December 4, 2017: All in the Family: Discovering Intergenerational Discipleship

Katrina CulbersonApproaching Thanksgiving and Christmas often draws our attention to our families.

We plan get-togethers, holiday parties, meals and trips to be with our people in celebration of our thankfulness and God’s work in our lives. In those moments that we have infants, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and children all gathered under one roof, it is undeniable how much we learn from one another and cherish that sacred time.

Experiences are enriched by relationships and perspective. People offer insight and support through genuine connection, different experiences and life phases. Our biological or chosen families may not always be close to us, but our church families are also family.

Earlier this month our 6th–12th graders had their annual Fall Retreat down in Glen Rose, and since then I have been reflecting on the beauty of several blessings that occurred during that weekend. These fantastic weekends full of worship, small group study and unique chances to hike and play could absolutely not be possible without the dedicated volunteers that join us. This year’s rock star volunteers were made up of a grandparent and those who don’t even have students in the program. We were all brought together by our love of worship, the outdoors and each other.

In the midst of all our playtime and discovery, and conversation around spiritual gifts, our students took time to pack all the generously donated care package items along with handwritten notes for our 18 college students. Watching three different generations come together to serve our congregation in love, on a weekend that was meant for them, really touched my heart.

We think of traditions and love being “passed down to generations” when, in actuality, love along with respect and reverence are powerful enough to span in all directions. Intergenerational discipleship is not just about taking care of those younger than ourselves, but about laying aside age and any other possibly dividing factor to truly love our neighbors as God loves us.

This Christmas season and following, let’s love everyone as our family. Find a new face to greet at worship. Volunteer for a children or youth activity. Take the time to visit church family you usually don’t see on your way to Sunday School. Time and love can make all the difference.

Psalm 145:4–6 (CEB)

4One generation will praise your works to the next one, proclaiming your mighty acts.

5They will talk all about the glorious splendor of your majesty; I will contemplate your wondrous works.

6They will speak of the power of your awesome deeds; I will declare your great accomplishments.

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December 4, 2017: When Facing the Holidays is Difficult, Someone is Here to Listen

Dear Friends,

Rusty HedgesFor some, the holidays can be especially difficult. There is so much pressure to be “merry and bright” but, for many possible reasons, sometimes we don’t feel merry or joyful at this time of year. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be especially hard because we are reminded of loved ones who are gone and happier times that are past.

With that in mind, I want to share a word about parts of the church’s ministry that you may or may not be aware of. As part of our continuing efforts to serve the needs of our neighbors and our church family, we have a counselor who works out of our church building one day each week.

Her name is Vivian Graham, and she is a certified therapist who is experienced in working with children, youth and adults. Her work at our church is made possible by a partnership between PPUMC and the Pastoral Counseling Center of Dallas.

Ms. Graham meets with her Irving clients on Mondays in what is usually referred to as the “bride’s room” located in the narthex across from the two main back doors to the sanctuary. That room is very private because that area of the church is seldom used during the week and it would be very unlikely that anyone would encounter a member of the staff or a church member. Clients enter and leave through the front doors of the church.

Appointments are made directly with Ms. Graham and do not go through the church office. No one on the staff is ever aware of who meets with Vivian or what they discuss. Any client of Ms. Graham’s can be assured of absolute confidentiality.

It is my personal experience, and the experience of many people I have referred to counselors, that talking with a trained person who has no involvement in a situation can, at times, be extremely helpful. Sometimes in just one or two sessions a counselor can give us a fresh insight or a new perspective that will help us to get past an emotional obstacle.

In addition, I want to add a reminder about the “Service of Hope and Remembrance” that will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, at our church. This is what is sometimes referred to as the “blue Christmas” service, which is a small, intimate worship experience that is open to anyone but intended as a way to help people who struggle emotionally with all the frenzy that has come to be a part of our celebration of Christmas.

There is also a “Faith and Grief” program that meets monthly at Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving. PPUMC had a hand in creating that support group and I recommend it to you if that would be helpful.

Christmas should be a happy time as we celebrate the decisive event in human history when God came to live in human form in the midst of the creation. For many of us it will be a joyous time to be with friends and family. I do hope that it will be a “Merry Christmas” for all. But if it’s hard to find the joy, don’t apologize or feel guilty about your feelings. Let somebody help.

I’ll look for you on Sunday as we begin a new Advent season.

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