The weeks before Christmas is a time of preparation. We prepare our homes with trees and garlands. We prepare hospitality with cookies, cakes and dinners. We prepare outfits for parties and gifts for special people. The season is also about preparing to recognize and receive the Christ Child in our lives anew each year.
Our theme for Advent this year is Shaping the Season. We are using the process of throwing pottery as our metaphor bringing intention into the ways we shape our spiritual formation during the season. The birth stories of Jesus from Luke and Matthew’s gospel introduce us to Mary and Joseph and John the Baptizer who each play a roll in shaping the story.
December 3 – Kneading
John calls us to prepare, and so we begin by kneading the clay in readiness. Kneading is an invitation to focus, to be conscious of the present moments. In kneading, the clay is pressed hard and smooth to release any trapped air that would later destroy. In our lives, we release the things that would trap us and hold us back from becoming.
December 10 – Centering
Mary receives an invitation from Angel Gabriel to bring new possibilities into her life. She answers the call to bear a child from a place of centering herself in God’s will. Centering a kneaded lump of clay on the pottery wheel can be the most challenging step of all. Both hands must work together pressing the clay hard against the spinning wheel at its fastest rotation. Centering our lives in Christ during this busy season keeps us from flying off to the many tangents that can divert us. Soul work brings us to the still point at the center grounding us in faith.
December 17 – Shaping
Joseph could easily have changed this story when Mary’s expectancy challenges the cultural norms. Our pottery creation begins to take shape in this stage of the process. Once the potter’s hands sink deep to open the centered lump of clay, the balance of internal and external force pulls the clay to rise and take form. We each face internal and external pressures bringing our own choices that shape our future.
December 24 – Glazing
We hear once more from Mary as she sings the Magnificat and claims the vision of God’s preferred future of lifting up the lowly and filling up the hungry. After the pottery has taken shape, it is placed in a kiln. A crucible of extreme heat bakes it firm, and glaze brings color and life to an earthen form. As we consider the ‘fires’ (transforming experiences) in our own lives, we find our unique beauty as Christ-centered beings.
Join us this Advent season in worship as we explore the Christmas narratives in shaping the season and transforming our lives.
Christmas Eve at Saint Paul
December 24, 5:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.
A worship experience for the whole family includes traditional carols led by our Chancel Choir and guest musicians. Both services conclude with “Silent Night” by candlelight.