Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas 2005

“tis the day after Christmas…
But we like to stretch the holy day out as long as we can.
We really miss being “pastors” at this time of year. From decking the halls the Sunday after Thanksgiving, to the Advent wreath, caroling, and a Silent Night, Holy Night candle Lite service (Isaiah 60 and John 1), we really miss shepherding a church family. This Christmas we attended 3 different services at three very different churches. Each was beautiful and each brought back found memories as well as giving us good ideas for the time, if and when, we are allowed to put together Christmas Services again.
The church that we currently call home is an Assembly of God church on the Navajo Reservation. It is not a “mission church” but rather one of the few self-supporting churches on the “rez”. Our pastoral leadership decided to do our Holy-day service on Friday night and give the congregation the weekend off. The sanctuary was very Christmasy, lights and tinsel everywhere. First we sang some carols and “Glory to God” songs to the strains of the electric guitar. Then some little angels - under my direction - did a flag “dance” to Oh Come all Ye Faithful, and Joy to the World. It looked really nice, even though at parts they were too close together and the flags tapped each other. Then the dance team danced to “Oh Come oh Come Emmanuel” followed by the Pastor reading the Christmas Story and then the Navajo Choir sang some carols in Navajo. We ended with cookies and coco and gave out the traditional Navajo Treat bags - an apple, orange, hard candy and peanuts. It was a nice family type service. One of our Christmas traditions, since we moved to the Four Corners Region, has been to go to Midnight Mass at the local Episcopal Church. Father Carl is a wonderful brother in the LORD and a good friend. The Church is small, and very traditional in style, like something out of medieval England. Candles and wreaths, and incense, and a choir in robes all add to the total experience. The first time we went I was surprised at how “Catholic” the service was. I still remembered some of the prayers.
Sunday morning we attended a tiny church that friend’s of ours have been helping with. It is a very typical church for these parts. A tiny sanctuary that could hold 50 at best. Their worship was bilingual, two carols in Navajo, followed by two carols in English. Most of the people in the congregation Christmas day were the children and grandchildren of the Pastor - visiting from Mississippi.
The church was affiliated with the United Methodist Denomination, a mission church, and the service was very “old Methodist” in style.
The “order of worship” was strait from the old time UM handbook. Complete with pastoral prayer for the “unspoken” needs of the congregation and a special anthem by the choir. Someone told someone that this was the way Church was supposed to be, so that was the way Church was. It was nice. A tiny little church trying to be a model mainline church. Not really practical, but nice. And we were made to feel really welcome. It was Christmas after all.
I think tonight we are going to have another Church service, in our front room. Some friends are coming over for pizza. She is bringing her guitar, so Pastor Art, Ardy, and she will be playing some worship music…Maybe Pastor Art will forgo his guitar for the drums or native flute…and we always get around to discussing our favorite topic, The Bible - and it’s author. It will be like one of “those” emergent services. Sharing a hymn, a spiritual song, a psalm. Encouraging one another to grow in the Knowledge of the Spirit, praying for one another. Yep, sounds like Church to me.
To any and all who may stop by…Remember, Isaiah 60 and John 1. Let the true light shine through you into this dark world,
And “God bless us everyone”
Maryellen - Pastor Art’s wife - 26 years and counting.

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