NEWSLETTER - The Anchor
Ready or not, here comes Christmas.
And just in time we have a new movie now in theaters, “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” It’s the story of Charles Dickens and how he came to write “The Christmas Carol” with the powerful images of Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.
In Dickens’ time there was an enormous gap between the rich and the poor. Dickens’ story put a scratch in the shiny pursuit of greed. A great theme for our times where the super rich have as much wealth as 90% of Americans. Don’t be surprised that Dickens wrote this story partially because he was trying to get out of debt for his own excessive spending.
Christmas existed long before Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’ which was published just before Christmas in 1843. A quick look at the Christmas Carols in our ELW hymnal show many were written in the 1800’s; yet several carols come from an early time such as Luther’s, “From Heaven Above” (ELW 268). Alsofrom the early 1500’s, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (ELW 272). My favorite “very old” carol is “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” (ELW 295). The author lived from 348 to 413 A.D.
The Christian commemoration of Jesus’ birthday has been around since the fourth century (300-399 AD). Many in the early church thought Mary gave birth in the springtime, with March 25 often cited. This date interfered with Eastertime. Christians in Rome prevailed by co-opting or re-purposing the local decadent Roman traditions which involved lots of alcohol, etc. to celebrate the winter solstice (then on Dec. 25). The imagery of Jesus birth being like a great light arising in the growing darkness that comes late in the year was a powerful image. With an existing holiday atmosphere and great symbolism the date for Christmas was soon established regardless of when Jesus was actually born.
Dickens’ Christmas Carol also co-opted or diverted the culture of greed in his time by giving a sharp rebuke to unchecked greed and by supporting family traditions like a Christmas meal (Christmas Eve or Day), a Christmas tree, and gift giving.
In the last 60 years commercial interests have co-opted and popularized Christmas to increase sales for gift giving. Everywhere Christmas songs are played to induce us to buy, buy, buy. Popular culture forces on us a self-centered materialistic ‘reason for the season’ of Christmas. (See the new “Whispers” Lexus ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQRLzJTg-h8 )
After Greening the church last Sunday, I visited with someone from the neighborhood, who saw Hope’s Christmas lights and star was delighted. While I think of balancing on the ladder to get the lights put up; others see the inspiring lines of our building highlighted. For a moment something grand and beautiful interrupts, us. Seeing Christmas lights may be visual noise, or perhaps be a moment of spiritual urging us towards the Christian message of ‘justice’, ‘mercy’ and ‘renewal’. Perhaps Christmas lights will help us proclaim the Good News of Jesus. The fragile baby Jesus entered a broken world with wealth disparity. As he grew, he was not seduced by this world’s violence and greed. He held to values of justice, love and mercy as revealed by his Cross.
The four weeks of Advent before Christmas are about making a place in our hearts for Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. These ‘spiritual’ qualities overcome selfish greed, and the disregard for those different than us. This world, full of troubles and pain, can only be renewed by a spiritual transformation. This is what that little baby Jesus inspires as we once again look into the manger.
I’m looking forward to a Dickens inspired family gathering this Christmas, especially with my new granddaughter. I want to soak it all in even as I host the dinner this year.
The real spirit of Christmas is that God in Christ is renewing individual hearts. God re-purposes us, so we can overcome the violence and greed within us and around us. That cute little baby Jesus gets our attention. He calls us to a pathway of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.
May you have a meaningful Advent and a joyous Christmas!
John Sullivan, Pastor
P.S: Thanks to all who “greened” the church after worship on Nov. 26. Many hands got the things ready and then enjoyed a tasty lunch.
Earlier this evening I had dinner at Martha’s Kitchen, located at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. While I was dining I spoke with some of the folks and families that had shared their Thanksgiving (our second annual held at CGS) with us last week. As I visited, it seemed to me that our relationship was different; more familiar, closer maybe? Those that shared their Thanksgiving with us seemed to really have had a time of good food and great fellowship. The volunteers at Martha’s corroborated this, saying that everyone they spoke with seemed to have had a really nice time. As I drove people home last Thursday, some stated that this had been one of the best days they had had all year. Others stated that the event lifted their spirits and that maybe their situation would get better. In October 2017 people were talking about the Thanksgiving we hosted in 2016. It is a wondrous feeling to be part of something that gives people such joy and it is a sobering feeling to be part of something that maybe one of the few times when they feel joy during the year. It is this last bit that is especially poignant for me during the Advent season.
