On the First Day of Christmas…

by James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

SPROUSE-JIM-88Christmas, as celebrated by the church, is a season and not limited to just one day. The season includes Christmas Day and the following 11 days. Christmas is technically sandwiched between December 25 and January 6, the date which celebrates the arrival of the magi. So, Christmas season is actually twelve days long.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a popular song we sing this time of the year and most of us have wondered from time to time what the gifts are all about. I don’t know what Molly plans to give me this Christmas, but I hope it is not seven swans swimming or 11 pipers piping, or any of those gifts mentioned in the song. So in doing a little research on the origin of the song and its gifts, I offer the following as a Christmas gift:

From 1558 to1829 Roman Catholics who lived in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. In order to keep faith with many of its important teachings alive, the Twelve Days of Christmas was composed as a kind of catechism. The different gifts were designed to represent 12 important theological teachings the Roman Church required its members to remember.

The following is combined from a variety of sources:

1. Partridge in a pear tree: The partridge is Jesus Christ. A partridge feigns injury to protect its young from predators thus Jesus draws the wrath of Satan upon Himself that we may be spared. The pear tree is one of the many symbols of salvation.

2. Two turtledoves: in Hebrew Bible and New Testaments – doves recall the sacrifice offered at Passover even by the poorest of persons, those who could not afford a lamb.

3. Three French hens: faith, hope and charity. They symbolize also the three gifts of the three magi.

4. Four colly birds: the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

5. Five gold rings: symbolizes the Torah, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. For Romans Catholics it also refers to the five obligatory sacraments: baptism, Eucharist, confession, penance and extreme unction. The other two sacraments of marriage and holy orders are not for everyone.

6. Six geese a-laying: the six days of creation.

7. Seven swans a-swimming: the seven gifts of the Sprit in I Corinthians 12, and the seven works of mercy. It is also the number for perfection.

8 .Eight maids a-milking: the eight beatitudes.

9. Nine ladies dancing: the nine fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5.

10. Ten lords a-leaping: the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments.

11. Eleven pipers piping: the eleven faithful disciples.

12. Twelve drummers drumming: the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed; the twelve tribes of Israel; and the twelve minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible.

The specific origins of this song are not known to us, however, the earliest English language print version appeared first in 1780 in a children’s book titled: Mirth Without Mischief. I just thought you would like to know, if you didn’t already, the teachings behind the lyrics. So, in a way, the beautiful Christmas song of unknown origin has, once again, catechized and blessed us.

May God bless you and yours with all good things this entire Christmas season!

Shalom,

 Jim

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A Time to Give and Receive

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

GILMER-EILEEN-26We’ve all heard it a million times. It’s better to give than receive. We’ve probably all been taught that from a parent, teacher or mentor. The writer of Acts quotes Jesus as saying it. (Acts 20:35) It’s better to be on the giving end than on the receiving end.

It turns out that not only is it better to give, it can actually save your life. A five-year study looked at people who said they regularly offered help to those in need, and compared them to those who said they did not frequently help others. The study found the people who assisted others had lower death rates following their own stressful events such as job loss, financial difficulty or loss of a loved one. Among the ways the study participants helped friends, relatives and neighbors in need: childcare, providing rides, and doing errands or shopping.

There are a lot of different ways you can give this Christmas season. Your donations may be counted in dollars or minutes, time or talents. Here’s hoping the ultimate gift of our loving, compassionate Savior will prove to be the one you both receive and give this season and beyond.

 

The Word Became Flesh

by Amy Crisp, Minister of Education

CRISP-ANDREW-113“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

John 1:1, 14

The Christmas season is one of the two holiest seasons in the Church. It is the time in which we celebrate God becoming one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. This is an awesome, though difficult idea to wrap our minds around.

In the Jewish religion, there existed a distinction between holy and unholy, clean and unclean. Even the Temple structure was designed to keep unholiness and uncleaness from tainting the divine presence in the Holy of Holies (the innermost part of the Temple). Such efforts were taken to place distance between our unholiness and the holiness of God.

Why, then, would God decide to become one of us? This is one of the greatest mysteries of the faith, but an important one with which to wrestle. It is clear in the opening chapters of Genesis that we were created to be in relationship, not only with one another but also with God. In our efforts to be in an ongoing relationship with God, we inadvertantly placed greater and greater distances between us and God. We put up barriers, limits, walls between us and God, believing that our presence would defile God.

In order to break down those walls, God took the first step toward us. God took on human form. Becoming one of us, taking on our humanity, God was ultimately able to destroy any barriers and limits that could ever obstruct our relationship to the Creator. The incarnation was truly miraculous and worth celebrating.

So when you gaze upon the face of the tiny baby in the manger, remember that you are looking at the face of God. The face of your Creator and Redeemer who loves you more than anything. Who was willing to make the first move to be in relationship with you.

What are you doing to maintain your relationship with the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)? We invite you to join us for any of our Christian Education classes, worship services, and ministry opportunities as we work together to be in relationship with God and one another.

 

Youth News

by Chris Abel

ABEL-CHRIS-97       The Christmas story is kind of bizarre. A woman gets miraculously pregnant, angels appear in front of people, God speaks in dreams, children get murdered, foreign wise men flee from an evil king… and yet it’s one of the most family-oriented, happy times of the year. Why? I think it’s because in the face of all that chaos, there’s a beautiful moment. A baby is born.

To teenagers, this may not seem like a big deal. A baby. Woopdi-do. But there’s something powerful about the hope that comes with new life. Every president, world-changer, hero or heroine has to be born. We all start as this little, vulnerable creature. Even Jesus. A baby means hope for change. New ideas and hopes and energies to make a difference in our world. This is why I like teens. They have a way of seeing the world in a new light. They are like big babies. 🙂 Honor that newness in youth and in others!

