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A Christmas of Comfort & Joy
Welcome to all things Advent at St. Paul's!

LOVE
  • Message from Pastor Lora
  • Worship
  • Luminary Night
  • Advent in a Bag
  • Hanging of the Greens
  • Interactive Prayer Station
  • Note from Staff Parish Relations

SEEK
  • Advent Studies
  • Advent Devotionals
  • Advent Calendar

SERVE
  • Ten Thousand Villages Holiday Event
  • Silent Night Video featuring YOU!
  • Christmas Offering
  • Star Words Day


Message from Pastor Lora


Happy New Year! Yes, Advent begins a new year in the church. If you need a fresh start, let this season be a good start for you. We invite you to join into a season of hope, peace, joy, and love as we celebrate Emmanuel, God With Us.

We put up our tree a couple weeks ago now, because we wanted that ritual and those family traditions to bring some comfort in this time when so much of what we are used to is being asked (again) to be adapted. There is something really settling about knowing where the tree goes, how to wrap the lights, and to know what this ornament means. There was SO much joy at my house when the lights on our first home were turned on for the first time!

Comfort & Joy. That is the message we are bringing this Advent, for it is a message that is gifted to us in Christ. Centered on the traditional Advent candle themes, each week we will use familiar carol lyrics and the scriptures of the season to guide our hearts toward Christ the Comforter—toward the Spirit of Joy among us.

Read through this special newsletter. It’s long—because we are THRILLED to find the gift of Jesus among us this year—let yourself be comforted by the joy of Christmas.

Peace,

Pastor Lora
 


Comfort & Joy Sundays - and beyond!


Participate in the livestream on Facebook, Sundays at 10am (except Christmas Eve services, which will be on Christmas Eve :) at 5 & 7pm). If you miss out you can always watch later on Facebook or YouTube!
  • November 29
    Allison Marcus will bring a message of HOPE – “the hopes and fears of all our years are met in thee tonight.” We will name the grief, the need we have for comfort, and give it to God. Luminary Night will follow that evening.
  • December 6
    Mary’s song will remind us that PEACE always comes with justice. “Peace on earth and mercy mild” might not be the best way to describe it, but we will have a chance for interactive prayer station that week outside.
  • December 13
    Put on your coziest Christmas sweater and get ready for some FUN! “Repeat the sounding joy” with your church that morning!
  • December 20
    The LOVE of Christ comes down at Christmas and always—we will “let loving hearts enthrone him” and explore how our love can spread Comfort & Joy to the world.
  • December 24
    You’ll have TWO different options to worship this night—traditional at 7pm and contemporary at 5pm. That’s right, for the first time in almost nine months we will pull the blended service apart for two different worship styles and experiences and sounds.
  • December 27
    Christmas might be over but we will keep praying “be near me Lord Jesus, we ask thee to stay.” How will God’s Comfort & Joy stay with us?
  • January 3
    STAR WORDS DAY comes to us with the familiar story of the wise men.
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Online Worship Guide & Bulletin


Sunday, November 29, 5-9pm, St. Paul’s parking lot


You're invited to a drive-thru time of prayer and remembering as we honor those in the United States who have died from COVID-19. There will be one luminary in our parking lot for every 1,000 COVID-19 deaths and you will receive a prayer guide to use as you drive through with stops along the way to pray. You will also have a chance to receive an Advent Bag that includes candles to make your own wreath and some prayers to help guide the season. This will be a poignant and meaningful beginning to our 2020 Advent season, being true to the reality we are living and believing that “our hopes and fears of all the years” are met in God’s love for us this season.

This year we are offering Advent in a Bag for everyone! In the bag are 5 votive candles so you can make your own Advent Wreath on a plate or a tray and add greenery or other decorations. There is a guide that will explain each candle and a prayer to guide you through it each week.

You’ll also find cards in the bag that include the devotions from “Hanging of the Greens: Home Edition.” And a card with a QR code that leads you to the website with all our Christmas events detailed. You can keep it for yourself, or share it with a friend!

Advent in a Bag will be available at the church when you come for Luminary Night, 11/29, 5-9pm. 
 

“Hanging of the Greens” is a customary way to begin the Advent season. It is a service of worship where various Christmas symbols and decorations are presented, sharing some of their origin and meaning, with scripture readings to set each element in the context of the story of Christ’s coming. This year we aren’t able to gather in the sanctuary to do that and our homes have become the focus for our Christmas worship and celebration. So our church staff has recorded a video that we are calling “Hanging of the Greens: Home Edition.” You will see some members of our staff putting up their Christmas tree, setting out their Advent candles, hanging lights on their house and a wreath on their door, and setting out their Nativity scene. Each time they’ll share with you a little background on the origin and meaning of that specific tradition, read a scripture that sets it in the context of the birth of Christ, and share a prayer that offers a blessing on the message of that tradition and asks for a rededication of our own lives to proclaiming that God is with us.

The video will be available Friday, 11/27, on Facebook and YouTube. We invite you to watch the video as you decorate your own home and prepare yourselves for Christmas this year. The prayers and scripture readings in the video will also be available in the Advent Bag distributed on Luminary Night. We pray this video is a way you can dedicate both your home and your life to see the coming of Christ all around you.
Interactive prayer


December 6 - 12 @ St. Paul's


Come join us at St. Paul's to decorate our Prayer station! Through the whole week of Dec. 6-12 (weather permitting!) there will be a table with prayer strips to adorn our outdoor trees. We will have a printed prayer available for you and your family to take home, and we encourage you to write a word that speaks out to you during this Advent season in your own prayer life, and tie it to our trees as a communal prayer during the Advent season. Join us as we pray together!

