Thanksgiving will soon be here and Christmas will follow. We are all aware of the crucial role the holidays play in our economy. Retailers can expect up to 30% of their sales to occur in November and December. Because of this economic fact, at Christmastime consumers are gradually becoming more numerous then believers. Snowmen are replacing saints, and the greeting “Happy Holidays” is becoming more frequent than “Merry Christmas.”
How should we as believers view this growing commercialism and secularism that surrounds the day on which we remember Christ’s birth. It depends on your theology. There are two quite distinct theologies in our tradition which describe the relationship between faith and culture.
The first is a theology of opposition which views Christ in conflict with society. Jesus is the light and the world is darkness. Jesus is the truth – all else is deception. Christians who follow this theology become crusaders during the holidays to undo the secularism of Christmas. Their motto is “Jesus is the reason for the season.” They respond to the clerks at Macy’s with “Merry Christmas” even if the workers might be Jewish or Muslim. They see their mission to witness to Christ in the midst of a non-believing society.
The second theology is one of immanence. This view believes that Christ is present in the deepest part of the human heart. It sees Jesus as active in all places of honesty and in people of good will – even those who do not know his name. Christians who follow this theology are not crusaders at Christmas, but searchers. They are always on the look out to catch a glimpse of their Lord at Macy’s, in their non-believing neighbor, or in the Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer card they receive from Uncle Joe. Rather than putting Christ back into Christmas they believe he is already there, and they try to be his presence. They are confident that whenever they serve the weak, the lonely, or the difficult, they are honoring the Prince of Peace.
There is truth to both of these theologies. Each captures a part of the mystery of God and us. But each also offers a focus that will control what we see as most important. So this holiday season, you may choose the theology of opposition or that of immanence. But choose carefully. It will determine the kind of Christmas that will be yours.
BULLETIN ARTICLES – Due to the holiday printing schedule, all articles for the November 29th-30th bulletin and monthly calendar events must be in the office by Tuesday, November 18th.
CONFIRMATION – We are updating our Confirmation list. If you are going into 10th grade or older and have not received the sacrament of Confirmation and wish to do so in the upcoming year, please contact Erica Zalar in the parish office.
CHRISTMAS PROJECT – Representatives will be in the narthex to distribute empty baskets as well as accept monetary donations towards the Christmas Project. Sign up for cookie baking, basket wrapping and basket delivery on the kiosk in the narthex.
CAREGIVER SUPPORT GROUP – Serving as a caregiver is a tremendous joy and commitment. The next gathering of the Caregiver’s Support Group is scheduled for Tuesday, November 18th at 1:00 p.m. in the Resurrection Room. The December meeting is scheduled for the 16th. If you are a caregiver and looking to find support from people who understand all that comes with your commitment, please consider joining us on November 18th.
NICARAGUA PARTNERSHIP – our evening with the women from Nicaragua was a wonderful success. The women of CEPROSI, our partner organization, offered beautiful hand-made note cards for purchase. The money raised supports various projects in their rural community including efforts to enhance the quality of indoor, wood-burning stoves to improve air quality and increase efficiency as well as a program designed to lead women and their families to self-sufficiency by obtaining and raising chickens. These cards will be available for parishioners after Mass this weekend. Cards are $3 each. More information is available on our website – www.stnoel.org. Stop by the table in the narthex after Mass.
RED CROSS BLOOD DRIVE – Our next blood drive is scheduled for Sunday, December 21, from 9-1pm. You can register online at: www.redcrossblood.org or use the sign up on the kiosk. Thanks to Janice Cackowski for coordinating this drive! If you would like to help on the day, please call Anthony at the parish (946-1128 x22).
MUSIC MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH – YOUNG VOICES – is a singing group for children in grades 3-8 that meets every Tuesday from 5:45-6:30 p.m. in the church. YOUTH BELL CHOIR meets every Wednesday from 4:45-5:45 p.m. in the Lower Level. HIGH SCHOOL ENSEMBLE is a new group for students in grades 9-12. Rehearsals will be at the church on selected Sundays at 5:45-6:45 p.m. All these groups are accepting new members. Please join us. For more information, contact Agnieszka Bieniek at [email protected] or 440-946-0887.
