My Dear Ones in Christ,
This Advent and Christmas season is like no other that we have experienced. The pandemic has taxed us in many ways. We have had differing opinions about the severity of the disease and the proper response to it. We each have chafed to one degree or another under the restrictions we are following so that we do not further the spread of this novel coronavirus. We have stayed home in a close “pod” or “bubble” with others so that we can still have some human contact while not raising the risk of contracting or transmitting the virus. And others have stayed home alone in their own pod. And both the isolation for all of us and the drastic change in our daily routines and interactions are daunting. I know. I believe. I understand. Certainly, we had hoped that the urgency would have passed by now and that we would be “back to normal.” Yet that is not to be.
As we are people of hope, we know that the virus does not have the last word. The deaths it has caused do not have the last word. The restrictions and cautions under which we live do not have the last word. We are people of hope. Even as I write this, vaccines are making their way to the corners of our country to protect the first-line workers and the more frail among us. Hope. Hope among us. Hope lived in and through us.
Christmas this year will not be what we have cherished in years past. Yet, let there be no mistake about it – Christmas is not cancelled this year. Our celebration of the birth of Jesus and our joy that he will come again cannot be stopped. Christmas will happen, whether we celebrate it at our kitchen table or family rooms or lanais or on a long walk around the lake. Christmas will happen if we have a big and fancy dinner or if our supper is a bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Christmas is about what God has done, is doing and will continue to do. Christmas celebrates God’s gift of grace to us and we embrace it fully even when we do so in unexpected ways.
Our worship for the Christmas Season continues to be online. Details about the various services are found on the next page. Celebrate Christmas throughout the Twelve Days!
I know that Christmas can often bring mixed feelings – certainly joy at God’s love for us but also perhaps some sadness as we miss times past and maybe even some grief as we are aware of those who are no longer with us. If it may be helpful to talk about this, please do not hesitate to give me a call. I cherish these conversations.
I wish you a blessed Christmas season and offer this prayer:
May your heart be awake to all you love the most.
for those gathering digitally, we pray uncomplicated and strong connections;
for those in poor health, we pray healing and joy in each day;
for those in sadness, we pray an extra measure of God’s presence;
for those despairing, we pray the blessing of hope;
and for all, we pray that Jesus will draw us ever closer to his heart.
In Christ’s love,
Christmas Eve narrative, “God with Us” 6:00 PM
This is a pre-recorded service of the story of God with Us in which several members of our congregation are participating. It will be available at our webpage (www.gracelakeland.com) at 6:00 PM and you may watch at any time after that.
You may want to watch it more than once.
Christmas Day Morning Prayer 10:30 AM
This will be broadcast from Pastor Pam’s home via Facebook Live and will also be available on our webpage.
Christmas Day Special Music via our webpage 11:00 AM
The First Sunday of Christmas, December 27, 2020 10:00 AM
Bishop Suarez will lead and preach this Service of the Word.
You may access it at our website.
Epiphany Festival of Lights, Sunday, January 3 10:00 AM
Service of the Word
Christmas Daily Devotion via Facebook Live 4:00 PM
Every weekday, including January 1, 2021