Like so many families that I know, during the 1980s parents were still alive. Regularly, families on both sides were on our list of places to visit during the Christmas press between noon Christmas Eve and the end of Christmas Day.
In the heat of the season, I tried to visit grandparents in addition to my parents and my wife’s parents. It was my responsibility to include my role as minister leading the Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion in the list of commitments in these intense 48 hours.
It was always great to see all of those people, and for the most part, we celebrated Christmas in each of those places and everyone understood who we were as family, parents, children, and grandchildren. Celebrating the birth of Jesus and His role as Prince of Peace called me to look forward to the day when I would be able to know the “Peace of Christ” in all of the events of the Christmas celebration I worked hard knowing how to keep the relationships of family and the activities in that special time. It was years later before I realized how important it was for me to take charge of my relationship with God and live out my responsibility to keep “peace” in my own life.
Time and age and changes in roles and responsibilities have made finding peace at Christmas a little bit easier these days. In the spirit of believing that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” I continue to remember that it’s my responsibility to keep peace in my life, to search for the peace that God brings to earth all the time and especially during the Christmas celebration each year.
It’s still not easy to find peace in the busy time. I still look for the peace that God brings at Christmas in the time of celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, Jesus.
Here’s an invitation for you to seek peace this Christmas season.
Therefore encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 15:2
A friend in one of our congregations said his favorite song was Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Jim was such a positive, loving, caring guy, and I expected his “favorite song” to be a hymn. I listened to Armstrong’s rendition, and I understood why it is so appealing. People greet one another with the words, “How do you do?” What they’re really saying, according to the song, is “I love you.” When we greet one another here at Epworth Villa, we’re not likely to say, “I love you.” It’s just too loaded with romantic and sentimental implications and prone to be misinterpreted. We’d rather use other words. (Choose your own.) I do believe in greeting people and calling them by name when I can remember—or see their name tag. I’m convinced there is no sound more welcome to most folks than the sound of their own name spoken in a loving, caring way.
Soon after we moved to Epworth Villa, over ten years ago, I decided that as much as I loved the facilities, staff, and services provided, what makes Epworth Villa so very special are the people who live here. I still believe that. The people who live here care for each other. It happens every day in so many ways. We can all offer a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and a heartfelt prayer. It makes a difference. Let’s not underestimate the difference we can make in someone else’s life.
The Religious Life of Epworth Villa has been richly endowed recently with three very generous contributions by residents and their families to help to enrich the lives of our residents and bring beauty and joy to our chapel and the activities that occur there. These monetary expressions of love will see further ripples in our community and elsewhere.
With the purchase of 45 new choir robes for our wonderful choir that will be cooler and all have working zippers, we may be able to donate the usable robes we have left to a smaller and more needy choir that has no choir robes. Ripple, ripple. With the purchase of a beautiful new grand piano, the present piano can be moved to the Grand Ballroom where it will enhance the many performances that we enjoy there. The current piano in the Ballroom can be moved to the Redbud Room where there is currently no permanent piano to be used for activities in that room. Ripple, ripple.
The new screens already installed in the Chapel will allow viewers at home to see the words to hymns being sung in Vespers, read the words of the Call to Worship, and for uses we haven’t even thought of yet. Two new hand-held microphones will be used for many things. The choir will have access to many more beautiful anthems to learn and share with the community in Vespers as new music is purchased. The new piano will be well cared for because of another special gift.
The Prayer Garden being constructed outside the Chapel with the peacefully flowing fountain, wonderful new plantings, and soon-to-come benches and chairs for you to utilize while enjoying the quiet, would not be possible if not for the love expressed by these donors. Our seasons of worship will also be enhanced with gorgeous new paraments in five colors and outstanding symbols embroidered on them. Perhaps the current paraments we have been using can also be donated to another smaller church. Ripple, ripple.
As donors of this magnitude are not usually identified, we all will be forever grateful to them for their outstanding love of our community and their generous hearts. As it says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”