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December 2019 by The Reverend Joel Miller

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The Spirit of the Holidays: The practice of generosity is a great tradition of so many of the holidays celebrated this time of year. There are both joys and stresses as I look for the right holiday gifts for my family. It’s a joy for me to think about them and what they might enjoy receiving. And it’s stressful since I really want to get something they’ll enjoy. I can get overambitious sometimes, scheming to get them something they didn’t know they would enjoy.

Even more stressful than giving a gift is receiving support for something we prefer to provide for ourselves—care, financial support, or even a meal. All can be difficult to receive from others. It is harder to receive than it is to give, in my experience. The best example of this is in church: folks in church are pleased to give to support others (like this congregation’s Good Neighbor Fund). But it’s really hard to ask for help.

I’ve seen times when it was more blessed to receive than it was to give. There are times that receiving care from others requires a profound vulnerability. And in that vulnerability, the recipient is giving something back to the giver: the privilege of practicing generosity and the privilege of being worthy of the vulnerability of others.

Over the years this holiday season has become a time for me to treasure those moments when I am invited into these kinds of privileges.

May your holidays this year be beautiful and loving.

Interim Changes: The church office is undergoing a lot of change at the end of December. It will have new office hours beginning in January, opening at 8am and closing at 2pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 8am-4pm on Fridays. It will be closed every Monday and Thursday of each week. We’ll have a new phone system in place with an up-to-date voicemail system that allows callers to leave a message directly with staff. These changes will allow us to more effectively use Allison’s skills and time. 

And we’re moving offices, too. The Archives are moving to an office space in the RE wing, and the Listening Room is moving out of Rev. Nathan’s office and into the space where Archives were located.

Changes like these have been a common in congregations of all faiths. Technology has given us so many more ways to communicate, and it has become very expensive to tether staff to one office phone. Office hours have become less important as email and voicemail allow us more flexibility to ask questions, schedule meetings, and arrange for building maintenance.