"The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid, the night is still,
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist."
Alfred Lord Tennyson
In pagan times bells and other joyous noisemakers were believed to frighten away evil spirits. As part of the midwinter solstice festivals, bell-ringing activities were rowdy, mixing some fun in with the serious intent. In the years gone by, the peals of the church bells served as unmistakable heralds of the arrival of the Christmas Season, a time to celebrate the birth of the long awaited Messiah.
In the pre-Christian "Holiday Season" shopping has taken the place of bells and noisemakers as the preferred way of keeping evil spirits at bay. Going to the Mall is a very serious activity with some occasional fun mixed in, as the getting and giving of material goods is considered to be a surefire guaranteed cure-all for whatever ails us. Yet when all is said and don, we all know that "the gift" to give this season is soon replaced with something else--remember the Cabbage Patch Doll? Tickle Me Elmo?
This year, let us remember that the greatest gift of all never goes out of style, can never be replaced, and is never forgotten: the gift of love. This is what the Christmas story is all about. God the creator of all things loves us so much that He stepped out of eternity into time and space to dwell amongst us, God with us, Emmanuel. This Christmas Season let our hearts ring with joy as we give our hearts to Him and to those we love in celebration of the Birth of Jesus.
We hope that you will share the joy in your heart by making a contribution to the ministries of Zion Church "for God loves a joyful giver" 2 Corinthians 9:7
Checks may be sent to Zion Episcopal Church, PO Box 717, Manchester Center VT 05255. If you are in Manchester, please join us for Christmas Services: Christmas Eve beginning at 5 pm at Zion for the Family Service at Zion, then at 7 pm at St. John's Chapel, and then back at Zion at 9 pm for the Candlelight Service with choir. On Christmas Day there will be a service at 10:00. All services include Holy Eucharist.
John (The Rev. John S. Mitchell, Rector)