The Messenger: December

Advent 2017: Letter From The Editor

Advent is an interesting time for me because we did not celebrate Advent in my home as a young Kat. Christmas was definitely on my radar but only for presents and food. One thing that I noticed growing up is that my family kept everything reasonably simple. My guess, finances were not abundant; therefore we could not afford all the extra bells and whistles. Somehow, though, my parents found ways to purchase presents and a tree. We would drive down to our local Chubby and Tubby (for those who remember the good old days) to pick out our
tree. But aside from the tree, that was it. We didn’t typically have lights for outside the house, no nativity scene, or eggnog or any of the other standard US Christmas paraphernalia.

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Human Anything Helps

Although I work at Congregations for the Homeless, I don’t have much contact with our clients. I’m the IT Guy, so I mostly work with the office staff and case managers. I stop by the various computer labs, but it’s easier to do my work when nobody’s using the computers. So my
impressions of homeless guys tend towards the ones we all see—somebody standing on a corner with a cardboard sign that says “Homeless Anything Helps.”

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Behind the Scenes: Williams Family

“Volunteering as a family is two good things put together,” says 13-year-old Emi Williams. “First, I get to volunteer to help others, and
second I get to do it with my family.”

Emi, her 16-year-old brother Reece, and her mom and dad – Alicia and Doug Williams – have volunteered for the past 3 years to supervise the preschool class during all the Easter morning services at BelPres so that other families can attend worship.

The family reminisces about some of their favorite memories with the 3, 4 and 5 year-olds. They speak fondly of the time a tiny 3-year-old boy jumped up during the preschool worship time and announced: “God loves us so much; He loves us forever.”

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Unexpected Results

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them,“”Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:8-14

Whereas most kids love Christmas day, my kids don’t. It’s an unexpected, and in many ways wonderful, result of a decision my wife and I made 15 years ago. When we first arrived at BelPres, we decided that in December I would dramatically reduce the number of evening meetings I attended to allow for more family time during the Christmas season. That decision led to the question, what should
we do with the extra time? We decided we would create a variety of activities that we would do every year – drive around looking at Christmas lights, Snowflake Lane, take my daughters to the Nutcracker (my son was nevern interested in that one), drink hot chocolate and eat Christmas cookies by the fire while watching Christmas movies. At the time my kids were toddlers, but as they grew we added other traditions like a day spent in downtown Seattle to shop, look at the Gingerbread house display, and visit the Pike Place Market.

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Expectations

Last year l purchased some gorgeous deep burgundy colored nasturtiums at the local nursery, and carefully collected their seeds at the end of the season. It was with great expectation that I sowed these seeds in my planting containers and awaited the coming colorful display. In time, my garden boxes were filled with a profusion of blooms in just about every color except the original burgundy! My vision for the garden was not achieved, so I had to decide whether to rejoice in this unexpected development or rip out the offending plants and start over at the nursery.

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Worship Interrupted

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – Luke 2:4-7

Keychain leadership is easy to recognize and has unexpected benefits. When I was a teenager, I was blessed with the opportunity to share my musical gifts in worship. Our youth leader handed over the worship time to the youth group. We built each other up, we learned new songs, we gained new volunteers, and we formed a strong worship team with a bunch of high schoolers. Over time as I transitioned from high school to college, I took a more significant leadership role in the youth group. Our youth leader began to give us more and more responsibility, to the point of giving me keys to the fellowship hall. Handing over the keys to the building led me to ministry that I could have never imagined.

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Picture of Lily Laursen

Behind The Scenes: Lily Larsen

“Church feels like a blessing. It feels like home to me,” says Lily Laursen, who has been at BelPres since she was a baby.

Her grandparents — Lew and Judy Steves — have been involved at BelPres since its early years and raised Lily’s mother Dana in the church. Lily’s parents Ross and Dana Laursen are also active at BelPres and have participated in teaching, playing on the softball team, serving as an elder and volunteering with the youth ministry. Lily has a 13-year-old brother Erik.

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Abbie Weaver Volunteer

Behind the Scenes: Abbie Weaver

When her youth group peers and leaders talk about Abbie Weaver, a 17-year-old student going into her
senior year in the fall of 2017, they smile.

“Abbie leads and loves through a compassionate heart,” says high school director Steven Johnson.

Her friend Lily Laursen adds, “Abbie is good at serving people. She knows how to get ‘messy” with people – she asks real questions and goes deep.”

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