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Christmas Eve Services. Reservations will be required. Please call the church office, by December 20th, to let us know what service you plan to attend. The 4 p.m. service will be geared to families with children. Details for Christmas Eve will be announced in my Christmas letter and weekly bulletin announcements.
And together we will welcome new hope, new light, and a brand new year!
Plattsburgh United Methodist Church
We Will Walk in the Way of Jesus as We
Grow Together and Transform the World with God’s Love.
· To open our arms, hearts and doors to all.
· To create and maintain for all a place of peace, learning, understanding and support.
· To refrain from judgment as we accept all people with love, tenderness, respect and compassion.
· To generously commit ourselves to mission, social justice and service in the community, nation and world.
· To bravely express our belief that there are many pathways into the sacred and choose Jesus as our pathway.
· To offer passionate worship for all.
We welcome all persons
into full participation in the life of our Christian community,
regardless of age, sex, racial or ethnic background,
sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental condition.
Worship at PUMC for Advent/Christmas During COVID-19
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus!
This Advent/Christmas, we plan to have deeply spiritual worship opportunities in the midst of this anxious time. We still plan to have Christmas Carols during worship, the church decorated for the Advent season, The Advent Candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love lit each week, the manger scene up front in the sanctuary, and so many other traditions that are part of the Advent/Christmas each year. Numerous Choir members will sing each week the hymns along with offering Special Advent/Christmas Songs. The Adirondack Liturgical Dance Troupe will participate in worship on December 13th along with a dancer participating on December 20th to a dramatic reading of Mary’s Magnificat! Please worship with us in person, on Vimeo, or on Facebook Live this holiday season!
In lieu of Christmas Decorations and Poinsettias this year, we are inviting you to participate in JCEO Adopt a Families program! There are many families experiencing hardship and we want to be able to support needy families. You can make a donation in honor or memory of a loved one. See details in the newsletter!
A reminder: We will monitor what is happening in our community in regards to COVID-19 and if for any reason we have to put a hold on in person worship we will inform the congregation by email in a timely manner. This includes Christmas Eve. It is our hope to be able to offer in-person worship opportunities throughout the Advent/Christmas season.
Here is a reminder of our COVID Guidelines for Sundays
Masks are required. We block off rows and pews so families, couples, and individuals can sit, but sit two rows apart and at least 8 feet away from other individuals or groups. We will continue to have Hosts available to guide you as you come into the sanctuary. You will be escorted by a host to a seat in the sanctuary. We will continue to have registration as you come for worship. We will all enter through the Chapel entrance and exit through the Welcome Area/Narthex area in the back of the sanctuary. All other entrance areas will stay locked on Sunday mornings. We know many of our congregation members have keys to the building, please use the entranceway and exit that we have set up for worship on Sundays. We ask that all park at the North entrance to our property. Save the closest parking spaces for those with disabilities or have trouble walking. Offering Boxes will be available at the entranceway and exit area for you to place your Sunday offering.
November 29 – 1st Advent - Hope
What would it mean to reshape and reclaim the Advent season from the current commercialized chaos it has become? As we enter this Advent season, let us remember the why, let us reclaim the who, and let us reshape the how, dismantling the current constructs that have shifted our focus from Love entering the world.
December 6 – 2nd Advent - Peace
Through story and healthy tradition that reveal God’s love to the world, we remind people of what has been. Let us drop the unnecessary. Let us break away from the stagnant and stale and be invigorated by reinforcing those practices that bear joy and cast our eyes upon the coming of the messiah.
December 13 – 3rd Advent - Joy
Rejoicing in God is not something we often intentionally do. We rejoice with friends and family at different events in our lives: a birthday celebration; an anniversary; the birth of a newborn. Sometimes after the celebration has ended, we take a moment to rejoice in what God has accomplished in our lives. What would be the impact of refocusing our joy?
December 20 – 4th Advent - Love
A child comes to us, “What can I do?” We say, “Use your imagination.” Yet we often resist our instincts to re-imagine the church. We reflect and romanticize the “good old days” and choose to remain rather than re-imagine. How might we awaken our imaginations and live into God’s love?
December 24 – Christmas Eve – Thursday evening!
We will have 3 worship services with a capacity of 70 people at each service. We will have a 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Christmas Eve Services. Reservations will be required at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.. Click below to make a reservation to the service you would like to attend! You can also call the church office, by December 20th, to let us know what service you plan to attend. The 4 p.m. service will be outside and will be geared to families with children. We plan to keep the early service brief and meaningful at the same time! Details for Christmas Eve will be announced in my Christmas letter and weekly bulletin announcements.
Please use the North/Chapel Entrance this year! All other entrances need to stay locked due to COVID-19 Guidelines.
Click below to make a reservation to the service you would like to attend!
December 25 – Christmas Day Worship – Friday at 9 a.m.!
Join Pastor Phil for a special Christmas Day worship service this year. After you open your gifts, come out to pray and celebrate. We will be here to worship on Christmas Day at 9 am!
December 27 – 1st Sunday of Christmas
Advent is complete, and the Christ has come. How might we, in this Christmas season, reaffirm the good news we waited to receive? How can we rename this redemptive act of God coming into the world, not letting the time pass by as though unimportant but living into a greater understanding of God’s workings in the world.