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TORRINGTON, CONN (SZS)During this time of the church year called Advent, the church anticipates the celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and prepares for His coming again, whether in our hearts or in the ultimate fullness of time. In addition, although we experience the growing darkness of these days of winter and the challenging darkness of life events, we nevertheless recognize that with the coming of Christ, we are recipients of the Light of the world, which no darkness can overcome. It is also a time when many congregations observe the coming of Christ with a variety of festivities and observances, among them the singing of carols, the lighting of trees, as well as by gathering in special worship, fellowship, and service.

The Ladies Altar Guild of Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, Riverside, Illinois hosted a Štedry Večer luncheon. Held this year on December 10, participants from Slovak Zion Synod congregations in Riverside, Chicago, and Blue Island were joined by Slovaks from other congregations to share a traditional meal reminiscent of the dinner traditionally shared in families on Christmas Eve. In addition to traditional Slavic foods, the unleavened oplatky wafers with honey, and bobalky with poppy seeds were shared. Words of welcome were given by pastor loci, the Rev. Dennis Lauritsen and event coordinator Vera Borysek, followed by a table prayer in Slovak by Bishop Wilma Kucharek.

On December 17, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Stafford Springs, Connecticut hosted a festive holiday meal complete with music and holiday activities for young and old alike. The cost of attending the event was the donation of non-perishable items for others in need. Ascension Lutheran Church, Binghamton, New York hosted a holiday meal for a group of local veterans on December 6 and a Blue Christmas service on December 12 for those who struggle to feel joy during this season. On November 29, Holy Trinity, Trumbull observed an evening of tree lighting, meal fellowship, song, and a visit from Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (see full article here). Members from other congregations, including St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Danbury, Connecticut and Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Muskegon, Michigan have supported specialized services such as holiday baking, including the baking of traditional Christmas breads such as nut, lekvar (prune), and poppy seed kolače. These holiday endeavors support everything from congregational ministries to worthy causes and organizations in the community.

As we journey toward Christmas and you share the special gifts of hospitality and service which God has given you, may your personal and congregational observances always serve to point you toward the best Christmas Gift of all, Jesus Christ our Savior!

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