December Pastor’s Corner

“Making merry,” is a wonderful expression, if you take it seriously. It can mean more than a Holiday Party after the Secret Santa exchange at the office. It can mean that in the midst of increasing pressure, fear, anxiety, need and grief, we make, literally, make our way toward hope: God breaking into history with a word of love and freedom for suffering humankind. Hope isn’t easy. It’s not optimism. It’s a decision to choose love over very real fear. I hope you will read Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew’s writing on later pages, as our Advent Prospectus begins and ends with the message of the angels to, “Fear not.” Why? Because fear is not our Ruler. Fear is not the last word. That would be love.

And we are about the works and wonder of love this Christmas Season. You will find a calendar of Advent Sundays and the Christmas Eve plans following this note. Pictured above is the Maker’s Desk presently near the front of the sanctuary. It contains hand-made marvels and practicalities…and a few other kinds of makings. You can see “Love Grows Here” embroidered in bright colors on a dish towel and the tiny image of Jesus on the resting thaumatrope beside it. The candle table is blanketed by a quilted runner, and many of you will recognize objects on the shelves, waiting to be savored and explored. The truth is that we are such prolific makers, there will only be time for a selection of the glories.

We choose to make and to share. That is a recipe for “merry,” in a deep and hopeful and loving sense of the word. We also make decisions, and I very much hope you will choose to be part of the conversation after worship on the 12th of December when we talk about the possibility of the congregation going forward with a three-quarters time pastor. The proposed idea is that in 2022 we would request what is called an incremental adjustment in the clergy appointment at PPUMC to three-quarters time. Some of you may recall that the move to a full-time pastor was made as Rev. Elton Brown transitioned away from PPUMC. We are being presented the opportunity to explore a model for leadership that aligns our values with our resources, plans and possibilities.

This new way forward will take some making. We’ll need to identify priorities. We’ll need to be oh so very honest about our capacities. In the process we’ll make some measuring sticks, by which I mean, we’ll build some marks to measure by. We’ll want to know what works. We may need to tinker. So, we’ll talk after worship on the 12th – and make a decision.

The next Sunday, after worship on the 19th (which will feature an online, interactive, DIY Christmas pageant you will hear more about very soon!!) we will hold a Charge Conference, a business meeting, to approve staff compensation and overall budget for 2022. We will call to order, hear about the budget, and take a vote. Then we’ll make a heart basket – I’ll demonstrate the fourth of our Advent paper makings – for those who remain to chat.

On Christmas Eve the sanctuary will be filled with prayerful stations, so that your household may come and go as you like during the afternoon, experiencing the sacred wonder. I will be there throughout, and others will join for a time, too. This will be friendly to guests and visitors, as well. Then, at 4:00 we will have a candlelight service featuring the gospel narrative of love over fear that brings us together. God, putting on humanity like a mitten and reaching in and stirring our hearts, and minds and souls back to life. Making of us vessels of hope, peace, joy, and, as promised, the last word: love.

Blessings of wild wonder,
Pastor Chris