It Was Enough

2020 was a year like no other with Covid forcing us into isolation. We hung a sign in our proverbial windows that said, “Closed until further notice.” Of course, some were more willing to venture out sooner than others. At St. Luke’s, we did our best to stay in contact, care for all, and to share the Gospel in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. We worshiped with our congregation through the lens of a TV camera every Sunday for months. Our Online Ministry kept us going and connected.
When Advent rolled around a year ago, we knew it would be different…

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In Good Times and Bad

Just days before Thanksgiving, my daughter began to feel ill. I immediately thought, “She has Covid.” We immediately scheduled a test and by that afternoon she and I had both been tested for the virus and promptly quarantined. As we awaited the results, all the fears that come with the unknown crept into my mind – where has she been, who has she seen, what about school, what about our work, and what about our Thanksgiving plans with family?

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St. Luke’s Children’s Centers

During 2020, all of us had some challenges to face that required us to make changes – some more than others. St. Luke’s Children’s Centers had to make some large changes to face the challenges. Our biggest challenge by far was opening our Hope Centers. This was a program endorsed by The Department of Human Services that enabled us to conduct school virtually from our childcare sites.

We were blessed with teachers who were able to step in and work with the children on the online platform for their individual schools. Having virtual school enabled the parents to be able to work and not have to worry whether their child was completing their assignments or having to teach them while doing their job at the same time.

Another challenge was during Christmas.

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Welcome Him Into Your Heart

One of my favorite songs of Christmas is the carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem.  My favorite part of it is the last two lines of the first verse: 

Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the Everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears, of all the years, are met in thee tonight.

Looking at those words helps to reveal what Christmas does for us.  This world can appear full of darkness, full of pain, full of brokenness, but there is light and love born into the world.  In the midst of the dark streets, the Everlasting Light shineth.  When we encounter darkness in our own lives, it can certainly give way to fear; but it’s important for us to remember that Light conquers darkness.

Think about the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – there is no darkness in a spot occupied by candlelight…

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O Come Emmanuel!

I’ll never forget the 2020 Christmas experience. We weren’t able to meet in person for the Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service last year due to the pandemic. Instead, we met online to worship together. We had prerecorded the worship service so that it would be ready for television broadcast on December 24. It gave me an opportunity that I hadn’t had before: to worship alongside some of my family on Christmas Eve. Of course it wasn’t the way I wanted to celebrate Christmas Eve;
I was thoroughly disappointed to not be in the Sanctuary with the family of faith and a room full of candles shining as we sang Silent Night. But in place of the way I’ve celebrated Christmas Eve for almost every year of my life, I had something so special and intimate that it became one of the top worship experiences of my life.

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Luke 1:11-20, 57-64

And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechari′ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechari′ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth;
for he will be great before the Lord,
and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink,
and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit,
even from his mother’s womb.
And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli′jah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

And Zechari′ah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”

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Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord is God!
    It is he that made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

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Prepare Him Room

I leave my house early every Sunday morning. It is dark and there are very few cars on the road. Before I leave my driveway, I turn on my worship playlist and begin singing songs of praise to God as I prepare myself for worship that morning. Sometimes, I sing all the way to the church. Sometimes, I turn off the music and spend time in prayer… I am glad it is dark or other drivers might just think I am crazy.

That time in the car is so important to me as I prepare to encounter God in worship…

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Isaiah 12

You will say in that day:
    “I will give thanks to thee, O Lord,
    for though thou wast angry with me,
thy anger turned away,
    and thou didst comfort me.

 “Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the nations,
    proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

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Kindness Always Has a Place

Keith Orr is not the first person you would expect to see suited up in pads, ready to do battle on the gridiron. Keith is a small boy for his age.  He is also learning disabled and has struggles with social interaction.  Even though Keith does not seem to be cut from the same mold as the other football players on his team, he has found a home with them.  Every time Keith dresses out for practice and games, he is treated as just another player.

During the hard work of a football season, the players on the Olivet team went out of their way to plan a remarkable play…

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