We have waited and we have prepared and the moment has finally arrived! The Christ child is born and the world has been changed forever. My prayer for you is that you experience the abundant new life that Christ gives throughout the coming year. May God’s peace, love, hope, and grace accompany you as you go about your daily life.
Remember to thank those who set up the altar each week for our worship. They are not always noticed.
This will be my last Sunday with you. My attention has to turn to my ordination and the beginning of my first call. I want to thank you for allowing me to serve you this fall. I have enjoyed getting to know you, and I have learned much from you. May God be with you as you move forward into the future.
Waiting and Wishes
It’s already the fourth week of Advent. The waiting is almost over. The Christ child comes into our lives once again. In truth, however, Christ comes into our lives each and every day – we just don’t always recognize him. Perhaps we could resolve to start looking for Christ in the new year.
I am wishing you a Christmas filled with the gifts of joy, love, and peace – the gifts that come from our gracious God – gifts that never break and are always the right size.
My time with you is nearing its end. Christmas Day will be the last worship service that I share with you. After that, my attention will turn to my ordination and my first call in Lubbock. As exciting as that is, there are also a long list of mundane and not-so-fun things to do, like packing boxes. I have enjoyed my time with you as I began to lean into the role of a full-time pastor, and I have learned much. I hope that you have been blessed by my presence here.
Remember that there is still one more Wednesday night soup supper and worship on December 21. Christmas Eve worship will take place on December 24 at 7:00 pm, and on December 25, we will worship at 10:00 as we always do. These are all wonderful opportunities to feel the presence of God in our lives during this holy season. Hope to see you there.
Here is the link to the short Advent Videos SAWL Darlene has been making.
Or, you could use the QR code below, and it too will take you to correct spot on YouTube.
The texts this week deal with uncertainty. Isaiah speaks to a people in exile, people who had imagined a very different future for themselves. The Psalmist extols the strength of God – something that we often need to be reminded of when we find ourselves in times of uncertainty. James gives us some concrete advice for times of waiting, acknowledging our tendency to become impatient and grumbly when we have to wait. The Gospel reminds us that while we may be confident of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, those of that time were not always so sure – they were trying figure out who this person was that was so different from anyone that they had ever known. Even John the Baptist had to ask – perhaps we can be patient with ourselves in our moments of doubt.
During this season of waiting, continue to support each other in prayer. While it is a busy and joyous season, for some it is a very difficult season. Treat those you encounter with kindness.
On a personal note, one cause of uncertainty in my life has been resolved. This past Sunday, the congregation of Shepherd King Lutheran Church in Lubbock, Texas, voted to call me as their next pastor. Of course, as is so often the case, finding out one piece of the puzzle simply reveals how much more there is that you hadn’t thought about. I will be moving in January, so practical issues like housing and how to get things from one place to another come to the forefront. Prayer for me as I and my husband navigate this transition.
Rest assured that I am with you through Christmas, so we will navigate this holy season together.
-SAWL Darlene Hopkins
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Happy New Year!!
You say that it is a bit early to be wishing all a Happy New Year? Not in the church. Today is the first day of the church year as we begin a new cycle of readings and observances. So yes, Happy New Year!
Today we enter the season of Advent – the four Sundays preceding Christmas. This is a time of reflection, repentance, and preparation for the event of the birth of the Christ child. This is an event that happened in the past historically, that happens in the present as we live into our faith, and that will happen in the future when the kingdom of God is fully manifested. This is one of those special times of the year that we mark with midweek services. This year they will be held on:
Each of these days we will gather for a simple meal followed by a short worship service. Dinner will begin at 5:30 and the service will begin at 7:15. Please take some time out from the busy-ness of Christmas as it is celebrated in our culture to slow down and reflect on the mystery that is unfolding – the mystery that God would see fit to become one of us, to live among us.
In order for us to share a meal, we will need volunteers to bring soup and bread or crackers. Two pots of soup should be enough for each week. We will have a signup sheet available on this coming Sunday. Pick your favorite soup to share!
In our society, there is much emphasis this year on social events. It is always good to get together with friends and family, but even this can become exhausting as schedules become filled with all sorts of events in addition to the tasks we feel we must do. There is also much emphasis on gifting. Once again, this is a beautiful custom but it can be carried to the extreme so that we end up spending more than we should for gifts that may or may not really be wanted or appreciated. Take time to step back and look at these obligations and determine what really has meaning for you. Give yourself some grace to rest and enjoy the peace of God that comes to us at Christmas!
One last note – I am putting together a series of brief Advent devotionals on YouTube that you can listen to each day. They aren’t quite done yet, but I’m hereby committing to completing them. You can get to them at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9lwxSCLx0mCs5Rdjn0cfBk6Ru4OtWcR7. It won’t appear until Sunday, and after that, one video will appear each day. I did this last year at Atonement and there were some that found them useful, so I thought I’d try it again.
Wishing you a peaceful and joyous Christmas season!
Time is flying by! It is almost Thanksgiving, and Advent and Christmas follow closely on Thanksgiving’s heels. For those of us who are relatively well off, blessed with friends and family and comfort, it is a time when it is easy to get caught up in the whirl of activities and forget that there are those who are alone, hungry, and hurting. Remember those people in your prayers – we may not know anyone in that situation by name, but we can still pray for them.
Speaking of Advent, we will have Wednesday evening services during the four weeks of Advent. We will begin with a simple shared meal, followed by a simple service. The details are being worked out. More details to come!
