It is as the amount of daylight hours diminish and the number of hours of nighttime darkness grows that we celebrate Advent. Advent calls us to hope, love, joy, and peace. This Sunday we celebrate Joy and will do so by looking at the Gospel of Joy that is inside the cartoon classic "Frosty the Snowman". I truly believe that beloved classics continue to speak to people because of their hidden Gospel message that are contained in them. We often don't notice the Good News nuggets hidden in these gems and it is fun to lift them up so that we can fully appreciate them. And it is these days of less sun filled daylight hours we need to be reminded of the joy that comes from the Lord and that we know and believe that no matter what the Son is shining into our lives and world. We all have struggles that we can let overwhelm us and bring us down or we can decide to still be able to find joy even in the valley of darkness. Thumpety thump, thump, thumpety thump, thump...
This Sunday we were supposed to go caroling to peoples homes. We have decided to change the plan and to be cautious. We do this because the numbers of with COVID are still pretty high in our area and still waiting to get more information regarding the Omicron variant. Some of the people we will visit have very compromised immune systems and we do not want to be the ones that send them to the hospital. And while people love Christmas caroling we have come up with a way for more of us to be involved in showing them love. We will have sturdy bankers boxes to fill with items that we will deliver to the homes of people. We are going to have the children decorate the boxes during Children's Worship. We are asking people to bring in items to put in these boxes of Christmas love (we have 17 boxes). We will be filling the boxes after the 10:30am service and then they will be delivered. We will also have a table with Christmas cards for each one of the homes we will be visiting. People can sign the cards and write messages of Christmas love on the cards for people they know and care about. All in all more people will be able to be involved and we can assure we are keeping our most vulnerable members safe from COVID.
On Sunday evening our Youth Group will be having their final get together for the year and will be decorating some HUGE gingerbread people. They meet at 5pm downstairs at church with dinner provided and it is open to any youth in grades 6-12. We are working on building up our outreach to youth and would love for you to let people know about this mission of our church. We also need some more people willing to help lead and support this ministry.
While we do our best to provide good online worship it is not the same as being in the sanctuary. If you are in the sanctuary during Advent you are going to notice that each week the decorations and symbols of faith will be moving and changing. We also know that no matter how good the soundboard is it can't give you the exact same sound and feel of being in the sanctuary. So for those of you who can't be with us in the sanctuary I am going to attach a picture from the sanctuary area to let you see some of the views you can't fully see on the live-feed. As always we are live-streaming on our Facebook page or our YouTube channel.
We do have a person that can see the comments posted if there are sound issues. While we don't want to fixate on every little sound issue we do want to know when something is way off and affects your ability to be able to enter into worship.
We are not passing offering plates so the wooden boxes are available to put your offering in. Of course you can also give online, use text to give (844-406-0358), or mail in the offering to church. This is a great time of year for those that are retired to make sure you have spent the required amount from your retirement accounts. If you have not you can send funds to the church to help support our ministries and it qualifies as part of your mandatory drawdown. Also, those that have stocks that have gone up and don't want to sell them and pay the tax penalty we have ways you can gift them to the church. You don't pay any taxes and actually can get a tax deduction if you qualify! We have worked hard to come up with many ways for you to support the ministries of our church.
We will be collecting prayers in the prayer box on the table in the parlor. Also, if you have announcement that you need to be shared please write them down and give them to me before the service. This will be an ongoing practice for prayers and announcements to help ensure that they are heard and understood by all (especially those worshipping with us virtually).
Just a quick note as you plan for Christmas Eve. We do have members that do not come to worship in the sanctuary because we do not require masks. They have been very gracious and understanding and have instead been watching online. This year we have multiple Christmas Eve services that are available. The 7pm Christmas Eve service has traditionally been very, very full. With COVID being a concern still and that service being a service that can be very full we are going to make that service a mask required service. If you are someone who can't stand wearing a mask you can come to the 5pm or 11pm service. This also allows our members who need the extra layer of protection to have a Christmas Eve service they can attend. While we have been calling the 5pm service the contemporary service, it is going to have the traditional Christmas carols and will end with candlelight and Silent Night and Joy to the World. It is just going to have a little more relaxed feel than the 7pm service. Both the 5pm and 7pm services are going to have violin, cello, banjo, and special singers led by Holly Phillips. Of course the 11pm will be the Christmas Communion service and for that service Joe Coleman will be leading the music. We will be live-streaming both the 5pm and 7pm services. Please invite people to come join us in any way people can.
Ok, so as the darkness in the sky grows let our joy radiate out into the world. Come this Sunday to be reminded of the joy that God wants for us in our lives. Come ready to worship and to give yourself completely to God as we proclaim the truth that God is with us!