One thing I can say for sure about our holiday season this year: we will remember it! Yes, for many of the wrong reasons, certainly. Still, I envision that a major new thing will also occur—something that you will keep doing in the years ahead when normal returns. I challenge you to keep your eyes and heart open to that novel experience in this time of novel coronavirus. It will do more than simply ease the pain of missing the things you have been doing for decades. Necessity will force us to try some marvelous different activities we would never have imagined were it not for the miserable situation we find ourselves in these days. I’m not suggesting that you need simply to grin and bear this awful alienation we are enduring; but to realize that lessons lie ready for our learning if we lift up our heads enough to be able to scan the horizon for them.

AND we are doing our best from a staff and volunteer perspective to fit in more than a few of the sights and sounds of Christmas Past. I have said this often enough to be accused of being the most-broken record ever; but new and creative ideas are percolating to the top of our thought soil. A bunch of them you will never see as our community wisdom concludes, “Uh, no!” Every now and them, a seemingly-hairbrained idea (often mine) gets greeted with, “Hey, that sounds doable!” So ya never know! The proverbial “box” seldom limits thinking around Third Church. Seems particularly true this year as that box (The way we always do things) has in many cases plain-old disappeared altogether!

We will miss some things this year that tug at our heartstrings. For some of us, people in our closest circles will not live to see another holiday season—and we will be separated from them this year. Some of the activities that tie our senses and sensibilities together will evaporate and not re-condense in the next iteration of life. We can kiss some of the things that orient us to reality an eternal goodbye. Crappy bad news, to be sure. Yet, I need to remind you: Such things have happened before. I can personally recall a shopping basket-full of people and activities that I thought made my life worthwhile that…are gone!! Advent and Christmas still come. We continue to “gather” for worship. Advent candles are lit. The Babe of Bethlehem literally and metaphorically shows up on Christmas Eve. All good!

I understand and mourn the losses we ALL have sustained this year. Still, the spirit of the Christ Child/Lord of All will accompany and shepherd us through this season of challenge. We hope that we will NEVER have another holiday season like this one! And something from this horrible year will find its way into every Christmas Future that God gifts us on this broken and beautiful sphere. You can count on it!

A Holy Advent and a Blessed Christmas to You ALL!!

Pastor Z