Dear friends and family of Resurrection,
A new church year is about to begin. Unlike the calendar year, the church year begins four weeks before Christmas with Advent: a season whose designated color is blue-- the color of hope.
I don't know about you, but I am ready for some hope!! This time of year is filled with so many precious traditions and memories, most of them involving celebrations with family and friends.
While many of these traditions will be modified this year, they can still be meaningful and help remind us of the source of our hope: Jesus-- God's love born among us!
Here at RLC, our theme to unite our prayers and worship this year is: Journey into the Light. Most of you have or will be receiving an Advent devotional by that name. Each day, there is a devotion to help you journey with hope toward the light of Christ. If you have not received one and wish to, please email the church office.
You have also received, via email, a guide for making an Advent wreath. Our hope is that you will daily light the candle(s) on your wreath and read the devotion. If you are able to access our web page, I will be leading that devotion online each day to help us feel connected to one another in Christ's light.
In addition, Wednesday evening prayer will be available. We have recorded the Holden Evening Prayer Service using as many candles as possible! As you watch the recording and sing along from home, I hope you are filled with the longing and hope of the season. Christ was born for us and for the whole beloved world. He is with us even now when it seems so dark. And he will come again when the time is right and all will be transformed and gathered together in light and life.
On Thursday, December 17, at 6:30 p.m. we will be live-streaming The Longest Night Christmas service. This is a Christmas service that is designed to enable us to worship Christ while simultaneously mourning our losses. We know that many of you have lost loved ones this past year and been unable to recognize that loss in a traditional way. We hope this worship service will allow you to do that as you watch from home, lighting a candle and saying your loved one's name out loud.
We will also record a Christmas Day service that includes many of our favorite joy-filled Christmas carols. This will be available, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Christmas morning.
On Christmas Eve, many of us will miss our traditional gathering at church with a service of lessons and carols. However, there will be an opportunity to gather briefly outside on Christmas Eve. We are inviting you to come, dressed warmly, and gather around a huge bonfire that will be lit in our field. There we will hear the Christmas story and then sing Silent Night by the light of that fire.
This will not be a long service, but it will be memorable. It may be one of the things that our children will tell their children about in years to come! The light of Christ will blaze brightly!
Finally, on January 6—the day of Epiphany, following the twelve days of Christmas, we will follow another ancient tradition and gather together once more outside around a great fire. Those of you who put up real Christmas trees are invited to bring them to be used as part of that blaze. When the fire is out, some of the ashes will be gathered and used on our foreheads when Ash Wednesday arrives.
Many things change; the church year reminds us that Christ does not. The seasons cycle around and find us in different places, but the living word of God heard in the life of Jesus speaks to us anew and brings us messages of hope and glimpses of light even in the midst of our current realities.
Praying with and for you in hope and light and love,
The Rev. Dr. Mary Ubuntu is the spiritual leader of Resurrection Lutheran Church and has served in that capacity since 2003. More on Pastor Mary can be found HERE.