At a time when there is so much going on, it is easy to forget to take time for quiet and renewal. Then we arrive at Christmas exhausted and dissatisfied. Take some time to reflect on the promise of the season. Take time to pay attention to the people around you and spread God’s love as far as you can.
If you are looking for an Advent devotional, here are some options:
The Season of Waiting (and Waiting … and Waiting) https://katebowler.com/advent2022/mc_cid=8bfdf78034&mc_eid=3efc08de6b
Fling Wide the Door https://www.luthersem.edu/godpause/advent-devotional/
Gratitude, Prayer, and Devotions
First a few words of thanks –
Many thanks to all who brought food for the breakfast last Sunday – it was all delicious!
Many thanks to all who stepped up to lead in worship this past Sunday in light of Kathy’s unexpected absence – JoAnn Chambers, Debbie Stilson, Mary Ann Manning, and Tom Lee – it was greatly appreciated
The texts for this Sunday are not easy. It will be interesting, even to me, what turns up in the sermon. They may not be easy texts for the congregation to hear, but they are also difficult for the pastor to preach on, also.
I want to encourage you to pray for one another. Each week, the prayer requests are put in the bulletin. Take them home with you and pray for those listed there. Prayer makes a difference in people’s lives, and it is a way for us to love and support one another when there may not be much we can do to help. Especially remember those who are unable to attend church due to health or mobility issues.
We are approaching the holiday season, a busy time for the church as well as everyone else. By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be less than two weeks away. Advent begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If you are wanting devotional material for Advent, you might consider using the materials put out by Luther Seminary as part of their daily GodPause devotionals. They are free, and you can either subscribe to the daily devotional (and get them all year) or you can download the pdf for the season. You can find more information and the downloads at https://www.luthersem.edu/godpause/advent-devotional/.
All Saints Sunday
This coming Sunday we remember the cloud of witnesses that surrounds us – witnesses that have gone on before us and those who still surround us. The body of the church surrounds us, supporting us in our trials, rejoicing with us in our joys, comforting us in our grief, sharing in our life in the kin-dom of God.
You are invited to bring photos of your loved ones to be displayed on Sunday. We will light candles to help us remember the light that they brought into our lives during the service. We will feel their presence with us as we partake of the sacrament.
AND we will enjoy breakfast together before the service, starting at about 9:00!
It will be a full, joyous day as we celebrate our unity in Christ!
This coming Sunday, we celebrate Reformation Sunday – commemorating the day that Martin
Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the doors of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, inviting discussion of the issue of indulgences. As we know now, this led to the Protestant Reformation and was the
beginning of the Lutheran church. We are reminded that it was founded to be ever-reforming,
changing to meet the needs of the communities in which it found itself, always striving to
better proclaim and exemplify the Word of God. We are reminded that faith is not a static
thing that reaches some point at which growth is no longer necessary, but that faith continues
to grow and mature throughout our lifetimes.
In keeping with the Reformation theme, we will be playing Reformation Jeopardy during the
education hour. Brush up on your Reformation history and come prepared for some fun! Who
knows, there might even be prizes (if I get around to thinking about some).
We will continue the celebration after worship with a potluck lunch. Show off your culinary
skills and bring your favorite dish(es) to share will the rest of us!
It will be a celebratory day. Remember to wear RED!
October is almost over – November and the holiday season are almost upon us. This time of
year is filled with special times for many of us – Reformation Sunday, All Saints Sunday,
Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas. I have been planning out the rest of the year so I want to
give a short summary of what to expect so you can mark your calendars and participate as
much as you can or want to.
October 30 – Reformation Sunday
We will have a potluck luncheon after church. Bring your favorite dish(es) to share with
the rest of the Grace community as we take time to enjoy one another’s company.
November 6 – All Saints Sunday
We will remember those faithful ones who have gone before us, who taught us and
inspired us with candles. Feel free to bring pictures of those whom who remember as
important in your faith/life journey. We will also remember our own baptisms with the
Thanksgiving for Baptism during the service.
November 24 – Thanksgiving Day
Enjoy spending the day with friends and family, and remember all that God has given
you (which is EVERYTHING)!
November 27 – Advent begins
We begin to prepare for the arrival of the Christ, the light of the world. Our theme for
the season will be “Awaken to New Life.”
December 21 – Evening Advent Services
During this special season, we will take some extra time to reflect on the gift that has
been given to us, the gifts that are given to us each day, and the gifts that the future
holds. We will gather for a simple meal at 5:30 followed by a short service at 6:15.
December 24 – Christmas Eve
We will have a service of Lessons and Carols to mark this very special night of the church
year as we celebrate the light that has entered the world and the new life that is
promised by that light.
December 25 – Christmas Day
Because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, we will also celebrate a Christmas Day
service. This is a busy day for everyone, but we hope that you will take some time to
join us as we celebrate the Christ child.
There will be much going on in the next few weeks. Come join in the fun!
Plans and Hope
Cooler mornings give me hope that the hot weather is behind us and Fall is finally settling in. The days approaching hold many celebrations for the church. Reformation Sunday falls on October 30, and on the following Sunday, November 6, we will celebrate All Saints Sunday. Of course, Thanksgiving happens at the end of November and then we enter the season of Advent, when we prepare for the Plans are being made for marking these celebrations – they aren’t finalized yet, but watch this weekly email for announcements of upcoming events and plans! It is an exciting time of the year, and we want to enjoy it together.
SAWL Darlene Hopkins