Science has proven something that some of you already know. People who decorate early for Christmas are happier. Psychologists confirm that decorating for Christmas makes you happy, and the earlier you do it, the happier you are. There are a couple of theories as to why. One is that people associate Christmas with happy childhood memories and nostalgia about that time. That’s great for people who have happy childhoods but we know that’s not the case for everyone. So if decorating for Christmas and listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween makes you happy, go for it! But I don’t want folks to miss Advent because they’ve been celebrating Christmas for two months by the time Christmas Day arrives.
I didn’t even know that Advent existed until I was in my early 20’s. Growing up, we attended a church in a tradition that didn’t follow the Christian calendar with various seasons. I didn’t even hear the term “Advent” until I started going to a United Methodist Church in college. I know I’m not alone. If you didn’t grow up in a church that followed the Christian calendar or you didn’t grow up in a church at all, this season before Christmas that most of the world equates with the Christmas season can be confusing. So here’s a primer for Advent with the hope that it, along with early decorations, can bring you a sense of hope, love, joy, and peace this year.
So what is Advent? Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas, and it’s a time of preparation for Christmas. Now I know that you all know what it means to prepare for Christmas…shop for gifts, bake cookies, put up the tree, watch “Elf”, wrap presents, make your list and check it twice. But Advent is a different kind of preparation. While the Christmas that those activities prepare us for is great and wonderful, the truth is we as disciples of Jesus celebrate another Christmas. As the website Busted Halo reminds us, Christmas is Christ entering our world, and Advent is preparing for that arrival. It is waiting and hoping and preparing for God to dwell with us and in our hearts. It is preparing for God to come and make all things new. Advent helps us to center ourselves so that we can prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, invite and welcome God into our lives, and to await the second coming of Christ.
It may surprise you to learn that we are not all that different than the people who were awaiting Jesus’ first coming. Our world isn’t all that different either. We are still a people in pain, living in a broken world. There were powers in first century Palestine that sought to crush and exploit the poor and marginalized. There are powers in our world that seek to crush and exploit the marginalized. There were people in that world who loved their power and possessions more than their brothers and sisters. There are people in our world who love their power and possessions more than their brothers and sisters. And there were people in that world who felt broken and wounded. And there are people in our world who feel broken and wounded.
The world then needed the healing, saving power of the Messiah, the son of God, God with us. Our world needs that too. So as we prepare for this monumental moment in history, let us take some time for preparations that will welcome the much-needed savior into the world and our lives. This Advent, while you buy presents, make sure to remember those who have less than you do. This Advent, while you decorate your home, remember to take some time to be in deep prayer. This Advent, while you watch “Elf”, remember to read the bible. This Advent, while you belt out your favorite carol, remember to raise your voice for the voiceless. This Advent, as you wait for family and friends to gather, remember to see your brothers and sisters who may not have anyone with whom to gather.
Advent can be a wonderful joyous season. It can be a time of great rejoicing and soulful reflection. It can be a time of wonder and a time of excitement. But let us not forget that it is also a season when we cry out, “O Come, O Come Emanuel” and know that God will listen. That God has been, is, and always will be with us. Amen.
This past month we had a new member join Trinity. His name is Gavin Claugus and in his own words: "I am an avid reader and chess player. I am always listening to music, especially downtempo music and early 2000s rap. This upcoming spring I will be studying political science or journalism at Georgia State University." We are so happy that you have found a home here at Trinity Gavin -- we are thrilled you are here!
A Note of Thanks to Our Faithful Supporters
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!
I know that many of you will begin receiving Christmas letters in the next couple of weeks. These letters keep us up to date with what’s going on with our friends and family’s lives. Even in an age of social media in which we can get minute-by-minute updates on people lives, the Christmas letter lives on. I think part of its appeal is that it gives the sender a chance to not just document their life events in the moment but it also gives them a chance to reflect on those events as a whole for the past year. And let’s face it: It also gives them a chance to brag on things about which they are really excited.
This letter isn’t exactly a Christmas letter, but I did want to share with you, our faithful extended Trinity family, something about which we are really excited. In September 2018, we received news from the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church that we had been designated as a mission congregation in the conference. Because of our history of ministries with those in need and the potential for new and innovative ministries, we will begin this designation in 2019. We are currently in the process of dreaming about ways in which we can better live into that designation and provide hope and light to those who feel left behind by the rest of society. As you can see, we have very much about which to be excited!
