The Art of Celebrating

I know Christmas is over. But my observations are not so much about Christmas per se, as they are about us as a people, a church family that grows together from ever so many differences, contrast, fragmentations and other dynamics that, in the secular world, would have kept people apart. Just look at the pictures from our Christmas party! Are they not hilarious?

First, our guests from the Colts Neck Reformed Church arrived: A large part of their Senior Choir, to sing with us. Some choristers from Colts Neck were well known to us, as they had participated in previous years in the reconstruction of our bathrooms. We had a great dinner time together – with pizza, homemade under Erie’s leadership.

Now the music and choir directors took over: Maggie and David Tripold from the Colts Neck Reformed Church and Ben Berman for us. Not that we were allowed to sing any carols! Instead, we had a singing campaign with each choir giving samples of its more difficult repertoire. In the end, we mixed and sang the first Chorus from Handel’s Messiah together: “And the Glory of the Lord…: See the pictures of the listeners, especially the ones that show Sandy and Walter and Julius and Allison.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus interrupted the musical gathering with a loud “Ho-Ho-Ho!” Bruce had jumped in at the last minute, and Lolly was a most attentive wife. We had so much fun. In the end, Bruce summarized, “There’s a lot of ham in Hamilton!” Just as funny was the pageant rehearsal that followed. In true European-proletarian tradition, Erie and Lolly brought in this humungous, paint-covered ladder when it was time for the angel to appear. And there he was, this Gabriel in blue jeans, with something like a misappropriated white plastic tablecloth over his shoulders and a golden halo in his hair. It was a sight to behold, and it was driving home the point that Christ was born, not in the royal chambers of the eternal city, but in a feeding trough, which may even have smelled.

All the while, our Colts Neck guests enjoyed a tour of the church and a visit to the grave of Dr. John Henry Livingston, the pastor whose work in the late 18th century had laid the foundation of our American denomination’s independence from the mother church in the Netherlands.

Now, you tell me, was this a well-rounded evening or not? I am grateful for all the support from many sides that had made this possible. I am especially grateful for the rather meaningful relationship that is developing between Colts Neck and us.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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