December Youth Group Schedule

1 Youth Group 5 p.m.

8 Youth Group 5 p.m.

15 Youth Group 5 p.m.

22 Youth Christmas Party

29 No Youth Group

Don’t forget to sign up to help sell Christmas trees (contact me). Tree lot hours here.

 

Music Ministry at Trinity

Lessons and Carols

by Jerry Rich

RICH-JERRY-9Trinity’s service of Lessons and Carols (Sunday, December 15 at 10:30 a.m.) follows the model of the original 1918 Carol Service at King’s College Cambridge (now broadcast every Christmas Eve by BBC Radio to a worldwide audience). Nine readings from the Bible trace the birth of Christ through the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, the angel Gabriel, Joseph and Mary, the shepherds, and the magi. Each reading (proclaimed by a member of the Trinity community) is matched by an illustrative carol, offered by our Chancel Choir, Trinity Ensemble, Memorial Ringers, Trinity Ringers, and you, the congregation. Please join us for this great holiday tradition!

Children’s Choir

by Ellen LaCroix

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All Trinity members are welcome to join us for caroling at various locations in the Trinity community.

Remembering Frances Groover

September 6, 1924 – November 2, 2013

by Doris Page

It seems like I’ve known Fran all of my life – if not all of it, most of it anyway. She was a McLean institution, active in many facets in our community. She was a talented artist, an avid reader (she and my mom exchanged books often) and of course active at Trinity. She sang in our Chancel Choir for over 40 years! That’s a long time. When I joined the choir, she was one of the first people I saw and it gave me great comfort that I already knew her! I will remember her smiling, laughing face, her sense of humor, her great love of music and her kindness. Our choir took on a certain character with her in it. We are the poorer for not having her with us now, as is our church.

When she reached her 40-year mark with the choir, we bought scores of Handel’s Messiah in her honor. They are lovely scores, but what really makes them special is knowing that they were given to honor her long tenure with the choir.

I will always think of her smiling and laughing at something, finding joy wherever she could. Thank you, Fran, for being with us, guiding us and your gift of YOU!

Fran’s memorial service will be held at Trinity January 25, 2014 at 1 p.m.

Be Cool, But Stay Warm

Biscuit staff photoHi, kids of Trinity!

Do you like the cold? I do, but then I have a built-in fur coat. I’m thankful that when it gets really cold outside I can stay inside our nice, warm house. Sometimes we even have the fireplace going.

There’s another way to feel warm; it’s through the warmth of God’s love. The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 29:22 that God has big plans for us – plans for a future and hope. With God’s love and guidance, we can live out those big plans. Prayer is a good way to talk to God about stuff like that. God wants us to share whatever is on our hearts.

Do you have a question about God, the Bible, or church? Send me an email at bit.ly/askbiscuit. Look for my column right here next month. I’ll answer some of your questions.

Remember my motto: Paws for Jesus! paws

Biscuit

 

Church & Society, Crafts for a Cause

A Joyful Thanksgiving Feast

       A joyful celebration was had by all on Sunday, November 24, for our annual church-wide Thanksgiving Feast. It was a great time of delicious food and wonderful fellowship in Langley Hall. Many, many thanks to everyone who helped organize, prepare, serve, clean up and share potluck family recipes for this event.

       Thanks, also, to Trinity families and friends for generously donating non-perishable food items to SHARE for the Thanksgiving Food Drive. SHARE serves as a food pantry to those in need right here on our community.

 DC Scholars at Stanton Elementary School

Many thanks to the Trinity volunteers who mentor Stanton children. Since mentors see the same students weekly, bonds are developing between them. It’s fun to watch the growth and excitement as student skills develop. If you would like to mentor children in the enrichment program, please contact Suzanne Hamilton, 703-759-6264, suzanhamil@aol.com.

SHARE Food Drive

It’s not too late to give! Trinity’s food drive for SHARE will continue through Christmas so please donate non-perishable food items during the Christmas season, as well. Please bring your donations (Safeway/Giant gift cards included) to the Fellowship Building or leave your grocery bags in the Narthex. Specifically, SHARE needs the following items:

♥ tuna fish

♥ rice in 2 lb. bags

♥ cooking oil

♥ canned beans

♥ peanut butter

♥ pasta and sauce

♥ diapers (especially sizes 4-6)

♥ baby wipes

♥ baby shampoo

♥ diaper rash cream

♥ toilet paper

♥ paper towels

♥ laundry and dish soap

Crafts for a Cause

       Thanks to everyone for supporting the Crafts for a Cause Holiday Bazaar, still going on in the Fellowship Building on Sundays after worship. So far, proceeds have exceeded $1,500, which will buy supplies for CFC’s projects in 2014. In addition, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Heart 2 Heart Orphanage in Honduras, and the crafts group plans to support the Moriah House ministry in Ethiopia. It seems our cup runneth over, so we love to share our blessings!

One special joy for the crafts group recently was the production of 30 Christmas stockings for Fair Oaks Hospital. Newborns arriving on or near Christmas will be sent home swaddled in our handmade felt stockings.

There will be two Monday night work sessions this month: December 2 and December 16, both at 7 p.m. in Room 122. Everyone is welcome to come; instructions and materials are provided. We will be working on pillows, dolls, bears, clothing protectors and shelter blankets.

And remember to do your Christmas shopping on Sundays at the Holiday Bazaar, which will continue during as long as we have items to sell.