So….it’s made of plastic. Coming from a household with five other siblings, the night the Christmas tree went up was a family affair. Beyond the full table and chaotic conversations was the smell of fresh pine, as Dad would have already set the tree in the stand in front of the front room window. When given the green light, there would be a mad rush to the boxes of lights and ornaments dragged from a back closet — a treasure trove of bright color, sparkle, and remnants of last year’s silver tinsel. As the lights found their way around the tree the next task was always my favorite – hanging the ornaments. Like many larger families, our ornaments were a hodge-podge collection of simple, school-made ornaments, inherited ornaments from grandparents, and a few added here and there. After years of this cherished exercise, I began to know the ornaments well. I would look for them and remember them from previous years. There were the very fragile, paper-thin glass ones…..the rugged, popsickle stick stars from a classroom project….there were old ones that Mom would “behold” a while in her hand, clearly with stories to them only she could remember….and then there were ones that seemingly had no story, as nobody could remember from where or when they came.
That’s “the story” of what became my favorite ornament. I would search it out every year to look at it afresh. I was mesmerized by its colors and shape. It was somewhat diamond shaped with little windows on one side….and inside was a tiny Christmas tree held in a bit of red and gold stocking. I loved putting it on the tree close to a Christmas light so that the tiny little tree inside the ornament would stand out to be enjoyed. Yet, it was only made of plastic. I would ask if anyone knew where it came from, but none could recall. “Probably a dime store,” I remember hearing once. However, plastic or not, it was my favorite – the little ornament with a tiny Christmas tree inside. It was there the year I got my first bicycle. It was there the year Dad got the flu and was stranded in bed all day. It was there the year my sister brought her new husband for the first time. It was there the year Dad gave Mom a really special ring and she smiled with a big tear in her eye. It was there the first year grandma was not there. It was there each year we celebrated the joy and hope of Christmas as a family. Every year, it was this small voice proclaiming, “Emmanuel! God is with us!”….no matter what the circumstances.
As our family grew beyond itself and my older siblings established their own homes, of course those family affairs became fewer. Somewhere along the way, as we all began to establish our own homes, Mom and Dad began to invite us all to take one of the family ornaments with us….a bit of home….from “Home.” I remember when my time came one Christmas, as I looked over all of the beautiful and quite old ornaments on the tree, I was tempted to go with the most beautiful…..or even the most fragile….or the most colorful. However, when I laid eyes upon that plastic ornament with a tiny Christmas tree inside…..as I reflected on the years I had stared at that particular ornament with wonder as a small boy….it’s the ornament I chose – even though it’s only made of plastic.
For some reason, this year, whether it is because I realize I will not be with my family in the midst of a global pandemic or because this year I need just a little extra connection with earlier, more simple times, this silly, plastic ornament has felt sacred to me. It’s not as much nostalgic, as the fact that it has connected me with something deep in my heart and faith…..something that could so easily be tempered or smothered by the challenges of these complicated days. It is a familiar voice speaking to me again this year. “Emmanuel! God is with us!” That doesn’t change regardless of the circumstances…..and is most especially so because of the circumstances. That’s a sacred message I need to hear right now and I wish to share it with all of you. I would invite you, in these difficult times, to be mindful of such tiny voices in your own midst…..even if they are only made of plastic.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
2020 has been a time for change, a time for reflection, a time for growth, a time for something completely unexpected. For many, it has been a year of adjustment, and for some, it has been a year of loss. For the Board of World Mission, it has been a year of planning, a year of organizing, and a year of evaluating. While we know what this year has been, we ponder what the new year will bring. Will it be a season of working from home? Will it be a season of hugging your loved ones? Will it be a season of hope?
Even as the pandemic continues and our hurricane relief in Central America begins, we choose to believe that 2021 is a year of hope and we are ready to spread that hope all around the world, even if it means doing so from our own living rooms. Help us reach our last 2020 goal of gaining 20 new monthly donors who give at least $20 a month. To be a part of our mission visit moravianmission.org and click “Give.”
Mondays, 6-9 pm
January 4 – February 22 (reserve snow date, March 1)
Instructor: Rev. Maggie Wellert
Real-time Distance Learning via Zoom
MAPPING THE ROUTE (THEOLOGY)
Thursdays, 6-9 pm
January 7 – February 25 (reserve snow date, March 4)
Instructor: Rev. Dr. Bill Falla
Real-time Distance Learning via Zoom
A Journey Through Advent: Moravian Online Reading Services
Moravian Church Without Walls, the Southern Province Board of Cooperative Ministries and the Interprovincial Board of Communication (along with members of the Interprovincial Moravian Christmas Task Force) have partnered to host a series of virtual Advent Reading Services beginning on Monday, November 30. We will be reading through exciting new materials curated from our Advent/Christmas/Epiphany lectionary and combined to be very similar to Readings for Holy Week. We will once again feature an interprovincial group of voices who will read this transformational story, combined with new recordings of Moravian hymns.
The services will be live via Zoom at 7:00 p.m. each Monday evening throughout Advent: Nov. 30, Dec. 7, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21. In addition, several additional prerecorded readings services will be available for Christmas, Dec. 28 (first Sunday after Christmas) and New Years Day. A final live service will be held Jan. 4 for Epiphany.
To participate via Zoom on Monday evenings, click this link. Note you will need Zoom installed on your computer. Services can also be viewed on Moravian Church Without Walls Facebook page and recordings will be archived on MoravianChristmas.org.
Be sure to visit:
MoravianChristmas.org. throughout the Advent and Christmas season as we reimagine our traditional worship and programming! We continue to update the site with resources, information and more for use by both our congregations and individuals.
In addition to liturgies and hymns for Advent 1, 2 and Christmas and our library of seasonal images, recent additions include:
- Texts and audio recordings of Moravian Book of Worship Advent and Christmas Hymns (public domain)
- Backgrounds for online worship presentations
- Ideas and crafts for Advent Wreaths and weekly celebrations
- Outdoor activity ideas
- Family Activities for each day of Advent
Soon to come are additional music selections, videos from around the U.S. and Canada (and the world, too!), expanded image options and information on events.
Visit MoravianChristmas.org today! Check back often as new resources will be added as soon as they are available! If you have any questions, contact Mike Riess at [email protected].
Thinking of sharing gifts from the Moravian Church for Christmas this year? Shop early at:
to make sure your order is delivered on time. Give the gift of music, t-shirts, mugs, face masks, stained-glass Moravian Stars, Holy Week CD sets and so much more.