Dear Church Family,
Back in March when we were having to suspend in-person services as we observed Lent and celebrated Easter, it was difficult for us both as a church and personally. Now, as we are entering into a third wave of Covid-19 and seeing more cases than ever in our state and in our county, it is even more difficult. For we are about to celebrate Thanksgiving and we are looking towards an uncertain Christmas. For me, Christmas and Advent are some of my favorite times of year. I love the Christmas Eve candlelight service, with the twinkling candlelight filling the dark sanctuary with the presence of the Christ child. I love seeing the church all decorated, love seeing us all come together and place wreaths, ornaments, and ribbons across the sanctuary and fellowship hall. And I love how the Spirit seems to be so present this time of year, in our giving, celebrating, and waiting.
So how do we as a church come together when at the very least we will be spending several weeks of Advent at our homes? Right now, we as the church leadership are even unsure about what our worship is going to look like as we approach Christmas. Will we be able to have an in-person Christmas Eve service? It depends on the coronavirus and how we are doing as a county in combating it. As our numbers continue to rise, it is oh so easy to give up and to feel like we are sinking. So much of the holidays includes so much more than just our churches too. What if we are not able to celebrate with our families, like we are having to distance for Thanksgiving?
I read recently this passage at the end of 2 Corinthians 4 that moved something in my spirit which has been down lately. “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” Despite seeming like it could go on forever, Covid-19 is not going to be our reality forever. Our reality is not in what is seen but what is unseen. It is in the continued presence of God even as we are having to reevaluate Advent and Christmas, in the love that we have for God and for each other that extends beyond human walls and connects our hearts to each other. It is in the glory of the Lord being revealed in small moments that make a lasting impact on us. You all have shown such love to each other and to me. What an outpouring of the Spirit we still have and share, even apart.
As we travel through Advent together, we have given a gift to each family in the church. The boxes, which we are delivering porch to porch, contain Advent candles that can be lit each Sunday, a booklet of devotions to be read with them, an Advent Calendar to help keep us connected to other people and to God, and various other things. Our hope this Advent season is that we can use these objects to stay connected even when we are far away and that they can serve as a reminder that the church is more than the walls of a building. It is each and every one of us.
The road before us may be uncertain in its twists and turns. But God has shown us the glorious end of the journey and how through all things, we are His eternally. Be blessed my church family this holiday season.