A Church That Loves Christmas

We attended church this morning and it was a combination of two of my favorite Advent Traditions.

The first being Cookie Sunday, where many of the church members bake cookies for shut-ins and some for all of us after the service.

The second is our annual, what I call our Christmas Cantata, and this year’s was outstanding!

The spellbinding Holiday music was interspersed with the deep and heart felt writings of Lucille Clifton  1936 – 2010.

‘Lucille Clifton was born in Depew, New York, on June 27, 1936.  Her first book of poems, Good Times (Random House, 1969), was rated one of the best books of the year by the New York Times.’

‘Clifton remained employed in state and federal government positions until 1971, when she became a writer in residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she completed two collections: Good News about the Earth (Random House, 1972) and an Ordinary Woman (Random House, 1974).’   First Presbyterian Church Bulletin

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‘blessing the boats’

‘may the tide

that is entering even now

the lip of our understanding

carry you out

beyond the face of fear

may you kiss

the wind then turn from it

certain that it will

love you back   may you

open your eyes to water

water waving forever

and may you in your innocence

sail through this to that’

Lucille Clifton

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The performance included three songs by our University Student Ensemble…and they were heavenly!

The melodious blending of the outstanding voices of theses dedicated young adults…added immeasurably to my Christmas Experience.

I recall, fondly, being asked to read portions of a Christmas Prose rendering, in 2014, as a part of the Christmas Choir Performance.  I have enjoyed few things more than my participation in this wonderful event.

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Our church choir is comprised of people from 18 – to 80…and beyond.

Their beautiful singing and dedication to the worship service in our church in priceless!

Our Pastor, Reverend Janice West, sings in the Choir…as well.  Rev. West has a beautiful voice!

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Once again, I have been moved by my experience in our lovely church…that projects to me the true meaning of Christmas…and I am transported to the time of Dickens and a Christmas Carol, and the majesty and dignity of the wisdom and beauty and compassion and infinite forgiveness and patience of my wonderful African American sisters and brothers…and I listen…silently…for what they can teach me.

As I listened to the words of Lucille Clifton I was reminded of the dignity of Medgar Evers who was, ‘an american civil rights activist in Mississippi and the state’s field secretary of the NAACP.  He worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, to end segregation of public facilities, and to expand opportunities for African Americans, including enforcement of voting rights.  He was assassinated by a white supremacist and Klansman.’    Wikipedia

I reflected on the quiet dignity of Congressman John Lewis who was almost killed on Bloody Sunday in Selma over 50 years ago.  The dignified and unassuming Congressional Leader refused to attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum over the weekend due to President Trump being there.

I thought of my first supervisor, Jim Walls, and his mentoring of me in my early days at Southern Illinois University and his concern and care for me…and that I owe him my success at the School.

‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’

‘So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas

And a happy new year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

For weak and for strong

For rich and the poor ones

The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas

For black and for white

For yellow and red one

Let’s stop all the fight

A very Merry Christmas

And a happy new year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

And what have we done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so happy Christmas

We hope….’

John Lennon, Yoko Ono

 

 

 

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