And as excited as we are, we also realize that the ministries of this church would not be possible without the continued support of our friends like you. This is also a chance for us to reflect upon those who have supported this work for years. So while I share our exciting news with you, I also must say thank you for your faithful support through the years. Your support has given hope to the hopeless and light to those wandering in the darkness of life. We couldn’t do it without you!
Thank you again for your commitment to Trinity and its commitment to serving the poor. We are very excited about our next steps in serving God and our neighbors. We hope that it excites you as well and that you will continue to remember Trinity and its work in the New Year.
Peace and blessings to you and yours during this holy season!
Rev. Dana Ezell
On November 25, we had a guest preacher, Chris Rapko, while Pastor Dana was on vacation. Chris graduated Candler with a Master of Divinity in 2011, and currently works for Q100 Atlanta and OG 97.9 as a Mix Show DJ. He is married to Rev. Cassie Rapko, the pastor in charge at St. Paul UMC in Grant Park. His interests include the intersection of popular culture and religion, producing music, and his dog, Soozie.
Rediscover the spirit of the season at Trinity UMC as we focus on believing again (or for the very first time). Our sermon series, “Believe”, will give us a chance to believe in hope, peace, joy, and love in our hurting world. Join us each Sunday beginning on December 2nd and running through December 23rd. There will be special music to kick off the series on December 2nd.
Trinity invites you to experience the Advent season with stories of second chances in our Advent study. We will be studying the book “Home for Christmas: Tales of Hope & Second Chances.” This small group study explores themes of hope, love, joy, and peace through stories of formerly incarcerated or gang affiliated men and women as they find work and opportunities for a new life through Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. We invite you to hear these stories and see how you too can experience hope anew this season. We will meet at the church library on Wednesdays at 10am, beginning on December 5th.
Our annual Service of Lessons and Carols returns on December 16th. Come hear favorite bible verses and special choral music as we recount the story of Christmas in this special service. We’ll also sing some of your favorite Christmas carols. Worship begins at 11:00am in the Trinity UMC sanctuary.
The Christmas season can bring out and amplify feelings of grief, loneliness, or fear of the future. If you’re feeling blue this Christmas, join us on Wednesday, December 19th at 7pm for a Blue Christmas service where we will lament our pain, pray for healing, and look for signs of light in this time of darkness.
December 24, 2018
You are invited to join us for our traditional Christmas Eve service at 5pm. We will hear the Christmas story, sing favorite carols, celebrate communion, and close the service with “Silent Night” by candlelight. All are invited to celebrate the birth of our savior with Trinity.
December 16, 2018
December 19, 2018
Brunch Church - Holiday Edition
The Sunday after Christmas this year just happens to be a fifth Sunday, and fifth Sunday at Trinity UMC means Brunch Church. So join us on Sunday, December at 10am for the Holiday Edition of Brunch Church. We’ll continue to celebrate Christmas with favorite carols (you’ll get to request them!), a short message, and lots of yummy foods. So extend your holiday celebrations at Brunch Church! Bring your appetite, bring a dish to share (if you can), and bring a friend.
Our Trinity Stories
Our story is one of the most important things we can share with each other. For it is through our stories that we can share our joys and our pains, our triumphs, our struggles and our humanity. In this series we wanted to explore the different paths our members took in coming to Trinity, what inspired them to stay, what they love about the church and what frustrates them about the church. We will be sharing our stories in the next few months -- maybe you'll find a bit of your story too.
Click HERE to find the September newsletter from missionaries Ardell and Gordon Graner who are in the Dominican Republic.
Looking for a short daily devotion during Advent? Check out the Trinity Facebook page during Advent for daily devotions to help prepare your hearts for the arrival of Christ and the Christmas season.
If you looking for a place to make a year-end donation, keep Trinity in mind. The link below will take you to our Give page on our website where you can make an easy online payment through Paypal.
265 Washington St. SW
Our Sunday sermon is streamed on Facebook at 11:15am and can also be found as a podcast on Apple podcasts and Google Play.
Trinity United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA 30303