Pastoral Messages | December 7, 2016

This time of year, I find something special hitting bookshelves across town – holiday-themed children’s books. Filled with re-imagined familiar stories and bright illustrations, the time between Halloween and Christmas is a book-lover’s dream. Stacks of Christmas children’s books are one of my favorite things about this time of year. One of the best holiday books I have encountered was Auntie Claus, the story of Sophie Kringle, a young girl in Manhattan trying to figure out her eccentric aunt.

From the flamboyant decorations, to perpetual diet of cookies, to the annual “business trip” she always takes between Halloween and Valentine’s Day, Auntie Claus never fails to confound and intrigue young Sophie. A whole new world is opened up the day Sophie decides to stowaway on this trip and discovers who her aunt really is. Suddenly it becomes clear how Santa achieves all of his holiday magic – with the help of his eccentric New Yorker sister, Auntie Claus. Her organizational skills are unrivaled, and her creativity is admired by all the elves in the North Pole. But the real thing that makes Auntie Claus the unsung hero is her generosity.

“It is far better to give than to receive darling” she chants to Sophie through the book. As they navigate their adventure behind-the-scenes of the North Pole, little Sophie begins to see that her aunt is much more than meets the eye.

Behind-the-scenes heroes often go unsung this season. Any holiday magic happening around our own homes is often the doing of people out of the spotlight. To begin to think about the behind-the-scenes holiday magic that fills St. Paul this time of year is dazzling. Every day I am struck at how many people live and move and have their being serving around this place. If I were to ever stowaway on any one of their “business trips,” like Sophie, I have no doubt that I would be standing wide-eyed at all they do to work for generosity, justice. and peace.

Earlier this week, there was a small gathering of the folks who volunteer in the office around St. Paul. The behind-the-scenes jobs of stocking envelopes, folding bulletins and sharpening pencils are essential to having any type of holiday magic around this place. I am so grateful for all the “Auntie Claus” people who have mastered the art of living generously. This season, as we move towards Christmas, remember those who are behind the scenes. I know I am grateful for the all the “Aunties” in my life.

Amy Diller, pastor in residency

2 Comments on “Aunties”

  • Sue Grove

    December 11, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    I am always happy to get a new book title, Amy. I will look forward to reading Auntie Claus. Me too, I am grateful for all the “Aunties” in my life and in my path.

  • Becky Pilcher

    December 9, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    This is truly a wonderful story. There are so many people out there that go out of their way to help others not just a Christmas time but all thru the year!!

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,



6just as He says also in another passage,



7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight