It is no secret that 2020 has been exhausting for everyone, church staff included. This week the whole staff will be taking some time out to rest and reset. Staff will have Monday & Tuesday off, as well as Friday, January 1.
Dec 27th is a Service of Word featuring our Synod leaders and worship filmed in San Francisco's St Mark's Lutheran Church.
January 3rd worship is a service of lessons and carols featuring ELCA clergy from across our conference. (No bulletin needed, words are on screen).
This allows not only pastors and staff to re-set, but the countless volunteers who step up week after week to make online worship not only possible, but meaningful.
January 10th we return with our own broadcast for Epiphany with our special "Star Words" service.
We are grateful to be part of a larger church that supports us in ministry and thankful to be part of a loving congregation.
At a recent staff meeting, we tossed around ideas for things to talk about today, and that got a larger conversation going about what we typically focus on in these brief articles - practical matters about what is happening at PoP or stories about people are engaging in helping activities through Prince of Peace.
While these are good things and right to focus on, there is another aspect to being a church community that we are all in need of attending to - especially this season, this year - and that’s a life-giving faith. Because just like our articles for this email, we all often focus on the practical responsibilities of life, the tangible realities and people we must work and/or contend with to meet the days’ demands - and so much more so during this season.
And yeah, this goes for your pastors too. We are also caught up in those practical parts of life, and we also struggle to make time to practice our spirituality, but I will say that, on those occasions when we do make time for prayer, mediation, scripture, songs, silence or any other intentional spiritual time, the rewards are worth the efforts, no matter how awkward. And they are awkward.
If we take nothing else away from this short article, please hear this: faith practices are life-giving, but they are skills that we develop with time and practice. No one, not even us professionally-religious types, can do any of this without feeling uncomfortable at first. But that discomfort does pass, I promise. The consequences of commitment to spiritual practices are rewarding. They have the capacity to truly connect us that which gives life to the universe, to fill us with a larger sense of purpose, and a greater love for those around us.
And so, while we rush through the tasks of this particular Christmas season, I would encourage you to pick up a spiritual habit along with the online shopping and meal preparations; so that these times may be ones that are about more than finding the right gift or making the best meal, but that they genuinely feel like the gifts you give, whatever they may be, are extensions of the love in your heart which you have learned how to stoke this season, that your meals may be more than delicious food that fills your belly, but also a time that fills your spirit, and finally, may this season be about more than filling our homes with decorations and a fir tree - may it also be a time for making space in our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Luther, especially for anyone who is feeling more down this season, “Pray, and let God do the worrying.”
Our Advent theme this year is "Making Meaning and Finding Hope in Hard Times" because...2020. To soften the blow, Pastors, staff, and volunteers delivered Advent kits to homes last weekend. A lot of love and work went into those kits.
By the numbers: