Spiritual Care & Development

First Monday Dec. 4, 11:00am-1:00pm:
Get in the Christmas spirit with a Christmas carol sing-a-long and some Christmas-themed trivia for our First Monday gathering on December 4th!

First Monday is a gathering of folks aged 50+ who meet for fellowship and fun on the first Monday of each month. We meet in the Great Room at PUMC for a potluck lunch followed by the program. Bring a friend and a dish to pass. If you have questions about First Monday, please contact Pastor Kate, ksweet@peoplesumc.org.

December Reflection: Blue Christmas:
It’s December, and time to be bombarded with Christmas cheer. “Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la!!” Just about everywhere you turn, we’re reminded of this command, with tinsel, lights, and festive beverages. Often Christmastime is filled with cheer, warm memories, and generous hearts. But these glad tidings are also what make this time of year very difficult when your life doesn’t match up with what everyone else seems to be experiencing.

If you’re dealing with unexpected or chronic illness, job loss, relationship strain, the loss of a loved one, or any other experience of loss, Christmas can be especially difficult. Memories of what used to be, or how you hoped things would be, rise to the surface. Your holiday traditions may be disrupted or out of your reach.

While our culture tends to focus on the bright and shiny aspects of Christmas, I don’t think that it is a coincidence that we celebrate Christmas during the darkest, coldest season of the year. God came to be with us not just in the warmest, happiest, brightest times of life, but rather when we needed the Divine Spark the most. No wonder for centuries Christians have reflected on this scripture in the days leading up to Christmas:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

We all end up in the “land of deep darkness” one time or another. If you’re feeling sad, angry, lonely, or in need of healing this Christmas, please remember that you are not alone, nor are you doing something “wrong.” Please allow yourself to really feel all that you are experiencing, and to share what you are feeling with a safe person or people in your life. The hope and the mystery of the Christmas faith is that God continues to meet us in the dark places of our life. Christ is Emmanuel, “God-with-us.” And, I believe that often it is through the presence and love of other people that Christ continues to meet us today.

Many communities of faith will celebrate a “Blue Christmas,” or “Longest Night” service on the winter solstice. These services are a time to recognize the presence of pain, illness, and loss in our lives and in the world, and to seek the everlasting flame of Christ’s love that continues to burn for us in the darkness. At PUMC, we will be having a similar service on Sunday morning, December 31 at both 9:00 am and 10:30am. We are calling this a “Service of Hope and Healing,” a time to recognize that we all need healing and grace in our lives, and seek God’s healing presence together. We hope that it will be a special way to usher in the new year with a reminder of God’s presence in your life.

The Care Team Needs You!
On November 26, we had a special time of blessing for our Care Team during the 9:00am worship service. The Care Team is an inter-generational group that serves elders who live alone or receive help from caregivers, individuals who are dealing with sudden or chronic illness, and families that are experiencing some unexpected adversity. Care Team members provide companionship, caregiver relief, and non-medical support. Examples of this kind of support include:

· In-home visits
· Playing games
· Going out for coffee, lunch, or a movie
· Giving rides to appointments or to church functions
· Encouraging phone calls, notes, or cards

We would like to expand our Care Team as the number of individuals needing support continues to grow. If you have felt the nudge from God to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others, this is a fantastic and meaningful opportunity to do so. If you are interested in learning more about how you or your family could be involved with the Care Team, please talk with Pastor Kate, ksweet@peoplesumc.org.

Service of Hope and Healing:
On December 31, at 9:00am and 10:30am we will have a Service of Hope and Healing as we reflect on the year past and ready ourselves for the new year ahead. This is a special time to offer our whole selves to God, and to look for the healing presence of Christ in our midst. In 2018, we hope to offer moments of Hope and Healing after regular Sunday worship services on every fifth Sunday. If you are curious about what this might look like, or feel you are in need of God’s healing presence, please feel a warm welcome on December 31.

Practice@People’s blog post:
Did you know People’s church has a blog? You can find the blog at https://peoplesumc.org/ and clicking on the “News” tab. Each month the Discipleship team has been highlighting a different spiritual practice through its Practice@People’s article. In August we explored journaling, in September we looked at using prayer beads, and in October we considered “holy listening.”

So how do you grow in your faith? Because each one of us is unique, there are many different unique ways to grow deeper in faith. We want to feature many different faith practices, so if you have a spiritual practice you’d like to share, please talk with Pastor Kate or email her at ksweet@peoplesumc.org.

Sue Koch