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by Dan Peeler
Minister for Children and Families

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2.19

A Word of Hope
In the Season of Christmastide, it is very helpful to remember that all the preparation and buildup we have shared for the last several weeks were not just for a single day of celebration that ends at midnight, December 25th. Our ancestors who originally came up with the idea of the twelve-day Christmastide season must have realized that all the words we hear every year about God manifesting Incarnate in the world should take the average person a little longer than a single day to grasp. And likewise, that the Christmas withdrawal so many of us feel is lessened if we savor the season gradually rather than devouring it in one sitting like a plump slice of pumpkin pie.

Christmastide is a good time to contemplate the symbols that still surround us; to ponder their origins. Did you know that mistletoe was thought to have eternal life since it remains green after its host tree has dropped all its leaves, and that kissing your partner under a bundle of the plants will assure that your love will last forever? - Or that holly is symbolic of Jesus' Crown of Thorns, with the red berries being the drops of blood? Each year in the Children's Ministry, we roll out a large multi-compartment cabinet version of an Advent Calendar on which we play our Symbols of the Season game, counting down the days until Christmas while learning a little more about the origins of these traditions.

Another constant in the Children's Ministry, and the most appropriate symbol of this season, graces our church year-round; the new-borns and infants who remind us we have the opportunity that Mary herself had; to be a part of nurturing, guiding and supporting a new life, believing always in the hope these tiny members of the Body of Christ have brought into our world. Being part of their lives through actions or prayer can make the joys of Christmastide last considerably longer than twelve days.

God of Wisdom, help us to recognize your face in the shining faces of the youngest among us.

But if you remain silent, who can condemn you? If you hide your face, who can see you? Job 34.29

A Word of Hope
Have you finished your costume yet? Halloween is just two days away and the parties have already begun. Do you ever wonder why so many of us go to extremes every year to dress ourselves or our children as super heroes, grotesque movie monsters or even scarier politicians? The “Hallow” in “Halloween” means “holy”, so how does all this fuss relate to a Holy Evening? The first Hallow-e’en costume parties originated in the Middle Ages, but they were far from parties as we know the term.

European villagers were obsessed with possession in those dismal times of plagues and poverty. Since demonic influence and possession seemed to them to be the most logical and probable cause for all their woes, the idea came about that dressing up in frightening-looking outfits and making lots of noise was the best course to frighten the demons away. The practice was encouraged by the church leaders who also told them that All Hallow’s Eve, the evening before the venerated Feast of All Saints, was the night the spirits of evil were at their most active level, doing whatever was necessary to snatch people’s very souls and thoroughly defile the upcoming worship events. So, everyone put on their masks and rattled their chains to literally scare the devil out of each other and send the demons back to the pits where they belonged.

This is not likely the reason you or some of your friends might be wearing a costume today, but it is not surprising that at this time of year much of the LGBTQ community eagerly embraces the opportunity to play dress up on the streets. Few believe in possession, but most have been touched by oppression. Many are still forced to wear a mask in their work or worship places year round. On this night, wearing a mask is their own choice, not somebody else’s. They are freed from playground mentality rules such as “don’t ask, don’t tell” to noisily proclaim their real identities and maybe drive out a few of their own demons of guilt and shame. And if that is the case, maybe it’s a holy evening after all.

Help us to know that we are all hallow in your sight.

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Childcare is provided at all Sunday and Wednesday services.

9 & 11 a.m. – Sunday Worship
9 & 11 a.m. – Children’s Church
11 a.m. – Youth Groups
1 p.m. – Sunday Worship in Spanish

7:15 p.m. – PULSE Service

5910 Cedar Springs Road | Dallas, TX  75235 (map)
Local: 214-351-1901 | Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)

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