Weekly Chimes, Advent II

Christ Church

Swansea, MA

This is from the minister in Hingham, the Rev. Tim Schenk.  He has several books published.  I have always found him funny and insightful.
Unexpected Endings
“Whoah! I did not see that ending coming.” This is a reaction that no one has ever had while watching a Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel. The endless loop of these seasonal movies is nothing if not formulaic. 
If you’re not familiar with the genre, every movie has several common elements. They all

star a vaguely familiar-looking actress who used to star in Full House or the Wonder Years convinced that she will, once again, be spending Christmas alone. They take place in cleverly named fictional midwestern towns like Evergreen, North Dakota or Holly, Iowa. The male love interest is a chiseled, young widower with a perky elementary school-aged daughter. There’s a kindly white-bearded grandfatherly type named Nick who works at the small town hardware store and dispenses timely life advice. The budding romance has a seemingly insurmountable obstacle – a failing family business or a job opportunity in the big city. In the end, the obstacles are overcome, the couple falls hopelessly, if unexpectedly, in love just as it begins to snow, the Christmas soundtrack crescendoes, and the credits roll. 

Hallmark Christmas movies are cheesy, predictable, and incredibly popular. Millions tune in during the weeks leading up to Christmas and for many, these movies have become an integral part of the season – at least as important as hearing an endless stream of carols in the mall or picking up a peppermint latte at Starbucks.
How do I have any clue about the plot structure of these movies, you ask? Hallmark Christmas movies are one of my wife’s seasonal guilty pleasures. She’s not addicted or anything but after a full day of work, she’ll sometimes relax by making a big bowl of popcorn and clicking over to the Hallmark Channel. I end up catching enough to predict the ending after watching for two minutes. They are that predictable.
But I think that’s the whole point. In a world full of uncertainty, people are drawn to the familiar and formulaic. There’s something comforting about knowing precisely how things will end up. Since we don’t have that luxury in our daily lives, we crave such control in other areas. Enter Hallmark who understands this at a deep and highly lucrative level. As one Hallmark executive recently put it, “We own Christmas.”
But this is where the Christmas of Hallmark and the Christmas of faith differ. People of faith are not seeking to “own” Christmas but to live Christmas. And when living Christmas, there are no formulaic endings. The Christmas of faith is about wonder and surprise and transformation. It doesn’t always go according to plan because that’s not how life works. There is pain and grief and anxiety and unmet expectations. Jesus enters the world to offer hope and light amid the dark places of our lives, not to tie everything up with a beautiful bow. 
I don’t begrudge anyone watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. Go ahead, pour some hot chocolate, put on your most comfortable PJs, and enjoy this seasonal cotton candy. But I encourage you to also embrace the comfort of the Christmas story this year. Christians draw comfort in the familiarity of Mary and Joseph and the manger and we know how the story turns out. We revel in the liturgy of Christmas, in singing the traditional hymns, in celebrating with one another. 
Yet we also know that many in our midst stand outside the warm glow of the idealized Christmas, and that God entered the world in human form to bring comfort to the lost, the lonely, and the least. This may not make for the picture-perfect, expected ending but it does add hope and meaning to the reality of the human condition.
I hope you enjoyed Father Tim’s article.  May you find inspiration this Advent season.
Yours in Christ,
Father Al
Faith Exploration/Adult Confirmation:
It’s not too late! Please join us for an adult opportunity to understand more about the Episcopal Church, your own faith journey and a sustaining love of God.  This is open to any adult wanting a refresher, a new learner or someone who simply likes to gather and learn with fellow Christians.  Faith Exploration /Adult Confirmation is a chance for already-baptized adults to make a public profession of faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
We meet in the Mary Case Parlor of the Parish House from 11:15-12:30. Our meeting dates: December 17; January 7, 21; February 18, 25; March 4, 18; and April 15, 29.
You are also welcomed and encouraged to participate in the Palm Sunday service (3/25).Maundy Thursday service 3/29, and the Easter Vigil 3/31.
Confirmation Class: Confirmation classes have begun.  Open to all youth 7th grade to 12th grade.  Classes rotate between Christ Church, Church of Our Savior (Somerset), and Holy Spirit Church (Fall River).  Contact Fr. Al for more information.
In our Prayers
Let us pray for those who are ill, troubled, or in any need or adversity: Brian Boutin, Tom King, Heather Oliver, Janice & Bill Turner, Lawrence Aubin Jr., Lourdes Melo, Charles Otley, Edith Miranowicz, Olive Ormerod, Susan Pritchard, Michael Fino, Joyce Sokolski,  Richard Perkins, Kristin Frazier, Maureen W., Deborah Hooker, Missie Sokolski, Mark & Vicki Walmsley, Dale Davol, Brian Vieira, Simone Baugh, Joyce Sunderland, Nancy Hall, Bobby Colantonio, Sue Pavao, Anthony Waring, Beverly Silva, Theresa Scott, Mark A., Rosalie George, Dylan Bednarik, Jenny, Ali, Judith Fardig, Donna Triggs, Bob Brown, Richard Soughers, Dorothy P., Claudine Stanton, John Cormier, Kathleen Lomen, Arnold, Mary Lou, Joan, Sharon Johnson, Larry Rancourt, Barbara Pacheco, and Jo-ann McDermott.
In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer: Parishes of the Alewife Deanery : St. Paul’s Church, Bedford; All Saints’ Church, Belmont; St. Mark’s Church, Burlington; and The Officers of the Diocese.
In the Swansea Cycle of Prayer: We pray for our sisters and brothers at New England Bible Church.
Let us pray for those that have died: Edmond Moniz, Herman Howarth and Ellen Mockas.
Let us give thanks for birthdays: Bruce Antone, David McCarthy, and Drew Mason.
Flowers have been given to the Glory of God to enhance the beauty of our worship. We remember especially, Henry Dugdale Yates, in whose memory the altar flowers are given by The Yates’Family. The pulpit flowers have been given by Cindy Brown, in memory of William H. & Mary Ellen Brown.
Serving On Sunday: Minister of Music: Al Deston, Lay Eucharistic Minister: Nancy Teasdale  (8:00), Sue Carvalho (10:00), Lector: Jacki Laxon (8:00), Pam Kirkpatrick (10:00), Greeters: Joan Padrenoss (8:00), Nan Silvia (10:00), Altar Guild: Peggy Deston & Carole Aubin, Counter: Peggy Deston.
Worship Services
Advent III  December 17
8 and 10am
Advent IV  December 24  8 and 10am
Christmas Eve ~ December 24 5pm
Christmas Day ~
December 25 10am
Christ Church
57 Main Street
Swansea, MA  02777
(508) 678-0923
Christmas Memorials and Thanksgivings
GIVEN BY : _______________________________________
In Thanksgiving for: _________________________________________________________
In Memory of: _________________________________________________________
Please complete and kindly return this form with your check to the Parish Office or place in the alms basin on Sunday.
Memorial forms will be accepted until Wednesday, December 13, 2017.

Christ Church

57 Main Street
Swansea, MA 02777

508-678-0923 | Rector: Fralan@verizon.net, cell 508-505-5668
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