Pastor's Ponderings

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Pastor's Ponderings, December 27, 2016

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I’m away this week!

If you try to reach me at the church this week, I won’t’ be there. Neither will I be at home. Instead Wanda and I and our daughter Emma are vacationing with our son Nathan in Hawaii this week. Nathan is in the Army, stationed at Ft. Shafter outside of Honolulu. We hope to enjoy some tropical weather and time at the beaches over the holiday break.

It’s been several years since we’ve taken any vacation trip and we’ve never been away from the church at Christmas time before. But this year we are going because we seldom get to see our son or have the whole family together. With Wanda teaching, it is either now at Christmas break or we’d have to wait until summer. The trip has been in the works long before I knew I’d been here at Calvary Church in Frederick. It’s sort of a combination graduation gift for our daughter and a 30th anniversary trip for Wanda and I.  We’ve been scrimping and saving for some time so that we could do this.

I am grateful that Rev. Harry agreed to take on the worship service for Christmas Day and Rev. Ken has not only agreed to cover any emergencies while I’m gone, he also will lead the worship service on New Year’s Day. It is so great to have their help. (I will certainly be missing Rev. Harry!) I will be back on January 4 ready to start the new year with the Calvary family. I know that 2017 will be a great year for us all.

 Blessings,

 Pastor Steve

Do You Hear What I Hear?

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Do you hear what I hear?

One of the most memorable and inspiring parts of the Christmas season is the music we hear. Sure, we have more than enough Christmas background music playing in the stores, elevators and waiting rooms. But the really wonderful music is the kind we get to hear in church, among carolers or in our homes. We hear voices coming together in song, lifting up the songs of Advent waiting (“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”) as well as the joyful proclamation of Christmas (“O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Go, Tell It on the Mountain”, and “Joy to the World”). This is a time when bells remind us to consider the needs of others. And Christmas carols are some of the few songs that nearly everybody knows by heart (at least the first verse).

Music is a language of the spirit and the heart. It can trigger feelings and remembrances from the past, sometimes pleasant and sometimes not, sometimes welcome and sometimes not. The lighting of a candle or the singing of "Silent Night" on Christmas eve can bring on a flood of recollections, images, feelings, emotions, that connect us with other people and other Christmas celebrations. Some of my favorite memories of Christmas music include hearing a solo cello play a haunting version of “What Child is This?” and the singing of “Angels’ Carol” in the dark with a small choir one year hoping for the lights to come back on during a storm on Christmas eve.

I hope you’ll join us this Sunday at Calvary Church as holiday music takes the central part in our worship at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m.

Here are the words of the third stanza of “O Holy Night,” (another of my favorites)
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

See you in church,
Pastor Steve

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