It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year … at least that's what the popular holiday song tells us – and we have the ability to make it so through what we say and do at this special time.
It's true that THIS Christmas may be different from all other ones before it. The pandemic of 2020 has changed everything – EVERYTHING! But, you know what they say about lemons – add a lot of sugar and some water and turn it into lemonade! It's the same with this holiday season. No matter how different this Christmas will be for you in this one-of-a-kind year – don't just take it – MAKE IT a celebration that is special in its own way.
For instance – this Christmas, instead of buying gifts for all my siblings and nieces and nephews, I'm making a donation to charities in their names. This Christmas I'm sending less store bought gifts to my grandchildren – but I'm adding some interactive homemade craft activities that we can do together later online together. This year I'm delivering Christmas dinner to the homes of relatives that can't be out and about this holiday. This year I want a really big Christmas tree that spreads out into the whole living room – just because it will make me happy.
And this Christmas – I'm going to focus on having more quiet time. It is normally a really busy time for me, as it is for most people. Normally, I enjoy all the hustle and bustle - shopping for just the right gift for someone, baking and cooking more than usual, visiting relatives and friends, decorating the house and the church, and those special once-a-year events with my church family. But, since we can't have that this year, I'm planning on spending some of that normally busy time to rest and be still and think about the arrival of Jesus in the Nativity and into my own heart.
I want to remember how God sent Jesus into the world on a starry night in Bethlehem. I want to honor how Jesus chose me to be one of his followers. I want to practice the ways of love and compassion that Jesus demonstrates in every Gospel lesson I read. I want to give glory to God for all that is good and right in my life. And I hope that spending more time with Jesus will make me stronger, wiser, and more willing to serve him. Here we are - it's Christmas once again – and even though it's not like other Christmases - it's up to us to do what we can to make this Christmas season truly the most wonderful time of the year!
May the true gifts of Christmas find your heart anew!
Reverend Susan Hanson has been serving churches since December 19, 1993, when she delivered her first sermon to her first congregation. Since then, Pastor Susan has served in 12 different settings of churches as an interim pastor and to nursing homes as a chaplain, primarily helping to heal hurting congregations and institutions so they could recover and start anew. Reverend Hanson came to St. Vincent UCC in 2013 - her lucky number 13, as she says - and has been with us ever since. How lucky we are because on Sunday, April 8, 2018, Pastor Susan was officially installed by the PA Southeast Conference of the UCC as St. Vincent UCC’s permanent pastor!
Susan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development from Florida State University; a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary; and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling from Moravian Theological Seminary. She was ordained in her home church, St. John’s UCC in Lansdale, PA, on January 9, 1994.
Susan and her husband, the Reverend Doug Hanson, pastor of St. Peter’s Pikeland UCC, live in Chester Springs. They have a daughter and son-in-law who live in Alabama with Pastor Susan’s two grandchildren, a daughter and a son who live locally, and a Golden Doodle. In addition to meeting new people, Pastor Susan enjoys reading a good book, taking walks in nature, and visiting with family and friends.
In her Statement on Ministry, Reverend Hanson says that “a pastor assists the congregation in living out our call to be the heart and hands and voice of God here on earth in our own particular time and place. We can be assured that all of God’s hopes and dreams for us will be realized when we allow God’s Spirit to work within our own lives, and through us, to help others as we seek to do God’s will in the world. Together, we celebrate that when good people seek to make a positive difference in the world, it is there that real ministry happens.”
Feel free to contact Pastor Susan via email at email@example.com or by cell phone at 610.393.6971.