Monday, November 28, 2011

A Gentle Reminder from Mongolia

This was sent to me by our former director of music who joined the Peace Corps and is spending two years in Mongolia (reprinted by permission).  She was responding to my newsletter article which will appear below the note:

A Personal Note to Pastor Haug:

This is just a quick note to let you know that your newsletter has brought the first tears to my face since I have been in Mongolia. 
I am not sure if it is because this season is always so beautiful in your church or just because I am so far removed from the excitement....and a bit lonely....and saddened that the choirs (yes, even the bell choir!!) aren't a big part of the service. 
I agree wholeheartedly about your perspective on the commercialism of Christmas, but I really want  you to remind the congregation how truly blessed they are to have each other with whom they can worship together and sing the joys of Christ's Birth.
It is easy to be absent from church and the fellowship therein because in America reminders of Christianity are daily around us.
But, this Christmas there will be no reminders for me.  Yes, there is a church here and cell groups, but it is still a quiet religion.
For my whole life I took so much for granted in my Christian walk...the hymns, the Scriptures, the lessons to be learned.

Now I am seeking this on my own which is probably the most soul searching part of this Peace Corps experience to date.
God is here - I just struggle to share it with someone. 

My article:
What is God Calling Us to Do and Be?

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!

We will be singing those lines very soon. The Advent season is upon us in the church as we prepare for the arrival of Jesus at Christmas. But how often is this season joyful for us?

Honestly, in the coming weeks, we will be bombarded by all the advertisements, all the sales pitches, all the holiday commentary to ensure your Christmas is perfect, etc., etc., etc. And most of us will get caught up in the ensuing hustle and bustle until our nerves are frazzled, our wills are stretched, and we are only too happy for Christmas to come only once a year.

How has this holiday turned into such a thing? How has this hectic nature overwhelmed the joy of knowing Jesus came to earth? Is there anything we can do to bring that joy back?

Here’s one thing my wife and I did last year. Instead of asking all of our relatives and friends what they wanted or needed for Christmas (so that we could get them the "perfect" gift), Dawna and I jumped into the car and decided to walk through as many stores as we could. If we saw something that fit one of our loved ones and our pocketbooks, we would buy it.

And you know what, Christmas shopping became a joy! We didn’t feel any pressure to find the right things. Instead we could walk around and gaze at stuff. The right gifts just popped out at the right times. I’m actually looking forward to Christmas shopping again this year–as we should every year as we participate in the joy of the season.

What other creative ways can you see to help you turn this season into a season of joy instead of hecticness? How can your faith help transform the hustle and bustle into a time of peace and joy? Think about it, and then when you come to church on Christmas Eve and sing "Joy to the World!", you will really mean it!


Pastor Haug

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