Christmas is almost here! The busyness of the season is in full swing, I know, and that is certainly the case here at First Pres over the next few days. But in the midst of that busyness, I hope that you will both seek and find time for reflection, celebration, and simply “being” with others rather than being swallowed by all the “doing” that tends to happen at this time of year.

To that end, there are several special opportunities to do just that in the life of the church over the next few days, and I want to encourage you to take advantage of those as Advent comes to a close and the Christmas celebrations begin.

This Sunday is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, of course, and we will be observing that in the regular worship services Sunday morning. And I don’t want to move too quickly past that, which is tempting throughout Advent, but particularly as Christmas draws so close.

So as Advent comes to an end, I invite you to be intentional about that ending. One way to do so is to read an excellent reflection on the meaning of Advent that was published by an Anglican priest at the start of Advent; you can read it here. It beautifully captures the power of Advent as a season with its own power and as a means of equipping us to more fully cherish the joy and hope embodied in Christ’s birth.

After worship services on Sunday morning, we begin moving into Christmas. That begins on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. with the Christmas Joy Concert offered by the Chancel Choir. This is a festive and beautiful offering for which our choir has worked long and hard in preparation; they will be joined by our Chancel Ringers Handbell Choir and Children’s Christmas Choir, and guests, the Charter Arts High School Touring Choir and Elysium String Quartet. It will be a wonderful way to pivot towards Christmas, and I hope you will make a special effort to join me in attending.

Christmas Eve, of course, is our highest day of celebrating Christ’s birth. We will again be offering three services that evening; each service includes a candlelight observance while singing “Silent Night,” and the same sermon will be preached at each, as well. So it is a matter of which service is best for you.

The services at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. will follow a “Lessons and Carols” format for most of the service, while the service at 11 p.m. is a Christmas Communion service, with carols as the hymns. The service at 5 p.m. will include our Contemporary Worship Band for prelude music and an anthem, and the Children’s Christmas Choir and Chancel Ringers will also provide special music. The 7:30 p.m. service includes the Chancel Choir and guest, Hill to Hill Brass Quartet. Child care is available for the 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. services. Whatever service you choose, it will be an evening of joyful celebration.

I look forward to being in worship with you this Sunday and on Christmas Eve if you are in town; if you are traveling, know that you are in our prayers as you do so, and I hope it is a merry and blessed Christmas for you wherever you may be!

Grace and Peace,