Advent 2: God is permanently for his people.
The wise men fell down and worshiped the child (Matthew 2:11).
Christmas can be the best of times. There are so many things about it I love: the focus on Christ’s incarnation, the humbling effect of remembering God’s entrance into our history and our flesh, the time with friends and family, the beautiful music, the giving of simple gifts as ways to say, “I love you.”
But Christmas can also be the worst of times. Too often there are too many demands and expectations, whether self-imposed or from others. For some there is the craziness of buying gifts and wrapping them; for others, there is the reality that it is another year in which loved ones won’t be getting any gifts because there simply isn’t enough money. Christmas can mean so many things to so many people.
For all these reasons, I find myself every year returning to this simple poem, written by friend and former member of Stone Hill, Jenn Hunt:
Christmas, I hate you:
the stress of you, the mess of you,
the fit in small black dress of you.
The fake of you, the ache of you,
the up ’til midnight bake of you.
The glitz of you, the blitz of you,
the party can’t be missed of you.
The bait of you, the weight of you,
the dread of late mail fate of you.
The rush of you, the slush of you,
the crumpled wrapping mush of you.
The whet of you, the get of you,
the deeper into debt of you.
Jesus, I love you:
the fuss of you, the muss of you,
the come and walk our dust of you.
The why of you, the lye of you,
the love I could not buy of you.
The serve of you, the nerve of you,
the not what I deserve of you.
The calm of you, the balm of you,
the feel here in my palm of you.
The catch of you, the patch of you,
the death has met its match of you.
The near of you, the far of you,
the take me where you are of you.
Update on Giving: Michael Sentance describes the impact of your giving in support of our youth ministry this year. "In February of 2019, the youth group held our two annual retreats, the first for a group of 20 middle school students and their leaders and the second for a group of 20 high school students and their leaders. These retreats are a time when students’ relationships with God, with each other and with their leaders go to the next level. We climbed high ropes courses, played glow in the dark dodgeball, ate more food than we should have, learned what it means to be made in God’s image with the middle school group and how to practice the Spiritual Disciplines with the high school group. Friendships were forged and faith was built. As a result of generous giving to the church, we were able to offer several scholarships this year to students who otherwise would not have been able to come. Their lives were impacted and their hearts were reached at a deeper level, because people gave and made it possible."
At this time of year, we again ask for your prayerful and generous consideration as we seek to meet our budget. So far this month we’ve received $26,000 of the $460,000 we need to meet budget.
Christmas Choir Concert: Come and hear the Stone Hill Choir as they present the Christmas portion of Handel’s masterpiece, MESSIAH, on Sunday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m. The choir will be accompanied by The Stone Hill Chamber Orchestra, with soprano, Rebecca Gater, mezzo-soprano Amy Wells, tenor Arthur Harris, and baritone Steven Condy, all under the direction of Bob Doll. Admission is free. Join us after the concert for a free holiday reception.
Family Christmas Celebration: Today, from 4-7 p.m. Come enjoy the musical "Jesus Light of the World", presented by the Children's Choir, gather for a simple dinner in Harris Hall, and top the night off with amazing Gingerbread-House making in the Atrium. Kids will have a great time with their families and friends, a time of fun, and really sweet fellowship! Invite your friends!
Celebrate Christmas with Extended Family: Wednesday, December 11 at 11:30 a.m. in the Library, we will have a special guest speaker: our very own Christie Chisholm, the sister in law of the late French Singer Edith Piaf. Christie is in the process of writing her second book which focuses on her Christian walk and God's faithfulness. Please join us for lunch and do bring a friend.
The Abide (Young Adults) Christmas Party: Join us on December 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Library. We will have Christmas cookie decorating, snacks, hot chocolate, games, and a white elephant gift exchange. In case of any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth Christmas Party: Sunday December 13 at 6:30 p.m., Stone Hill Youth will be hosting it’s annual Youth Group Christmas Party! Whether you are a youth group regular or have never been before, it is a great night to come, bring friends and get involved in the Christmas-themed chaos. There will be a photo booth, karaoke, a human gift wrapping contest, an ugly sweater contest, a white elephant gift exchange and more, as well as pizza, cookies, brownies, hot chocolate and apple cider. Come out and join in the fun, December 13, and bring friends. We hope to see you there!
Stone Hill Learning Center: Please join us on Thursday, December 12 at 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. for our annual Christmas program. Students will perform skits, songs, and recitations; student projects and art work will be on display. Price of admission is an appetizer or dessert to share with 10 people.
Christmas Eve Services at Stone Hill: We will have our family friendly Sing and Tell of the Christmas story at 5 p.m. There will also be a service at 11 p.m., with communion, ushering in Christmas day, the celebration of our Savior’s birth.
New Year’s Eve Potluck at Stone Hill Church: Join us for a New Year’s Eve Potluck at 5:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, December 31. Please bring a dish that represents food from your family’s heritage. We will enjoy a time of fellowship and food on New Year’s Eve. This event is open to the entire church and is being sponsored by the Koinonia Team at Stone Hill. The Koinonia Team is a multi-ethnic team at Stone Hill that is attempting to provide events that help our diverse church connect with one another in a deeper way. We believe that spending time together over a meal is a great way for us to build community at Stone Hill Church.