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Joy to the world!

Dear Middleway Urban Monastery friends,


If crayons were vying for a Top 10 chart right now, red and green would most likely head the list. There would be some blue, white, sparkly gold and silver, certainly. But pink? Look again. If you or a friend have an Advent wreath, you'll see one lone pink candle - and to be technical, it's actually known as "rose" when used in worship. But the main thing to know is, it stands for joy. This week, we hope you find joy. Seek it out. Watch for it. Observe your surroundings, even if that means slowing down in what often becomes a hectic holiday season. We've planned some things aimed at helping you find joy. Our upcoming plans are below. Middleway's Facebook Group

Chanting for Advent will be on our Facebook group page live at noon Dec. 17-23. Each day will feature a chant antiphon followed by a verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel. There will be a time of prayer following chanting. Check out all our events When Christmas isn't merry and bright

If you or someone you know experiences a "blue Christmas" this time of year - sadness that seems to come out of no where and lasts for weeks - we have cards of encouragement in our foyer. Stop by and get as many as you need. Keep for yourself or give to people who need the message. Key takeway: you are not alone. View our weekly schedule

Additional spiritual directors join Middleway Middleway is pleased to add three additional spiritual directors to our community - Sandy Soghikian, John Pruett, and Kathy Reiter. We now have 10 people available to listen to your life story in a non-judging atmosphere as you discern where God is in your life.

A "spiritual director," or spiritual companion, is one who can listen to you with a holy ear and not try to "fix" you with their solutions. Being listened to -- truly listened to -- is powerfully healing. You and your spiritual director normally meet monthly for an hour. Some directors charge varying amounts, and others do not.

Our current spiritual directors are listed at https://www.middlewayurbanmonastery.org/spiritual-direction. Email us at info@middlewayurbanmonastery.org if you need more information. Common threads knits people's lives through discussion Some bring thread projects such as crochet, knitting, or embroidery, and others don't. But once a month, this group gathers to discuss where God has been revealed in life -- that's the common thread. The next gathering is Dec. 14, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Blue Christmas cards, service Dec. 21 Christmas can be a hard season for many who have experienced loss or family struggles, or find themselves alone during this season. The pandemic also may have accentuated this grief for many. If this is you, a family member or friend, join us on Wednesday Dec. 21, 7-7:30 p.m. for a short service of prayer, scripture and reflection for those who mourn and find Christmas time challenging. The service, led by Heidi Campbell, will also be live streamed on our Facebook group page. At the monastery, we will have free “holiday hope bags” for people to take. These contain prayers and meditation aids to help in the spiritual journey of the holidays. Also over the month of December, in the lead up to this service, Middleway is hosting a Blue Christmas card tree to help provide care and support for those who need hope over the weeks ahead. Stop by and get some encouragement cards for yourself, a friend or neighbor, from a display in the foyer. 12-Step Community discussing "Breathing Under Water" People in any 12-Step program and their friends and families are welcome to our study of Richard Rohr's "Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps." Gather with us Tuesday evenings through Dec. 13. The monastery is open from 5-8 p.m. and the book discussion component, led by Amy and Michael Thompson, is part of the evening. An Irish tradition comes to Middleway soon The 12th day of Christmas is known as the Feast of Epiphany but also as Nollaig na mBan (Gaelic), or "Women’s Christmas." It is meant to reward women for the efforts they’ve made for others' Advent and Christmas seasons. Middleway Urban Monastery will host a casual Women's Christmas party Jan. 6, 2-4 p.m. This is a casual time to gather, relax, and conclude the holiday season with laughter and merriment, led by Kathy Reiter. Done with church but not your faith? If you have left the church during the past four years but still describe yourself as "Christian," a study led by Texas A&M communicators professor Heidi Campbell needs your input. Campbell, who also is a spiritual director and founding member of Middleway, is accepting surveys through Jan. 1 at http://bitly.ws/w9S9 It takes 30-45 minutes to complete the survey. Something for everyone Between now and January there surely is at least one special program of interest for you. When we say ALL are welcome, we mean it. In addition to the those described above, look ahead to these:

  • Blue Christmas cards of encouragement - Nov. 29-Dec. 21. Pick up a card for yourself, a family member or friend who needs a note of encouragement this season. Then, join us for a service with those for whom the season is not so merry. If you're one of them, this is for you. Dec. 21, 7-8 p.m.

  • 12-Step discussion – Breathing Underwater, Tuesdays 6-8 p.m. We'll continue through Dec. 13.

  • Common Threads - This discussion group features a set of questions to help ponder where God has appeared in participants' lives over the previous month. Monthly on second Wednesday, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Next: Dec. 14.

  • Friends of St. Joan - A monthly gathering for youth and young adults who identify as LGBTQIA+. Join us in a safe place to explore spirituality, third Mondays, 6-8 p.m. Next up: Dec. 19.

  • Women’s Christmas, Jan. 6, 2-4 p.m.

  • The Spirituality of Gaming, Jan. 14, 10:30 a.m.-Noon.

  • Journaling One’s Story – This monthly event takes place on 4th Saturdays, so it will take a break for the holidays in November and December, then return on Jan. 28.

  • Book Club – We will take a hiatus for November and December, Then in January our book is "Life of Pi" by Yan Martel, We'll discuss it on Jan. 31, 10:30 a.m. Participants can attend in person on via Zoom.

How to experience the monastery While we offer a variety of programs you can attend, the monastery is also open at least four days a week and some Saturdays for you to just come for a dose of the relaxing atmosphere where no one will bug you. Read, retreat from the hectic pace of your world, use the free art supplies, or partake of any of our prayer techniques that are gently explained in materials throughout the monastery. Children are welcome to come with an adult and may find the art area or special children's spirituality area a way to peace away from electronic distractions. We need you at Middleway Middleway is 100 percent volunteer operated. Come be one who welcomes others into this peaceful place. While there, you'll be able to enjoy the hope, peace and comfort as well. Sign up at https://timecounts.org/middlewaymonastery/. After you've selected the areas you want to volunteer in, you'll be able to click the Opportunities tab, then Assignments, then Available Shifts. If you need assistance, please come by the monastery or email info@middlewayurbanmonastery.org. Middleway Urban Monastery's Guide for Life

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