God is (Still) With Us

Post date: Dec 18, 2020 3:37:20 PM

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Blessings of Advent hope, peace, joy, and love to you!

I was reading over the Christmas letter I sent to you last year and thought, what a different world that was! We had just begun to hear about COVID-19, but really, it didn’t seem to occur to us that what was so far away would be hovering ever present in just three months. What a difficult year this has been — full of challenges, grief, and uncertainty.

And yet. 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined . . . For a child has been born for us, a son given to us . . . (Isaiah 9.2, 6) A child — born of humble origins in a dusty stable — is God’s gift to the world. God took the despair, struggle, and grief of God’s people, held it in love, and wrapped it up in flesh to be called Immanuel — God with us. With the birth of Jesus, despair turned into hope; struggle became peace; and grief gave way to joy. God is doing the same thing with us today in this season of Advent.

I look forward to celebrating with you that God is with us on this Fourth Sunday of Advent when we will gather online at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM via Zoom or on our YouTube channel. Yet again, Judy has prepared some beautiful music for our worship. Linda Schueler is our featured soloist and she will be singing several Advent and Christmas selections, accompanied by Brian Kolins, percussion. The Hertzog Family will light the Advent candle of Love from their home, and I encourage you to light your candle along with them. We will continue our Advent sermon series Longing for More written by Lisa Vanderkamp. I will be preaching from Isaiah 40.12-26 and Romans 4.16-24 and my sermon title is We Waver — God, Help Us Trust.  And at 2 PM, Santa and his elves are visiting MRC and giving out goodies to the children! Please come gather around the church family Christmas Tree for a time of wonder and joy. 

Please know that for Christmas Eve we have two opportunities for worship that evening. First, weather permitting, at 5 PM we will have a Candlelight worship around the church family Christmas Tree. There we will listen to our handbell choir ring, the children sing, read Scripture, light the Christ candle, and sing “Silent Night, Holy Night.” We will provide you with Luminara candles for our “Silent Night” time. Please bring a chair if you find it difficult to stand, and wear a mask. We will observe social distancing.

Then second we will have a traditional Christmas Eve Worship via Zoom and livestream via YouTube at 7 PM. Juliet Gallagher, Sarah Hanvey, and Izaak Thorpe are our featured musical artists. Please sign on at 6:45 PM to gather to chat, and have your Christ Candle available to light. 

In celebration of the gift that God is with us, the Consistory and I invite you to please consider giving a tax-deductible Christmas offering for the ministries of MRC. As I’ve said many times before, you are the hands and feet of God’s love in our community. Let me add that you have been very generous this year in giving to the General Fund, the Deacons’ Fund, the Community Outreach Group, and our 24 for 24 Capital Campaign. We are so grateful, and humbly ask for your continued generosity this Christmas and into the New Year.

God is with us. God is still with us. It’s that simple, and yet, so very profound. I’m wishing you abundant blessings for a happy, safe, and hope-filled Christmas.

In gratitude for the privilege of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish