December 27, 2020: Blessings Amid Challenges
Last Sunday in 2020: Blessings Amid Challenges
- Prelude – “Variations on Joy to the World,” arranged by Pinky Dale; Pinky Dale, harpist
- Welcome – Pastor Brad Beeman
- Scripture reading – Matthew 5:14-16; Jim Stoffer
- Hymn 234 – “O Come All Ye Faithful,” words by John F. Wade; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader; Donna Grubbs, piano; Pauline Olsen, organ
- Hymn 228 – “He is Born the Holy Child,” traditional French carol; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader; Donna Grubbs, piano; Pauline Olsen, organ
- Hymn 230 – “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” words by Phillips Brooks; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader; Donna Grubbs, piano; Pauline Olsen, organ
- “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader
- Prayer time – Deacon Kathleen Charters
- Special music – “The Birthday of a King,” by W. H. Neidlinger; Stacey Fradkin, vocal; Donna Grubbs, piano
- “The Coventry Carol,” English 16th century carol; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader; Pauline Olsen, organ
- Hymn 238 – “Angels We Have Heard on High,” traditional French carol; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader; Donna Grubbs, piano; Pauline Olsen, organ
- Hymn 227 – “The Friendly Beasts,” traditional French carol; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader; Donna Grubbs, piano; Pauline Olsen, organ
- Hymn 224 – “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice,” 14th century Latin tune; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader; Donna Grubbs, piano; Pauline Olsen, organ
- Message – “Blessings Amid Challenges,” Pastor Brad Beeman
- Hymn 246 – “Joy to the World,” by Isaac Watts; Stacey Fradkin, hymn leader; Donna Grubbs, piano; Pauline Olsen, organ
- Postlude – “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice!,” arranged by Robert W. Thygerson; Pauline Olsen, organ
Dear friends, in looking back at this past year, we’ve had blessings in abundance. We talk so much about the challenges, the fights, the dangers, and the negativity, what if we took some time to look back at the blessings. Here’s what I’m asking, and I’ll be asking this again in my Christmas letter; take out a piece of paper, a notebook, anything you can write on, and here’s your assignment. List the gifts, the blessings, the wonders you’ve been given over this past year. Take some time, and I mean, really take some time, list them. Then, take some time to thank God for them.
But that’s not all. I have another assignment beyond the first. So second, make a list of the gifts you’ve offered, shared, even given to others over this past year? It’s important to recognize both. Here’s what I mean.
As I think about the first list, and let me share this for both Dorothy and me. One little three-letter word: YOU. God answered our prayers and we were able to move here. We were given the opportunity to begin ministry with you. We were able to buy a home in a wonderful community. We’ve already made friendships that are deep, wonderful, fun, and abiding. They really will last for the rest of our lives, but that’s not all.
We were able to spend time together for those first three or four months. No, it wasn’t in the sanctuary. It was in the parking lot. Who knew that any church could provide a meaningful worship experience in a parking lot. But together, with a lot of help and patience, we did. And speaking of the parking lot, we were able to assist with other volunteers and help provide food for the hungry here in Sequim. The feeding program grew to include the parking lot of the church where over 500 families were fed every other week. In total, approximately 300 tons of food was distributed. Yup, 300 tons. Talk about a blessing.
In addition to the feeding, in the midst of Covid, the people of this church got re- ally creative about the creation of masks. This church created and distributed hundreds and hundreds of masks. In the midst of Covid, we found ways to offer weekly worship, and get it into the homes of a whole lot of folks. It took a full community to accomplish it, and we’re still learning, but every week the people of Trinity and beyond are able to worship together albeit from a distance. It is what continues to connect us. We were able to continue to offer classes and groups; were able to attend the Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute, albeit online. We were able to share a service with Bill and Jenny where the four of us were able to exchange gifts, give hugs, and say goodbyes. There are so many others but let me now move to the third piece of the assignment.
This is the final Sunday of 2020. All I can say is thank God. 2020 is about to come to end. A new year is upon us and there is a lot to be thankful for as we now begin to look ahead. Next year a vaccine will be distributed to millions of people, including all of us. The distribution has already begun. Next year will be the year of what they call “herd immunity,” and Covid will not have the influence it has had over this year. Next year we’ll be able to get together again as a church, worship in the sanctuary, and sing…yup, sing together.
Next year there won’t be a presidential election that would split the country literally in half. It will be a year of healing and hope if we allow it to be. Next year our choir will be back and singing, as will the Peninsula Singers, the orchestra, and all of the other special groups that gather in the sanctuary.
Next year we’ll be able to offer community dinners, classes and groups, and fellowship opportunities with each other. Next year the festivals in our community will be able to be offered again. And next year we will be able to, once again, provide the ministries of healing and hope, of peace and love, of influence and faith but this time, face to face. Friends, there is always a beginning and an end; and that sets up the potential of a new beginning. This is such a time. Now, to close this service I have one more thing to say. It is thank you.
As we bring this year to a close I want to say thank you, to Bill and Jenny, to this staff, to all of the volunteers, to those who sent cards and made phone calls to others in the church, to all of the neighborhood leaders who arranged times to meet, to those who continued to see themselves as the hands and feet of Christ – feeding, clothing, supporting all of those in need. I thank God for those who stepped in to assist in worship, in service, and in so many other elements that make us “church.” You really are the best. You have brought the love of God and made it tangible. I thank God for you, all of you, for you are the light of the world…each one of you. Happy New Year, sisters and brothers of Trinity, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in 2021.