No, we don’t mean getting the most presents or bonuses, but we do mean that what we receive during Christmas is more important even than what we give.
That isn’t what most people expect to hear from a church. Christmas is supposed to be about giving, and generosity, more than what we receive. That is true–when it comes to wrapped presents and cards and parties.
But that is where the stress comes into Christmas, right? Young kids might be into a competition for who will “get” the most and best games and toys and gadgets. But for adults it is turned around. We begin to feel stress over what we feel is expected of us to give: A present for the boss AND the boss’s assistant AND your child’s teacher AND the list grows… Not to mention the “card list,” and the invitations you feel obliged to accept and the invitations you feel obliged to make.
“Giving” has made Christmas a stressful season for adults. No wonder some people, even religious Christians, choose to opt out of the “commercialism” and stress.
Christmas is first of all a celebration of the greatest gift God made to the world, the gift of himself wrapped in flesh and tied, not with a bow of ribbons, but with swaddling cloths. This is the true gift of Christmas, this is the Christ in Christmas, who invites us each to receive him. When we forget the “receiving” part of Christmas, we really have missed out on the season, even if our lists of presents we gave, parties we attended and cards we mailed were longer than everyone else’s.
Our goal at Elgin Covenant is to help everyone who comes to find that space in the stress. All of us are invited to be like the shepherds and the magi leaving their stress behind to worship Christ. The shepherds are working class, on-call during the night-shift. The magi are wealthy professionals caught up in the politics of their day. These are responsible, stressed people, and God brought them to the manger. In the gospel of Luke chapter two the Christmas stories include two retired people: Simeon, and also a very elderly widow, Anna. These two devout worshipers were committed to the House of God, and to both of them God brought the peace and love of Christ all bundled up and cooing in a baby.
You are invited. All generations and stages of life are invited to shed the stress and worship Christ, the newborn King. Come to the party at Elgin Covenant Church. Every week there will be special events to guide the focus of your heart, through Christmas Day. Details below, under each bold heading.
November 27th, Covenant World Relief
Giving during the holidays includes giving to those who cannot give in return. 90 cents of every dollar given to the Covenant World Relief offering goes to direct assistance to impoverished and disaster-struck communities around the world. Designated offerings for Covenant World Relief will be received during this first Advent Service. For more information on Covenant World Relief, go to covchurch.org. Our sermon theme: “Finding Peace at a Stressful Time: Learning What’s Valuable.”
Wednesday, November 30th, Potluck 6 PM
The first of three Wednesday holiday meals will be a pot-luck. Bring a dish to share and enjoy the fellowship of the season.
Saturday, December 2nd, 9 AM, Santa Lucia Coffee
One of our most celebrated Christmas events, our Covenant Women provide continental and traditional Scandinavian breakfast sweets at this open house which features appearances by Santa Lucia, and music.
Sunday, December 4, Advent Communion Service
This is our church’s only communion celebration during the Christmas Season until New Year’s Day, January 1. Our sermon theme: “Finding Peace at a Stressful Time: Commit to What’s Valuable.”
December 7th, Wednesday Pizza Dinner
For this fun fellowship event pizza will be provided. Participants may bring sides.
Sunday, December 11th, Choir Program
On this Sunday morning, 10:30, our choir will be the main feature. There will be a brief meditation, “Finding Peace at a Stressful Time: Share What’s Valuable.”
Wednesday, December 14th, Soup Fellowship
Do you have a favorite recipe for soup? Share it on this third and final holiday Wednesday dinner. Then stay-tuned in the New Year, when the prepared Wednesday dinners pick up again for $2/plate.
Sunday, December 18th, Night of Music and Carols
Sunday morning at 10:30 our theme will be “Finding Peace at a Stressful Time: Celebrate What’s Valuable.” Then at 7 PM we will gather for a night of Christmas music and carol singing. A special offering will be taken for local community ministries that help the poor in Elgin.
Saturday, December 24th, 7 PM
Join us for our traditional Christmas Eve Candlight Service. A special offering will be taken for local community ministries that help the poor in Elgin. Our theme: “Reflect On What’s Valuable.”
Sunday, December 25th, 10:30 AM
Join us on Christmas Day. Theme: “Receive What’s Valuable.”
Sunday, January 1st, New Year’s Day, 10:30 AM.
2012 is an important year. There will be federal elections in America. It is a year for Olympics. And there is hype in certain New Age quarters about the end of the world. What better way to begin the year than with a communion service that reassures us that God holds all of time and space, and has put the future in the hands of Christ? Indeed nothing above or below can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!