Dear Church family,
As 2016 comes to an end and 2017 begins, we remember that our Christmas season is not over. What we know as the “12 Days of Christmas” are the twelve days between Christmas Day and the Day of Epiphany (January 6). Epiphany marks the arrival of the wise men who sought Jesus for two years after a star appeared in the sky at his birth. As the season continues, here is a poem from Ann Weems that describes the entire church year.

THE CHURCH YEAR

The church is Advent.
The unwrapping of God’s greatest gift is near.
Advent—coming.
God will take away the tinsel
and decorate our human hearts in hope
so that Christians can sit laughing in the rain,
knowing that the Lord is going to
shine in upon their being.
For no matter how long the darkness,
God will send the Light.
In spite of cursing and violence and the massacring of human dignity,
we will dance in the streets of Bethlehem,
for He will be born!

The church is Epiphany.
We are the Magi, searching,
resplendent in this world’s accouterments
of knowledge and wealth and achievement.
But we search for something more.
And—of all unlikely places—
in a stable
the Deity appears.
The morning of our Lord
bursts in upon our ordinary lives
like fireworks in the snow.
Only God would send a little baby King,
and we are on our knees,
where we are within reach of our full personhood.

The church is Good Friday.
Darkness burnt into blackness,
abysmal absence of anything good.
We acknowledge that death is real
and we tremble for a world that would kill its God.
Our feet stand in quicksand;
our voices echo sterile silence.
We huddle together to meet the dark and the death,
forgetting what was taught us,
forgetting that somewhere
a seed is sprouting,
somewhere
a child is growing.
All we see is Christ crucified.

The church is Easter.
Out of Death: Life.
Out of darkness:
a lush green world
flowers in the ice
sunrays in the storm
mustard seeds galore.
Our souls enter a spiritual springtime,
our bodies given over to leaping and dancing,
our very beings saturated in hosannas.
Our shouting crashes in upon this world:
the Lord lives!
we live!
Resurrection resounds throughout our community.

The church is Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit is poured out upon us
and sends us out together
aflame with new life,
inheritors of the wealth of God:
life abundant.
We are liberated from the prisons of pettiness,
jealousy, and greed,
liberated to be the church.

We are freed to free others.
We are affirmed to affirm others.
We are loved to love others.
We are family;
we are community.
We are the church triumphant—
you, me, anyone who would come unto the Lord—
renewed, redirected, empowered
to change things and lives
together in love and wholeness.
We are the Lord’s church,
the church of justice and mercy,
the people sent to open prisons,
to heal the sick
to clothe the naked
to feed the hungry
to reconcile
to be alleluias when there is no music.
The mantle is upon our shoulders.
Joy is apparent in our living.
We have been commissioned to be the church of Jesus Christ.

Have a wonderful New Year and may Christ’s peace be with you, Tasha

kneeling in bethleham 1