Waiting (December Newsletter Pastor's Note)

Updated: Jan 24

I have an Advent playlist that is just about the most melancholic set of songs one could curate. It seems to fit especially well as we enter this Advent season. This week, my sons will get their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine - an event that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it, and one that may be accompanied with some real tears shed that day - mine or theirs. Will and I are boosted with Moderna, so it will be a fully vaccinated Christmas for us this year. It’s overwhelming to think about this milestone, for which we’ve been waiting so long.

Advent is a season of waiting. Waiting for the birth of Jesus, and waiting for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Waiting for the final reign of Christ. We’ve been waiting to return to normal, but we know there is no real return to what once was. I’m really grateful for the opportunities we’ve seen and those yet to be realized in our expansion into the digital realm. I’m so grateful for our amazing volunteers - especially Joe and DeAnne. What they’ve helped us do is deliver worship from the sanctuary at a high production value, and in a way that keeps us more connected than we ever thought possible online.

At the same time, it’s been good to have some of you back in worship on Sundays. We’ve been limiting numbers and keeping precautions in place, like distancing, lower capacities, and mask-wearing, and we’ll continue to do that. I think that maybe we’re shifting from waiting to returning, and this is what that looks like. We don’t really know what to expect moving forward, but we will continue to move forward, prioritizing the safety of the community while also increasing our opportunities to be together, in the flesh. We’re moving forward, cautiously and deliberately.

We completely respect the many reasons that people local to the church might want to continue worshiping online. The COVID Task Force would also like to welcome more of you - back, or here for the first time. Most weeks we have room for more in the Sanctuary, and plenty of room in the Commons, for those who want to be here but are happy to see the livestream. If you’ve experienced past worship services with the Commons as overflow, rest assured it is a very different, much improved experience!

The ACE team is still working on plans for Christmas Eve, but we will definitely have something in person at 5pm here, and we will definitely have something that you can watch from home, too. Stay tuned for more details. Whether it is for Christmas Eve or one of our Sunday services, we’d love to welcome you back. At the same time, we want to build a community that is fully inclusive of those who are worshiping in person, live online, or by video after the fact, and if you have suggestions for improving this, let us know.

I’m continuing to learn with and from others about hybrid ministry, and how we can do what we’re doing in the digital space better. That includes everything from email to our website, our Facebook presence, and Instagram, too. We’ve added a text number as another way to connect, on Sunday mornings or other times, and we’ll keep developing that, too. Thank you for your patience and grace as we navigate the waters of change together. I think we’ll be sailing in this sea for the foreseeable future!

However you choose to mark this meaningful season, may you feel grounded in God’s presence, and more connected through this community of faith. Know that each and every one of you are in my love and prayers, wherever you are.

Grace and Peace,

​Stephanie

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