My First Ginghamsburg Christmas

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Hello all, Brianna here.

I know we’re already two weeks into 2015, but is it too late (or too early) to talk about Christmas? I’ve always mourned how quickly we wrap up (puns!) the season. So I invite you to turn on your favorite Christmas tune, grab the last of whatever Christmas treats are still hiding in the cupboard, and reminisce with me a bit…

I’m pretty sure that during my first week, I caught wind that the Christmas Eve services at Ginghamsburg were something special. And when I heard that we host seven services, I was convinced it must be true!

Just after Thanksgiving, the prep work swung into motion full force. I sat in on planning meetings that covered everything from parking lots to bathroom decor, helped sort through mountains of Christmas candles, and dreamed with the worship design team about how the night would look and feel.

Like a hushed whisper of something wonderful to come, Christmas Eve was on its way.

Adventus: Make Way for a Miracle 

Meanwhile, we dove into our Advent sermon series, Adventus. For this series, we used dark blue hues and natural materials with some added sparkle. We reused some of the trees from Grateful, and created pallet Christmas trees to place along the back of the stage. Our wonderful pallet guy, Doug Chumney, gave us a generous offer on the wood for the trees. Thanks tremendously, Doug!

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Using a pallet tree picture Kim found online, we recruited our builders create 1o trees ranging from 7-15 feet tall. Leave it the guys to use a pile of 2×4’s, nail guns, and sheer ingenuity to create a Christmas tree.

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We spruced up the tree stumps from Grateful with a little silver and gold paint with glitter mixed in, then stacked them at the front of the stage extension to display the Advent candles.

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Patience and persistence — two characteristics that I’ve learned are required in the world of DIY. But sometimes fate smiles, and a project turns out just perfectly.  Such was the case with these tarnished letters we happened upon in Hobby Lobby. We wanted to use them to display the series title on stage, but were missing a few key letters. With Sunday creeping closer, Kim took the idea home to her husband, Clark, and came back a complete word the next day! We threw on a little gold spray paint, and mounted them on a tree trunk.

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Finally, light it up. This wasn’t the final light design we settled on, but you can see how we used the pallet trees.

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It’s Finally Here!

Before I knew it, Christmas Eve arrived. On the 23rd, the church was abuzz with prepping, fixing, hanging, and lighting for the next night. Over on the decor team, we decided to hang Antropologie-inspired paper leaf mobiles in the lobby to set apart the refreshments tables. Some of our servants from the makeover team took supplies home and cut each leaf out of silver, gold, brown, and cream-colored paper, then glued them onto 10-foot strings. We strung them from tree branches and used shepherd hooks to create a cascading effect.

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I love the garden light look. We wrapped some of ours around large metal stars to make the Common Grounds bookstore “merry and bright” for the holiday season.

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Hope, peace, love, joy are the four words we usually associate with Advent. But this year, Ginghamsburg added a fifth: expectancy. Looking back, my personal experience reflected in a small way the mystery and excitement around that first Christmas night. From the stories the staff shared with me during my first week, to the detailed prep work I witnessed leading up to the event, I knew that something great was on its way.

Was it what I expected? It was even better!

I had an amazing opportunity to serve at all seven Christmas Eve services by sharing an original spoken word piece. What I remember most was how fully the Spirit was felt throughout the entire night. I could see it in the eyes of the people I encountered, hear it in their singing, feel it in their prayerful stillness. By round seven, the energy was still just as new and fresh as the first. Christmas Eve at Ginghamsburg connected me to all the things this season brings: memory, a bit magic, friends old and new, a call to open our hearts to the celebration of Jesus’s birth, and grab onto hopeful expectation of His second coming.

What was the most memorable part of your Advent or Christmas 2014?  Did you do something to [re]design or [re]define Christmas at your church, with your family, or in your life? 

Share your thoughts with us in the comments, we’d love to hear from you! 


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One Response

  1. bob martindale,michaels dad says:

    we enjoy visiting every year. the message is always so good . the atmosphere sets the stage for the music and sermon .

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