Dear Members and Friends,
Our celebration of Advent is well underway. As we focus upon the first coming of Christ to secure our salvation through his life, death, and resurrection, we also consider the second coming of Christ to settle our salvation once and for all. On that day, we will weep and worry no more; we will sin and suffer no more. On that day, all will be well. Until that day comes, we must endure all that ails us with faith, hope, and love.
The Spirit of Advent and Struggle
Sometimes, the spirit of Advent is misunderstood. It is understandable that many people associate Advent with quiet nights sitting around a decorated Christmas tree enjoying special moments with loved ones as we read the story of Jesus’s birth. Hope, peace, joy, and love warm our hearts as we do so. Yet, if we are not careful, we may miss the element of struggle that accompanies Advent. If so, our experience of such sacred sentiments may not sink into the deep places of our souls where they are most needed, especially as we witness so much social and global upheaval.
Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem ignited a genocide perpetrated by a tyrannical and insecure governor named Herod. God’s people feared for the well-being of their friends and families. They longed for a new day to come. Having not heard a fresh word from God in approximately 400 years, many of God’s people were discouraged and doubtful that divine intervention would ever arrive. Yet, it did come.
And, rest assured, it will come again. The element of struggle will surround that day too. Nevertheless, Christ will come again, breaking through and forever absolving our fears, discouragements, and doubts.
Associating struggle with all that Advent represents may serve our souls well this time around. Perhaps being restricted by a pandemic and fatigued by politics provides a context in which we may appreciate and anticipate the comings of Christ more deeply than ever before. That is our prayer for each of you, especially in light of difficult decisions we are making for our church.
December Adjustments to In-Person Gatherings
In light of the current rise in COVID cases and strain being placed on our city’s healthcare system as well as the high likelihood that social interactions will increase for many people due to the holidays, we have decided to pause temporarily the RSVP-Required In-Person element of our weekly worship gatherings. We will continue live-streaming our service each week at 10:30 a.m., and, Lord willing, we will reconvene the RSVP-Required In-Person element on Sunday, January 10. Please understand that this decision is not driven by fear but by the love we hold for each of you as well as for our neighbors.
In the meantime, we hope to establish a network of outdoor “satellite” gatherings. Such a gathering would project the live-stream service in some capacity outdoors with others. If you are open to hosting a “satellite” gathering outside your residence, please reply and let us know so we can equip you to do so and point people in your direction who would like to gather in that capacity.
Not being able to assemble together on Sundays may seem to compound the struggles of current crises. Please know we feel that struggle deeply. We believe everyone in our community feels similarly. All of us want to gather together and worship in person. But, let’s not allow the struggle to strangle us (or to cause us to strangle each other :)). Instead, let’s lean in and allow the struggle to serve us by taking us deeper in appreciation and anticipation of the comings of Christ.
Pastor Andrew and your Eldership Board