Hello, Bailey-

Icebreakers help us get to know each other. Simple questions provide a vehicle for introductions and connection. Some of my favorite icebreaker questions are:


  • What’s your favorite ice cream?
  • What’s your favorite sports team, if any?
  • What’s your dream vacation?


One icebreaker I haven’t yet used is “Tell us about your worst Christmas.”


Obviously, that’s not a fun topic, but it opens the door to recognizing that the holiday season isn’t always full of joy and good cheer.

My worst Christmas would be 1995, the year my father unexpectedly died at age 72 on December 10.


When we gathered together for Christmas two weeks later, there was an empty chair and a deep sadness in our family.


The photo is me with my parents in 1991, when I graduated from seminary. I always liked that hat.

Most of us know the experience of pain and hurt in this holiday season. And yet it still seems hard to acknowledge our brokenness amid the perky optimism around us.


If you are hurting this month, even if this is your worst Christmas ever, please know you’re not alone.


On Sunday at 2pm, we have our annual Blue Christmas Service, a time for people to gather together before God, acknowledge our hurt, hear the good news, and share fellowship together. Everyone is welcome. See info below.

We also have wonderful music this time of year to acknowledge our sadness and give us comfort. Sometimes we sing for others; sometimes we can't sing and we're grateful for those who do.


A favorite song of mine is “Messiah” which we sang at 9:00 the past two Sundays, with the New Day Ensemble (photo above). The song reminds us that Jesus has come to be with us in our sadness and suffering, to be our King. (“Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”) The words of “Messiah” remind us that sometimes we’re all lonely, or cold, or broken. Click on the photo above to listen at the 53:00 mark. 

Someone's shouting from the city:

I am young, I am cold.

Someone's shouting from the country:

I am lonely, I am old.

Someone's shouting I am broken.

Someone's shouting make me whole.

Someone's shouting come and change me.

Someone's shouting save my soul.

Messiah, Come and be our King.

Messiah, Come and be our King.

-from “Messiah” by Larry Olson

This time of year we also sing songs like the simple and poignant “O Little Town of Bethlehem” which reminds us of the reality of our darkness and fears.


“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light;

the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”


When we are in the sad places of life, there is no magic pill or perfect Bible verse or ideal song to pull us out and make the pain go away.


There is the good news that we are never alone: God is with us in Jesus Christ and we have fellow pilgrims all around. Thanks be to God for the light that shines in the darkness. We speak it, we sing it, and we grow into it.


Advent and Christmas blessings to you,

Charlie


PS--Looking ahead, we have worship on Christmas Eve at 4:00, 6:00, and 8:00, with soup and finger food in between services. And on Sunday, December 25 and Sunday, January 1, we have ONE SERVICE at 10:00am. Please mark your calendars.

  • In-Person and Livestream worship: 9:00am & 11:00am
  • Jo Wiersema preaching on Matthew 11:2-11
  • Lighting of Advent Candles: Kennedy family (9:00) and Martha & LeRoy Stoner (11:00)
  • Baptism of Mekhi and Chloe Bauer (9:00)
  • Music from Beth Wilson, Martha Stoner, and Doug McNeel
  • Children's Time with Cindy Lovell
  • Kaleidoscope Kids worship education (9:00am only)
  • Nursery Care (8:45am-12:15pm)
  • Visit our Worship HQ for everything you need to worship with us online!
  • Sunday School (Christmas Pageant rehearsal) from 10:00-10:50am

If you missed a service or would like to watch a service again, all livestreamed services are saved to our YouTube channel. Or you can give the sermons another listen on our sermon podcast!

Join us Sunday at 10:00am for our Adult Ed class about Guatemalan Christmas traditions, led by Rev. Betsy Moe and Esvin Sirin. They will join us via Zoom from Guatemala. Come join us for this fun and festive class, as we continue this enrichening mission partnership! Note: this will be the last Adult Ed class of the year. 

This Sunday at a Glance!

  • Sunday Worship - 9:00am & 11:00am (above)
  • Adult Education - 10:00am (above)
  • Guatemala Auction Item Pick-Up - 8:45am-12:15pm (below)
  • Parents' Afternoon Out! - 1:30-3:30pm (below)
  • Blue Christmas Prayer & Fellowship - 2:00pm (below)
  • Soul Sisters Small Group - 7:00pm (click for more info)

If, for whatever reason, the holidays are difficult for you this year, you are encouraged to come to a special worship service, when we acknowledge the pain in our lives and give thanks for the support we have from each other and in Jesus Christ. Pastors Charlie and Clara lead the service. Light refreshments will follow. All are welcome!

Want to join us for Blue Christmas but don’t know what to do with your kiddos? Need to get some Christmas shopping done? Drop them off at Marcus Point Cinema at 1:15pm for Polar Express and some popcorn, while you have a few hours alone. Children will need a medical release form, which Jo will have with her on Sunday. Register HERE! Free will donations will be gratefully accepted.

Thank you for making the Guatemala Auction a success! Winning bidders – you can pick up your items this Sunday (12/11) from 8:45am-12:15pm. Pay for the items via check, on the Guatemala Page, or with a credit card upon pick-up. There will also be a few items to look at in the gathering space. Thank you donors, bidders, and auction committee for making this auction a success!

Die Hard and the Council of Nicea


"There is a lot of stress and anxiety involved with the holidays when extended families get together. And not everyone can slip into the Christmas Spirit as easily as others."


It's that time of year. We're putting up the decorations, having holiday parties, and of course - debating whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Settle in for this week's Midweek Musings and please comment on the blog! Click on the image above to read.

You can still fill out a commitment card if you haven’t had a chance. They are available in the office. You can also fill out your commitment card/form as well as serving survey on our Generosity Page. Here is a snapshot of where we currently stand financially:

Week of

Total pledged

Number pledges

12/6/2022

$925,419

189

12/8/2021

$896,850

199

2021 Totals:

$981,552

226

W encourage you to fill out a serving survey (click). The serving survey indicates your gifts/talents which helps us know how you want to get involved at Covenant.

Join us for our Children’s Christmas Pageant at both services! Including children ages 3 years old through 8th grade, the children will take you all around the world in this exciting Christmas play. Children participating should arrive at 8:15pm on the 18th. Contact Jo Wiersema if you have any questions. There will also be special music presented by all music group of Covenant.

Join us in gratitude and celebration as Chelsea Cornelius is ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The ordination service will take place in the sanctuary here at Covenant, with reception to follow. All are welcome! RSVP HERE.

For a full scope of what is going on this December, Advent, and Christmas, read our monthly newsletter, The Caravan. Click HERE or on the image above.

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