It is during Advent that we remember the miracle of that little family so long ago; A little family, not unlike all little families throughout time, just trying to make it. They were a little family trying to find a place to stay. They were a little family fleeing the powers of this world that sought to destroy them. They were a little family just trying to find a place in the world where they could settle, safe and secure. They were a mother and father, just trying to find a place where their child could grow up safe. They were a mother and father doing everything within their powers, to the point of disobeying the law, and fleeing to another land, to keep their child safe. They were a little family who returned home as soon as it was safe, for home is where they wanted to be. They were a little family who, I imagine, thought that everything was going to turn out ok until it didn’t, and they lost an adult child. They were a little family not unlike so many families throughout time. They were a little family not unlike little families today, just trying to make their way.
It is my prayer this Advent that all these little families, where ever they may be, whatever their situation may be, be treated as we wished that little family so many years ago in Israel had been treated and that we seek ways to give these little families a place to live, so that they may leave that modern manger, a car. If they leave their homeland because it is dangerous, that we see them with eyes softened by compassion, not eyes hardened by this world.
Advent is a time of hope. Let us share this hope with all of God’s people.
JOY, JOY, JOY! It is the beginning of the Advent season, waiting for the birth of our Christ child, with all the glorious bright lights popping up everywhere, and folks running around shopping for a multitude of Christmas presents! Deck the halls!
First we must eat our through Thanksgiving before we roll into Christmas! I love the problem of attempting to watch the diet Thanksgiving all day long… and I fail miserably. More walking is in order big time! But who can walk? Well, I have to walk to shop; no, I don’t. I shop online! So I spread.
To be honest, I shop the year round hitting all the sales, hiding presents all over my apartment. Come Christmas I can’t find some, so they make good birthday presents! Oh well; it was a great buy! I truly enjoy the giving- the opening of the gift, the smiles and laughter of joy as they see it! It is really fun!
But let us not lose sight of the purpose of the true joy and fun of the season- the anticipation of Jesus’ arrival on earth! Oh, on Christmas Eve, the thrill of bells, crisp air, singing carols, friends and neighbors at church, and lighting the candles at midnight! Oh come all ye faithful! Going home to crawl into the warm pajamas before opening that first and only present; placing cookies and milk out for Santa before sleepily jumping into bed. Silent night, Holy night!
I grew up with my father, the commander, on New Year’s Day hosting the traditional Army open house for the staff and friends; I always was enlisted to serve. As a result, I later held my own as the wife, then continued even here in San José until the completion with other events became too strong. I miss the joy of having the annual event! I love to party!
Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! And especially a Happy New Year to all!
The Rebecca Circle will gather on Monday, December 18th, at 10:30 a.m. at the home of Laura Clark-Moore.. If you would like to carpool, call the church office.
All women are welcome. Come, join this great group of women!
The Men’s Breakfast group will gather on Saturday, Dec. 9th., at 8:00 a.m. at Sara’s Kitchen in Santa Clara for their regular monthly breakfast .The food is delicious, the fellowship is wonderful, this time together is contagious, Spend this last 2017 breakfast together!
Get ready for a new year of great Saturday breakfasts!
Christmas Eve Worship
Candlelight Festival Worship
Fourth Sunday in Advent
There will be regular Sunday morning worship on Dec. 24th a5 9:30 am as we celebrate the 4th Sunday in Advent.
Poinsettias for our Altar
It’s that time of the year again when we start thinking of Christmas! We will soon be taking orders for poinsettias. Plants may be taken home following the Christmas Eve worship.
You may purchase a poinsettia(s) for our altar beginning on Sunday, November 26th. Watch the bulletin for the cost of this year’s plants.
When ordering your poinsettia(s), please remember to indicate how you would like your poinsettias donated for: in honor or in memory of a loved one or a special occasion. You may use the envelopes that are in the pew racks. Make checks payable to Hope Lutheran Church and mark, “poinsettias”.
Our annual Christmas Smorgasbord will be held on Saturday, December 9th, at 6:00 p.m.
As has been our tradition for this wonderful dinner, delicious Scandinavian foods will be brought by members and friends of Hope. The Smorgasbord committee will provide the ham, Swedish meatballs, scalloped potatoes, and beverages. We might get Pastor John to bring that old “favorite”, Lutefisk!
Wine will not be provided, but you may bring your own wine if you so desire.
