Tag Archives: Marcia McFee

Christmas Eve: Calm and Bright

Merry Christmas! Last night on Christmas Eve, the services were beautiful and touching and helped me to experience “Emmanuel” God-with us in a real way. Our 5:30 p.m. service at First United Methodist Church is a bilingual family service.

Technology can often be glitchy and it certainly was last night. At the last night, we thought we would be going old school, and went to get  hymnals. By the time we returned with the hymnals the problems with the computer program was ironed out.

The service had the usual elements with singing, a children’s time and the reading of the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke. We had two people share what the birth of Christ meant for them. One was a girl, around 8, and she spoke of Jesus’ birthday and being able celebrate such a gift from God. The other was an older man, from Hondurous who speaks little English and his witness was translated to English from the Spanish.

What struck me the most, was when he said, “In my culture, Christmas is the time to reconcile with family and friends. If you have fought and disagreed, then this is the season to make amends.” I ponder how little that is done in the Anglo culture, at least in my experience. Yet the carols certainly speak of the restoration and reconciliation of God and human kind. Very little is spoken about the challenge of reconciling as people, brother to brother, sister to sister, friend to friend.

Our late service continued the use of Marcia McFee and the Worship Design Studios “Calm and Bright” series. Two hundred years ago the carol “Silent Night, Holy Night” debuted. How I and many have been blessed by that lovely song. We sang and broke bread, and lit candles and were once again reminded of the mystery and beauty of Emmanuel, God with us always. You can find the entire service as it was broadcast here. 

Now, on this first day of Christmas I begin to celebrate and truly enjoy the gift of family and friends. Today is quiet, but tomorrow the house will be filled with friends and tomorrow night the first group of family will be here. I am so grateful to have the privilege of preaching the Good News of God with us, now and always. Merry Christmas!

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Advent 2: Joy in the midst of Uncertainty

The dawned filled with sunshine. My week has been filled with wonderful activities at the church, with some deep and meaningful family time and our house filled with laugher and love. Yesterday, December 8, we gathered to celebrate my mother-in-laws unique and unrepeatable life and spirit. She had died in early November, but this weekend allowed more of her grandchildren to make the trek to Wichita for her memorial service.

Traditionally the candle of joy is the third week of Advent. This week, at least personally, it seemed very appropriate. Joy can come sneaking around the corner or burst out in the most amazing times and events. My husband’s family here, created a joy filled space and time as memory board were made and stories shared and laughter and more laughter ringing through the rooms.

In the sermon Calm and Bright, from Marcia McFee’s Worship Design Studio, the 200th anniversary of the debut of Silent Night, Holy Night is celebrated. Verse two of that well known carol goes like this:

Silent Night, Holy Night,  Shepherds quake, at the sight                                                              Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing “Alleluia”                                                 Christ, the Savior is born, Christ, the Savior is born.

When fear moves to awe and wonder, joy becomes part of the experience of the glories streaming and the alleluias being sung. In today’s service we focused on Elizabeth and Mary’s joy at being part of God’s grace being made real in their lives and through their participation in God’s work in the world. You can find today’s worship service in it’s entirety here.   

I am praying for new spaces and places to experience joy in this Advent Season.

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Advent 1: Peace in the Midst of Conflict

Today we celebrated the first Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the Christian New Year. Using Marcia McFee’s “Calm and Bright” we are focusing on the beloved carol “Silent Night” for our Advent and Christmas season. Churches all over the United States is using this material to explore the 200th anniversary of “Silent Night.”

The creative juices flowed and what fun it was to figure out how to fill our vast sanctuary with stars. Our Adult council began cutting and pasting and two women cut over 300 of the stars we used not only in the sanctuary but in the chapel and in a couple of other worship spaces. Hanging stars down from our ceiling required team work with our Director of media, his family, my husband and I.

The choir sang beautifully, and it was a wonderful morning to begin the journey to Christmas. You can find the link to worship here. The video begins with announcements, the worship service itself starts at about 5:23. I am looking forward to exploring what it’s like when “all is calm and bright.”

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