Supplies for sanitizing will be set out for the markers and station, and we ask that you sanitize the surfaces and markers for the next visitor.

St. Paul's is very fortunate to have such dedicated and talented people on staff, especially this year! As 2020 comes to an end, the Staff Parish Relations Committee wants to recognize that even during a global pandemic, the staff at St. Paul’s has enabled our community to continue to Love, Seek, and Serve in safe and meaningful ways. Pastor Lora’s recent email asking for estimates of giving for 2021 reminds us of some of the things St. Paul’s has accomplished this year, and it is truly breathtaking! 

Thanks to the staff’s innovative and bold leadership, we’ve had opportunities to turn a year of pain, loss, and anger, into growth, action, and hope. As the saying goes, St. Paul’s continues to be St. Paul’s, even in 2020, and this is largely due to the staff’s tireless efforts in re-envisioning how we worship, study, and serve. Things certainly look and feel different this year, but the one constant is that the St. Paul’s community continues to love others unconditionally, educate ourselves and challenge injustices, serve those hurting physically and emotionally, and seek God’s love and call.

With all of this in mind, we wanted to give you the opportunity to show your appreciation to the staff for their love and care this year.

First, we invite you to contribute monetary gifts to a love offering that will be distributed to the staff in January 2021. You may make your contribution online by selecting “Staff Gift,” or designating a payment by text or check to the "Staff Gift."

Second, as you are addressing your Christmas and New Year’s cards, we invite you to send a card or note to the church so that the staff can read your greetings and updates. Pictures are particularly appreciated, especially by the newer members of St. Paul’s staff.

On behalf of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, I wish you all a peaceful and blessed Advent season.

~ Kimberly Goff
 
Advent studies

We're excited to offer four Advent studies this year to help you prepare your heart and your life for the coming of Christ into the world. Each of the studies will meet via Zoom; contact the host to join.

We encourage you to make time in your Christmas preparations to pause and reflect and connect with others doing the same. We believe it will lead you to a more meaningful celebration of the season.

Find more info here and choose a study to become part of your tradition this year.

We invite you this Advent to make space in every day to read and reflect on what it means for God to be with us in real and living ways. The good news of Christmas is that Christ comes to bring us hope. Christ comes to bring us joy. How will you hear that message this year, in all that has happened in 2020? How will you believe in the nearness of Christ and feel his peace and his love?

Advent devotionals are a good resource for daily reading and reflection. We've compiled a list of materials that we find especially meaningful and helpful. The title of each devotional is a link that you can use to order a copy. The description highlights what you will find within its pages.

Take time to look through this list and select one that you find most appropriate for you. Share that time with your family and grow together in the hope of God-with-us.

Advent Calendar

 

November 27 - December 25


Each day you will find a different way to Love, Seek, or Serve to lead you in a meaningful Advent. Be sure to check Facebook or St. Paul's website each day to follow along with your church family.
 

It's time for our annual Holiday Event to support the fair-trade artisans of Ten Thousand Villages Overland Park and St. Paul’s Peace and Justice causes! There won’t be a holiday party this year, but you will be able to shop through Saturday, December 5, either in person at the Overland Park store (7947 Santa Fe Dr.) or online. When you check out, use the code SPUMC20 and St. Paul’s Peace and Justice causes will receive 15% of the sale price.
  
Silent Night

Even if you've never participated in choral music before at St. Paul's, we're excited to involve you (and as many people as possible) in our video of “Silent Night!” Jackson Thomas, St. Paul's Director of Choral Music, will provide specific instructions, practice tracks, and a support system at every turn. Find out how it works and get ready to submit your video by December 14. Jackson will compile everyone’s videos together to create something really special for our Christmas Eve service. Read all about Jackson's plans and how you can be part of this very special Silent Night.
    
Find out more here and email Jackson with any questions or hesitations - he will put your mind at rest! We hope you'll join us!
 

Our Christmas offering this year will be split between two local organizations: MORE2 and Shawnee Community Services.

MORE2 (Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity) is made up of people of faith in Kansas City who are called to break down barriers that divide us by race and class. Rather than providing services or programs, More2 works to change policies through grassroots movements, in ways that promote racial and economic equity in Kansas and Missouri. We hope to join More2 as a partner congregation in 2021.

Shawnee Community Services is a long time partner in mission. They exist to offer a hand up to those in need throughout the Greater Kansas City and serve their customers with integrity and respect, giving them a hand up and the tools they need to be self-reliant and give back to our communities. This hand up includes:
  • Food, clothing, emergency financial assistance for shelter, utilities and health care; and, advocacy.
  • Empowering our clients through education and development of life skills and resource management.
  • Promoting practices that respect all people of the Earth and the Environment with special emphasis on all types of recycling.
  • Actively recognizing the central role that charity plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally & internationally.
  • Wisely utilizing the energy and generosity of volunteers, churches, businesses and other organizations in these efforts.
Star Words

This tradition is back for its second year! The wise men followed the star that pointed them to Christ. You will receive a star with a word on it and that word will point you toward Christ in the year to come! After online worship on January 3 you will be invited to come pick up your star word and also invited to bring food for The Hub Argentine food pantry. Check back later in Advent for our assigned food items this month.
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