Notes from the Pastor: December 2017

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Notes from the Pastor

Winter Solstice Celebration

December 20, 2017

Wednesday evening, December 20, 2017, will be the longest night of the year, known as the Winter Solstice for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere. This is the night that our part of the world has turned farthest from the sun, causing the cold days of winter. Ancient people were deeply conscious of this, and in northern regions they set aside this night for special prayers and lit fires to summon back the sun. The joy of this night is that each following day brings back a little more light, until the Summer Solstice in June heralds the return of summer warmth.

In the early centuries of Christianity, the darkness of wintertime came to be regarded as the time to celebrate the coming of Jesus, who brings the light of God into the darknesses of our world. This is the reason for the season of Advent and the holy celebration of Christmas at this time of year.

We invite all members and friends of St Philip’s to spend an early evening hour of the Winter Solstice together on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. Our service that evening will remember the Christian meaning of the Solstice, and will include the ceremony of lighting candles in prayer for our personal needs, our loved ones and the world, as well as the ancient rite of anointing for spiritual healing. The service will be held with all participants seated in a circle in the gathering area of the church, and following the Solstice Service there will be light refreshments and a time for fellowship.

Solstice worship is truly a beautiful occasion. We hope you will plan for it to be a special part of your own Advent/Christmas experience this year.

What Will You Do in the Morning on December 24?

This is one of those odd-feeling years when the fourth Sunday in Advent is also Christmas Eve. There’s no question what we’ll be doing that evening: We’re planning for Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship at 7:00 p.m., with Holy Communion, followed by the lighting of candles as we sing Silent Night together in remembrance of Jesus’ birth. But what will we be doing at 9:30 in the morning — our usual hour of worship?

Our plan at St Philip’s is to spend our morning worship hour in an informal celebration, lighting the Advent wreath, sharing the story of Christmas, singing our favorite Christmas carols to Mike’s accompaniment on the accordion, and enjoying some cookies or pastries together. Children are welcome, so it will be a good time for families to gather in our larger Christian family for a little light-hearted expression of joy in the Savior’s birth.