On a cold December Thursday, after Morning Prayer at Coventry Cross, The Rev. Elizabeth Tattersall showed me a felt banner called Our Advent Journey made by Deb Rogers-McCabe, one of her parishioners. The flames detach and can be added each week. I immediately ordered one and will use it next year in Sunday School. So clever! Then I realized the words are not the same as what we share each Sunday in Advent at the 10:00 service.
So, I started thinking about melding the words with the Godly Play story. The process helped me to describe what happened this Advent at St. Peter’s. As many of you know, the children (with Fr. Jeff’s encouragement) decided to raise money for Episcopal Relief and Development. We chose an ambitious goal of $930 for the Children’s Care Package.
The first Sunday, we shared our HOPE with you that the PROPHETS would remind us to care about those in our world who need help and hope to live. Prophets never know where their words will land and neither did we. We just hoped we could get some donations and send them to those who could be helped.
The second Sunday, we learn about the MOTHER, FATHER, and DONKEY, who are on their way to Bethlehem, a far-off town, from their home. The banner’s word is PEACE. The traveling trio had to have made peace with the fact that Mary is about to have a baby and they are not near a suitable place to stay. They just keep walking, most likely without knowing what is to come and yet with some sense of peace that it will work out. We, too, saw our goal of $930 as a far-off amount, but we continued to work towards reaching it by selling cookies we had made and collecting donations from parishioners, family members, and even neighbors.
The Godly Play story for the third Sunday of Advent is always my favorite, and it totally lines up with the word on the banner, JOY! We light the rose-colored candle for the shepherds, who are told of the joy of the birth that has happened in Bethlehem AND for Mary, because without the mother there would be no baby. These lines, along with candy canes – a nod to both the shepherds and the delicious joy of this Sunday – bring smiles to the faces of those sitting in the pews. We also announced that we had surpassed our goal by raising $996. Yay, what joy! By the end of the coffee hour, that amount was raised to $1001. Someone donated a five dollar bill to get us to the $1000 mark!
The word for the fourth Sunday is LOVE, and in the Godly Play story we tell of the WISE PEOPLE making their way to Bethlehem. It certainly takes a lot of love in action to travel that far and to bring gifts, starting our tradition of sharing gifts of love with friends and family. As the family of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, we’re thrilled to be able to share love in action of a gift of $1017 ($16 was donated on December 29th) through ERD to empower communities to help children up to age six thrive and achieve their full potential by specifically caring for five moms and their newborns, providing nourishment for twelve children and clean water for a family, as well as mosquito nets and training for ten families. Additionally, four savings and loan group memberships would be started.
The exciting thing that happened during Christmas, after lighting the white candle for JESUS, is that Karen Kish, the chair of the finance committee, discovered that our gift of $1017 would be doubled if it arrived before the end of the year! SO, loaves and fishes, people! You and the children did it! We gave the gift of life to children who live so far away and need so much, in the name of JESUS, twice over! Thank you! — Miss Pam Ertel