JANUARY 2015 HOSPITALITY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! – The Hospitality Committee needs more volunteers to serve coffee, hot chocolate and doughnuts at the 11:00 Mass. The commitment is for once every four or five weeks beginning in January 2015. Please call Betty Louis at 440-942-4009 or the parish office at 440-946-0887 if you are interested in serving.
ADVENT TEA – Mark your calendars now for the Women’s Advent Tea which is scheduled for Sunday, December 7th at 1 p.m. The tea provides a respite from the chaotic activity which often attends the holidays and offers an afternoon of encouragement and support for women. This year’s theme is about Mary. It is called Mary, Undoer of Knots. The cost of the tea is $18.00 per person, proceeds go to the Social Services Ministry. Everyone attending is asked to also bring a food item for the food pantry. Please call Karen Spehar (216-481-6579) or Annie Zahradnik (440-724-2532) for more information.
NOEL FELLOWSHIP – Meetings are held on Thursdays at 12:00 Noon in the St. Noel Banquet Center Small Hall. Activities are: November 20th will be a socializing meeting followed by a luncheon. Menu: Turkey and swiss sandwich, macaroni salad, pumpkin pie w/whipped cream. For tickets, call Theresa Durik at 440-585-9088, cost is $6.00. Deadline for tickets and payment is, November 17th. Also is Birthdays and Anniversaries. Bring something for the Food Pantry and get a free 50/50 ticket. No meeting on November 27th (Thanksgiving).
ATTENTION RETIRED MEN AND WOMEN – Would you like to be of service to your parish? Are you available mornings to be an usher-server for funerals at St. Noel? You would be called on a rotating basis and need serve only at your convenience, approximately once a month. For more information call Ray Kiraly at 440-942-3553.
DIVORCED OR SEPARATED? STRUGGLING WITH THE HOLIDAYS? – Join us for a special 4-week mini support group for those having difficulty facing the holidays as a result of separation and divorce. Attend one session or all four. We will meet Thursdays from 7:00-9:00 p.m., on December 4th, 11th 18th and January 8th, at St. John Vianney Church. To register or for more info: call Karen at 440-352-8282 or email [email protected].
BREAKFAST WITH SANTA – Come join Santa for breakfast on Saturday, December 13th from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at Willoughby Hills Community Hills Center. Please make reservations before December 8th to enjoy pancakes, sausage and juice with Santa and receive a free commemorative photo. Cost for children ages 12 and under is $1 (includes photo and breakfast) and adult is $5 (includes breakfast). Extra photos are $2 each and can be purchased at the event. Plan to shop at the Secret Santa Shop, where all items are $2 each. Call to reserve your time and pay by phone at 440-975-3540 or get forms online at www.willoughbyhills-oh-gov or at the Community Center.
DINNER AND CONVERSATION ON LEADERSHIP – A Book Discussion: Pope Francis-Why He Leads the Way He Leads by Chris Lowney. For more information or to register contact the Jesuit Retreat House at 440-884-9300 or visit www.jrh-cleveland.org.
WALKING THE PILGRIM WAY WITH IGNATIUS LOYOLA: Yes, Really! God Loves You! – Join us for a day of discovering and rediscovering God’s boundless love for you. Time is 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., cost is $30. To register contact the Jesuit Retreat House at 440-884-9300 or visit www.jrh-cleveland.org.
WOMEN’S FELLOWSHIP GROUP PRESENTS: “The Names of God,” a morning of reflection for women from all churches. Join us on Saturday, December 13th in the Parish Center at St. Mary Magdalene Church, 32114 Vine St., Willowick. A donation of $5.00 is requested to cover breakfast and materials. For more information and to register, please call Cathy at 440-463-4147.
ST PASCHAL BAYLON HOLIDAY CRAFT SHOW – will be on Saturday, November 22nd from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., 5384 Wilson Mills Rd., Highland Hts.
MONICA CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR – Join us on November 29th from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the St. Monica Christmas Craft Fair. For further information call Regina at 216-661-6616.