Cost is $10.00 a person plus bringing a food dish from our Smorgasbord menu or helping in some way (children under 12 - free). You may begin to sign up to bring your favorite Scandinavian dish (or to help in some way) on Sunday, November 12th.
Help is needed for coordinating the dinner, set up, hall decorating, some of the cooking (ham, purchasing the Sweden meatballs, etc.). If you can help, call the church office.
Preparing the Way
Ways to get ready for Jesus this Advent Season!
Decorating your home inside or out with lights, candles, nativity scenes and Christmas ornaments tells all who visit you that Advent for you is about awaiting the Light of the World, the Christ Child who came to make himself at home in our lives.
Much of our time during Advent involves searching for and wrapping the “perfect” gifts for friends and loved ones. But as we prepare our gifts for others, we need to keep reminding ourselves that our gift-giving represents God’s giving of the greatest Gift of all, Jesus, wrapped in flesh.
Spending time with Scripture and in prayer during the Advent season keeps our hearts in touch with the heartbeat of God, who is pouring out his love to us in Jesus Christ and desiring that we grow to know God’s Son more.
When you start decorating your home for Christmas this Advent, consider ways that you can highlight your Jesus-related decorations more prominently by shining a spotlight on your nativity scenes or hanging all your Christ-centered ornaments toward the front of your Christmas tree. When you receive Christmas cards with Bible verses or images of the Christmas story on them, place those cards in areas of your home where they can be seen more readily — on your coffee table, kitchen counter or refrigerator door, for example.
As you wrap your gifts, you might want to add a gift tag with a Bible verse on it or with a personal message of love to a friend or family member. Reminding each other the reason why we give helps to turn us away from the tendency in our culture during this time of year to think only of the personal satisfaction we might (or might not) receive from our gifts.
Set aside time in your schedule each day of Advent to read from Scripture or say a prayer, alone or with friends and family. Since our time is so rushed during this time of year, it is important that we slow down to simply be with God and dwell on God’s Word. To help you take time when you are praying and reading Scripture, think about taking off your watch or covering up your clock.
The Right and Home office in Santa Clara is always seeking innovation ways to bring quality care services to the residents of Santa Clara County.
Senior Care Authority knows that finding assisted living or other care for a loved one can be a stressful and difficult time. They are an organization of trained professionals working to locate the safest and most reliable places for seniors to live and be cared for.
If you are looking for alternatives of caring for an elder loved one, check out the information packet that is available on the credenza in the narthex.
Or you can call Salieda Meeks, Client Care Coordinator, at 408,496-0833, for more information.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Annual Meeting of the members of Hope Lutheran Church will be held on Sunday, January 28, 2018 in Knutsen Hall. All members are invited and expected to attend in person. Council will be hosting a brunch before the meeting..
Reports will be made from the Budget and Nominating Committees and from the Treasurer and Council Committees. The election of council members will be held.
Any new topic for discussion must be submitted to the council president, Suzanne Barnes or the church office no later than Sunday, January 14th.
Annual Reports will be available to the congregation on Sunday, January 21st, for review.
YOU ARE IMPORTANT! YOUR VOICE COUNTS!! YOU ARE NEEDED!!
YOUR CHURCH WANTS YOU!!
Mark your calendars and make plans to be on hand at the meeting. You'll also enjoy a delicious brunch hosted by our church council and the fellowship of our church family.
A message from Lutheran Social Services
October 31st marked the 500th anniversary of the reformation, out of which the Lutheran social ministry grew. Today, there are more than 300 Lutheran social service organizations across the country, touching the lives of one in 40 Americans each year. LSS of Northern California is your social ministry, serving more than 3,500 formerly homeless adults, former foster youth and families every day. We provide stable housing and compassionate guidance that assists in their journey to self-sufficiency and becoming engaged, productive members of their communities.
Luther set out to reform the Roman Catholic Church in 1517, but his focus wasn't just on the church. He also created a new approach to service. At the time, the Pope and certain bishops insisted that believers needed to make gifts or purchase special dispensations - indulgences - to secure their salvation. Luther argued that because we are saved by grace, in gratitude, we are free to serve others. Together with the Wittenberg Council he established the Common Chest, the first social services agency in Europe. The Chest provided funds to assist orphans, women and children, paid for education and vocational training and provided medical services.
We extend our appreciation for your support or our neighbors affected by the October wildfires! We appreciate your continued prayers and donations this holiday season.
Associate Director, Mt Cross _____________________________________________________________________________Ministri______________________________________________________________________________es