Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Churches – Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King

Devotion for December 22, 2021, from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King:

Dear Advent-Saints! 

The past weeks have been quite stressful, I have to admit. It’s been good stress, indeed. Joyful stress. And, our house looks nothing like Christmas, because no one took the time to do anything about it. Not, because we don’t love Christmas. We do. We love it. And I have these great ideas about nightly reading sessions and singing Advent hymns and decorating the house and baking cookies for weeks. 

But then, I never do before Dec 23rd. Instead, we met with friends, we visited friends. We listened to their stories about arriving in new countries and finding a new home among new people. And still feeling like they don’t belong after almost 30 years. Because they speak differently. And that’s often all that people care about. 

We went caroling in four different nursing homes. Singing the old songs, praying, blessing. Watching people cry during “Silent Night”. Getting blessed by the people we meant to bless. Symbolically and literally. When Patrick, a resident at one of the homes, took my hand and prayed over me. When a man who was so reluctant to even sit in that common area during the caroling, sang along by the end.  

I went caroling in San Francisco, transported by a trolley with 2 elves (the real ones, of course!). Singing for small shop owners, for holiday shoppers and people eating out on Polk street. Often the same image: People heard us, stopped for a second, kept on walking, stopped again, listened for a bit. Came closer, hugged their partner, started smiling. And went their ways. With the sound of Christmas in their hearts. 

Members of our congregation opened their garages and back yards to neighbors, friends and church members for the Living Advent Calendar. We shared stories, the happy and the hard ones. We sang. We ate cookies and drank all kinds of hot beverages. And every time, somebody would say: “I didn’t feel like Christmas until just now. Now, I do.” 

I have sat with people over coffee and lunch and more coffee. 

And, I have brought home cookies, made or bought by wonderful members of our church. I tell my kids: “Yes, I don’t have the time to bake with you as much as other moms before Christmas. But, my congregation still makes sure that you have the greatest variety of cookies on the table!” They have come to like that idea 😊 

To me, that is Advent. A time of good stress. Of bringing joy to others. Of getting into the Christmas mood by showing up for others. Of sharing cookies. Of sharing the energy, we get from our faith and hope in Christ, with the world. Because otherwise we are at risk of overcharging our batteries. And that’s no good, as we probably all have learned the hard way with our phones and computers.  

Looking back at the past almost 2 years, I sometimes wonder whether our society hasn’t overcharged our batteries by being home and mostly worrying about our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our loved ones. Don’t get me wrong. There has been a lot to worry about and there continues a lot to worry about. You all know that. And, to live in worry and fear is not the way of Christ.  

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) So, may God charge your batteries in these coming weeks. And may you find ways to spread the energy, love, hope, joy and faith! In Christ, your pastor Tia! 

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