Thanksgiving

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31(NIV)

As I sit here pondering what to write on this beautiful November afternoon, it seems more like Spring than late Fall. The sun is shining and it’s almost 40 degrees. Tomorrow it may hit 50 degrees.

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day and Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. In less than 5 weeks, it will be Christmas and the week after it will be 2022. I think, as we prepare for the new year, we should all take to heart the words of the Prophet Isaiah at the beginning of my letter.

The last 21 months because of the COVID pandemic are almost a blur to me. I wish I had kept better notes of when we worshiped together at church and when we all were on Facebook Live. When I was reminded that we barely decorated for the 2020 Christmas season at LeValley and didn’t have church family members light the Advent candles at either church, it made me sad. But, as you all know, my cup is always half-full, so there was one positive result of virtual worship in 2020. My family was able to travel to Florida, rent a house, and celebrate Christmas all together in the warm weather. We swam in the pool, went to the beach, played games, and ate good food. We were able to experience all of that and Greg and I were still able to worship on-line and celebrate Christmas with all of you, our body of Christ families.

There have been, and continue to be, other circumstances that fill my cup. Worship attendance is working its way up to pre-pandemic numbers. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been unable to or chose not to attend worship in person, are now able to be with us via Facebook Live. Laurie Crosby’s son, Bruce, even joins us at Berlin Center from Belgium. Special music has resumed. In October, Faithful Journey blessed as at both churches. Last Sunday, the Belding Congregational Church Bell Choir visited LeValley in the afternoon and shared their gifts and talents. In December, Fred Lyons and Christmas Cornucopia will be at both churches playing their horns during worship. In early December, we will celebrate the sacrament of baptism of an adult who will give her affirmation of faith, receive new birth through water and the Spirit, and, officially, become part of the body of Christ at LeValley. There is also the baptism of a child pending.

I know I am rambling, but as we celebrate Hope this Sunday, it is a good reminder that as we have hope in Jesus Christ, we also have hope for the future through our faith and trust in God. We have been able to resume some of our fellowship gatherings at both Berlin Center and LeValley. We are even having a cookie walk at LeValley again this year on Saturday, December 4th!!

I know there has been another spike in COVID cases in recent weeks, but my prayer is that this surge will pass, just as the others have since January, 2020, and that our lives in 2022 will return to the way they were before this dreadful virus.

 May you and your families experience the expectant waiting and preparation for both Christmas and the return of Christ this season. May you, amid the hustle and bustle of it all, be able to focus and reflect on the true reason for the season. I pray that you will also look to the scriptures for peace and understanding. In closing, I would like to share a few with you.

The Lord is my light and my salvation---whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

There are so many more, but I hope just these few provide peace for your hearts, minds and souls and allow you to celebrate Christmas and move into the new year without fear, but faith in our Lord.

Greg and I will be with most of you, but for those that we won’t see, we wish you a blessed Advent Season and Christmas.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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