Dear Members and Friends,
Greetings in the name of the One who is the “reason for the season!”
The season of Advent is nearly upon us! I love everything about Advent. The season encourages us, in the darkest time of the year, to lift up God’s hope, God’s love, God’s joy, and God’s peace. It is, in every way, a forward-looking season. And yet, even as we look forward and outward, there are meant to be quiet moments in which we might reflect inward, to examine how we are making ourselves – our souls, our spirits – ready for the coming of our Lord and Savior, who is the light of the world. I am a visual person, and so I enjoy the sights of the season – the glow of the Advent candlelight, the green of the boughs and trees with which we adorn our church sanctuary and our homes, the rich, royal blue proclaiming the coming royalty of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I enjoy the music – the tunes and the words of those beloved Advent hymns that we sing in anticipation of the Christmas carols that will soon follow.
In this Advent season, we are focusing on the prophetic words found in Isaiah 9:6, with the theme “He Shall Be Called.” We will explore the names Isaiah gives to the Messiah – “Wonderful Counselor,” “Almighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” “Prince of Peace.” What a wonderful time to invite neighbors, friends, family members, and co-workers to join you in our worship experiences.
Our Advent journey will culminate in the celebration of the arrival in our world of the hope, love, joy, and peace that is found in the child born in a manger, as we gather on Christmas Eve, in services of lessons, carols, and candlelight at 5 p.m. (with the Praise Team providing special music) and 7:30 p.m. (with the Vocal Choir and JesuBells providing special music).
And for me this year, the new year holds a unique promise of a life- and faith-changing experience. Early in the month of January, Mark and I will be spending ten days in the Holy Land, in the company of about 100 brothers and sisters in Christ from around our Upper New York Conference, on a trip to be led by our Bishop Mark Webb and his wife Jodi. To say I am “excited” would be understating things!
As together we celebrate another season of thanks-giving and gift-giving, Mark and I feel abundantly blessed to be walking beside you all in ministry here at Bath: Centenary UMC. We are so grateful for your loving care, concern, and support! We wish you a Blessed Advent Season, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
Together in Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Eleanor Collinsworth