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The Gift Received

December 26th, 2014 by Clint Kandle

We all have a set of traditions at Christmas, and changing those traditions is never easy even when it’s for good reason. You see until this year, I have always attended Christmas Eve service; I’ve never attended a Christmas Day service, not as a child, not as a young adult, not even as a chaplain. Rarely had our Christmas morning as a family been interrupted by anything other than family desiring a visit.

When I was a chaplain, we would rotate the holidays so that no one person had to work each and every one. To be honest, I had offered to handle the Christmas Day service as a chance to give Father Carl and Father Christopher time with their families. As I was viewing it, it was an obligation that I could take off of their plate. As usual, they had much to teach me!

The Indescribable Gift

December 19th, 2014 by Carl Buffington

Dear Friends of New Covenant,

Barb and I attended an ornament gift exchange party last week, and I had been thinking a lot about receiving. I thought of Martin Luther suggesting that we dishonor God when we try to earn His free gift of grace. It’s not a gift exchange. It’s a free gift. We are receivers. And here we were at a gift exchange. A fun affair!

I had to be near the last to go and get an ornament. I was number 54. You know how it works; everyone brings an ornament that goes into a pile. Then you can take one from the pile, or go take one from someone who already has one you like, and then they get to go again. Anyway, I went to the pile, now down to two gifts, and opened a lovely clear glass ball with some white design circumventing its middle.

As I walked to my seat, I remembered one of the guests saying she wanted white because her tree was all white lights and white ornaments. So before I sat down, I said, “Here, would you like this?”

The Joy of Fezzywig

December 12th, 2014 by Christopher Caudle

Charles Dickens was paid by the word. This helps explain why his novels are so rich in their detailed description and why the dialogue between characters multiplies from scene to scene. A writer has to pay the bills. Adjectives are cash cows.

It is interesting then that when he describes Ebenezer Scrooge’s joy in Christmas past, he describes Fezziwig’s Christmas Ball with such economy of language. He conjures for us an image of a single evening made joyous by the generous hospitality of a happy couple.

From first impressions, we may think Scrooge has a low capacity for joy. Perhaps because of his life’s early grief, he has numbed himself to these happy moments. Or it may be that the purity of joy in that moment is so tangible, words are not the main things. Scrooge discerns in hindsight that the generous actions of Fezziwig more than surpass the expenditure of wealth or gold.

Invitation: Gift or Burden?

December 5th, 2014 by Carl Buffington

Friday Epistle, 12.5.14

Dear Friends at New Covenant,
There are several things in this week’s letter to you.  One is a wonderful testimony about someone inviting a new friend to church this Sunday.  Then, I have included a summary of your answers to the two questions I asked in my sermon a week ago, and a link to the more complete list.  Finally, at this point I believe I will be sharing on verses 1 and 8 this coming Sunday from the Gospel reading and have shared a couple thoughts.  I hope to see you at Lessons and Carols, Sunday at 7:00. Those who attended last year were deeply touched by the word and worship.

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