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Surely you’ve heard rumblings about a supposed “war on Christmas.” Well-intentioned folks have been in an uproar about red Starbucks cups and glaciers instead of Christmas trees at SouthPark Mall. Frankly, I see very little connection between a star printed on a coffee cup or the Christmas displays in shopping malls with the Feast of the Nativity, commonly referred to as Christmas. I find it difficult to connect the Birth of Christ with anything that is commercial.
Now, I’m not trying to be the Grinch here. I like to give and receive Christmas presents as much as anyone else, and there is sacred value in the occasions for social gatherings that the holiday season affords us. But I question how much of that merry-making is relevant to the Feast of the Nativity, in which we bow to the mystery of God taking on human flesh with such humility. Jesus was born in a manger among farm animals to parents who were likely just getting by.
So this year, I am trying an experiment. I am deliberately using the phrase “the Feast of the Nativity” to denote the sacred mystery the Church is preparing to celebrate: the coming of God into our midst as a helpless baby. For those things that are related to material “stuff” of the holiday season, I continue to use the word Christmas. My intention with this little discipline is to orient my heart to praise our humble Lord, instead of the temptation to praise all the “stuff” that goes along with this hectic but beautiful time of year.
My prayer is that worship at St. Peter’s this Advent season will help us to find the quiet, serenity, and space to welcome the One whose birth leads the angels to sing “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.”
–The Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector
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Greening of the Church: Wednesday, December 23, beginning at 10:00 a.m., all ages are invited to share in this time of cleaning the church, polishing the brass and silver, and preparing our sacred space for Christmas with candles, wreaths, garlands and poinsettias. Come for the entire time (approximately 2:00 p.m. or until we are finished) or come when your schedule permits. Bring a bag lunch if you would like. Contact Mary Virginia Woodall (firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-749-6151) if you have questions or want to participate.
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Christmas Memorials: If you would like to honor or memorialize a loved one by offering a donation for Christmas decorations or special music at St. Peter’s, the deadline is noon on Monday, December 14. You may email details about who you wish to memorialize to Mary Virginia Woodall (email@example.com, 704-749-6151) and follow up by mailing your donations to Parish Administrator Leigh Dixon, 115 West Seventh Street, Charlotte, NC 28202. Or you may make donations online.
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New Vestry Members: Newly-elected members of the Vestry, St. Peter’s Lay Leadership Council) are Paige Ghareeb, John Hall, Michael Koppenal, and Bert Miano. Our thanks to them for their willingness to serve the Parish beginning in 2016 and concluding at the end of 2018.
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Date/Time Change for Chronic Illness Support Group: This open group will be to meet on Friday mornings from 11:00 a.m.-Noon on the second Friday of the month, beginning this Friday, December 11. Together we share our spiritual journeys, trusting that our deepest well-being comes from God. If you have questions about this group, contact The Rev. Joslyn Schaefer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just come join us for a meeting in the Parlor.
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Poinsettia Delivery to Homebound Parishioners: The Pastoral Care Team seeks volunteers to deliver poinsettias to our homebound parishioners during Christmas week. This ministry truly shares our Christmas joy. If you are interested in this ministry, contact Magen Hung (email@example.com, 704-749-6150).
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New Ministry Partner: Parishioner and Episcopal Missioner for Social Justice and Advocacy Engagement, Charles A. (Chuck) Wynder, Jr. will be a presence in the Parish House beginning this month as part of a ministry consultation with St. Peter’s. Chuck’s many gifts, in addition to his ordination process through the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, allow him to partner with us in ministry that aligns with our parish vision.
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Re-Imagining Bethlehem: On Sunday, December 20, the Advent study, The Light Will Shine: Re-Imagining Bethlehem, will continue at 9:30 a.m. in the Parish Hall. Join Parishioners Jan Keny and Josephine Hicks as they invite us to re-imagine the place of Jesus’ birth, using photos from their recent trip to the Holy Land with Episcopal Relief and Development. This presentation will conclude our Advent Study, “The Light Will Shine.”
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The Choir School Christmas Concert: Tidings of Comfort and Joy is the theme for the Christmas concert by The Choir School at St. Peter’s on Friday and Saturday, December 11 and 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the church. This annual holiday concerts features all five choirs performing sacred and secular pieces in celebration of the season. General admission tickets are $5 for children and $15 for adults, with priority seating available (Friday only) for blocks of four tickets at $100. http://www.thechoirschool.org/tickets/
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Center City Concert: The Christmas Choral Concert by the St. Peter’s Chamber Choir will be on Monday, December 21, at noon. Conducting will be Rob Burlington, head of Music and Arts at Canon School. The concert will feature favorite Christmas carols and anthems, opportunities to sing along, and the presentation of a work commissioned for St. Peter’s, The Risk of Birth, based on American Christmas poetry and composed by American composer Michael Sitton, with accompaniment by a woodwind quintet.
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Ministry of Hospitality Training: Are you a St. Peter’s Usher or Host? Or are you interested in getting involved in welcoming newcomers and others as part of this this important Ministry of Hospitality? Please join us for a short training session on Sunday, December 13, following the 10:45 a.m. service, to learn ideas based on the Invite/Welcome/Connect Project. St. Peter’s is well-known for its radical hospitality and this focus on the Ministry of Hospitality is essential to maintaining St. Peter’s reputation for making newcomers feel welcome and at ease, especially during this busy season. We will meet in the chapel for a session, lasting about 45 minutes. For more information, contact Nelda Leon (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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Senior Class Luncheon: On Tuesday, December 15, at 11:30 a.m., St. Peter’s members 55-plus will have their monthly Senior Class Luncheon at The Open Kitchen, 1318 West Morehead Street. Contact Jay or Barbara Partington (704-523-1831) or Hannah Craighill (704-334-6276).
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Youth Lock-In: Outreach and Ice Skating Lock-in for J2A begins at 4:00 p.m. on December 19 and continues through 4:00 p.m. on December 20.
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White Beard Project: The deadline for bringing gift items for the Advent Tree in the Parish House Lobby is Sunday, December 13. The White Beard project supports residents of McCreesh Place and Supportive Housing Communities, who were once homeless and are now working toward self-sufficiency.
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Christmas Tree Sale: Christmas trees from The Choir School at St. Peter’s may be picked up at the lot at 1312 East Boulevard through Sunday, December 20, 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. The trees, fresh from the North Carolina mountains, range in size from 4-10 feet. Learn more about this fundraiser online.
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Holiday eNews Deadlines: To make sure you have all the information you need to participate fully in the holiday season at St. Peter’s, the eNews will be published on Monday, December 20. If you have news for that issue of the eNews, please send it no later than Thursday, December 17, to Communications Administrator Peg Robarchek (email@example.com, 704-749-6141). If your news needs to be in the service leaflets during Christmas week, the deadline is 8 a.m. on Monday, December 14. The deadline for the eNews and service leaflets the week following Christmas is Wednesday, December 22.
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Advent Study: In the Parish Hall this Sunday, December 13, from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., the Advent Study, The Light Will Shine, continues with an exploration of John the Baptist and his message of judgment and hope, led by The Reverend Joslyn Schaefer.
The Advent Study concludes on Sunday, December 20, with Re-imagining Bethlehem. Join Parishioners Jan Keny and Josephine Hicks as they invite us to re-imagine the place of Jesus’ birth, using photos from their recent trip to the Holy Land with Episcopal Relief and Development.
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Sunday Evenings at St. Peter’s. Throughout December we will offer Holy Eucharist at the 5:00 p.m. service. Evensong resumes the second Sunday of January: January 10, 2016.