As the end of the year approaches (Christ the King Sunday is just a week away and the First Sunday of Advent is the following week), I wanted to write a few words that we may carry with us over the next several weeks leading up to the Christmas season.
First, with so much focus this year on the Covid19 virus, and what we could not do, a few things need to be said about the grace of God and what we were able to do. Trinity never closed, we moved very quickly and efficiently to online worship, Confirmation and Sunday School, and even had online coffee hours. With Pastor Bruce’s help and with Eric Benkert’s technical expertise and incredible commitment, we never missed a Sunday. Then with the addition of Thomas Loomis at just the right moment, we had good music as well. No doubt, we all missed having the Eucharist and those who cannot attend in person still do, but hopefully in the coming months after we get through the winter, things will get better.
Currently, our youth groups are meeting, we are holding online Sunday School and Confirmation Classes. We are moving confirmation to in person classes beginning in December, and we have in person adult education each Wednesday morning. Our men’s breakfast is back each month and we’ve had a number of events including special events to support our Mission Team. The Stephen Ministry also continues. It will also be remembered for a long time just how great Trinity’s VBS was this year.
Your support of Trinity’s food pantry has been remarkable and we have certainly been helped in the effort by a number of local organizations. We have had an incredibly dedicated group of volunteers who collect, sort, stockpile, maintain and fill grocery orders for people in need. The Friends Kitchen has continued throughout the pandemic providing needed hot meals to those in need. Again, a group of truly dedicated and compassionate people have figured out how to serve people despite the limitations placed on them by the virus.
In all of these things and more you have been very generous with your time, talents and money. The ministry of this congregation continues to thrive even in this difficult time because of your good stewardship. I am very grateful to you for that. And even in the pandemic, the facilities here, that you maintain so well, have been instrumental in providing places where many groups have gathered (under social distancing protocols) to have everything from bingo to boy scouts.
I can’t thank our church staff enough. Sue Rutledge, Barbara Hutter, and Susie Sacher have gone above and beyond in organizing events, keeping track of all the activities, ordering extra supplies, and making the quick changes necessary to keep things moving forward.
Looking ahead, the Congregation Council is putting together the Transition Team that will get Trinity ready for the call process to find a new associate pastor. My hope is that in the spring we will be ready to interview candidates. We will have to be diligent in our work to make this happen, but this would enable us to be ready, perhaps, to call someone directly from the seminary.
As Advent begins, we begin our preparation for the Christmas season by looking forward to Christ’s second coming, and preparing ourselves for the celebration of the Incarnation. I would encourage you, as you are able, to join us in any way you are comfortable in worshipping during the Advent season. We have been waiting for a long time, but there is an expectation of us on the part of our Lord, that we will not wait passively. We’re expected to continue in our efforts to be a people who exercise mercy to others even as we prepare our own hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Christmas Services this year will be a mix of tradition and innovation as gather for worship. Since we cannot sing indoors, we will, in addition to our indoor services, have two outdoor services of lessons and carols. At all of our services we will sing Silent Night and light our candles to welcome the Lord, and at our late service we will celebrate the Eucharist. We will do our best to be certain that no matter what venue for worship you choose to attend, they will be fitting services at which to join the shepherds and magi in welcoming our Lord.
As the season of Thanksgiving is upon us, it would be easy and cynical to think that there is nothing to be thankful for this year. Yet, a few nights ago, our high school youth gathered for an overnight camp out at Trinity. We had a conversation about thanksgiving and how to live with grateful hearts. Everyone had reasons to be thankful. They were thankful for family, friends, teachers, school openings, life, and creation, just to name a few. If anything, 2020 has helped us to see, it is how much we mean to one another, and how God has gifted us with the love of friends and family.
In these coming weeks, as the days grow shorter and the darkness lengthens, take heart, for the Lord is near. God knows that these past months have been difficult and painful, and we have not been immune, but Jesus has been, and remains present with us, even when we have been unable to be with one another.
We don’t know what 2021 will bring, but we know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be with us, and that is enough.
Thank you all for your continued faithfulness and peace be to all of you. Have a most blessed Thanksgiving.
Yours in Christ,