I confess to having many sleepless nights leading up to Easter morn. The “what if” detail questions kept bubbling to the surface. What if this…what if that? Then there were the “will the” questions. Will the set up go smoothly? Will people actually show up willing to sit outside in the sun? Will the visitors find a welcome place to gather? The answers were clearly: Yes! Yes! And Yes! It was a wonderful day to be on the church grounds.
Because we are a resurrection people, quarantine didn’t break our church, but it taught us (again) to lose our fear and go up on the roof and out into the streets with our ministry and mission.
It taught us…Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!
My favorite quote is, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” ―Victor Hugo, Les Misérables. I mentioned this fact at our annual meeting last week. My prayer this year in 2021 is for us to see the face of God in neighbor, children, and creation.
This coming year we’ll be doing some significant ministry. Among that list, here’s part of what’s going to happen in 2021:
A return to in-person worship: It’s not going to be the same; it’s going to feel different. I’m not Nostradamus, but I know it’s not going to happen until at least Easter, and for it to happen, we need to love each other more than our own personal wants and needs. Be patient, as we want it to be safe for all. To love others and see the face of God, we’re going to need to be patient.
Expansion of our Social Justice Ministry including our Feet-n-More Shower Trailer ministry: That will require our loving others. We need volunteers. Here’s an opportunity to donate time. If you volunteer for this, I-Help, or any other helping ministry, you will see the face of God.
Improved security: We need to protect the people who come to our buildings – staff, members, and community. Soon, we will have cameras and the face of God will be seen as people enter.
Being affirmed as a WISE congregation: A Welcoming, Including, Supporting, and Engaging congregation. As difficult as that paperwork was, that was the easy part. Now we have to do it. That process is an evolving process. It’s not stagnant. It’s a living breathing covenant where the face of God will be seen.
Hearing the phrase “Creation Justice” a lot in 2021: Part of our Three Great Loves is our love of creation. And let me announce that we’ve received a significant challenge gift towards this endeavor. An anonymous donor has given $50,000 to The Palms for Creation Justice, for reducing our carbon footprint, which will be dedicated towards solar panels. A challenge gift means it is up to us – the rest of us – to match it. Think of it this way, you donate a dollar, it is matched. You donate $1,000, it is matched. It’s probably going to take around $100,000 to do this project. Why do this? Because it is the right thing to do. And if any group needs to be the model, needs to do the right thing and lead by example it is the church. A side benefit is the money that it can save off of our electric bill. But that’s not the impetus; Loving neighbor, children, and creation is the driving force behind it.
Finally, MLK, Jr., talks about a staircase and that faith is taking that step even when we can’t see the top of the stairs. 2021 stands before us as a staircase. We can see some marvelous things. Let me be so bold as to say, there are even greater things that God is holding out for us than what we can see.
Amanda Gorman would tell us:
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Worship Words of Wisdom: Adjusting our sails, pressing onward, we are exploring new ways to proclaim the love of God.
What we are doing:
On Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. we’ll be video-recording a worship service in the sanctuary to be broadcast on our website on Sunday morning. This will have most of the elements of our typical worship services including scripture, sermon, hymns, and prayers.
On Sunday mornings the sanctuary will be open from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. for personal prayer time, lighting a candle, prayers with a pastor, and quiet meditation. No program will be offered. Please keep the recommended social distance.
Our office remains open during the normal hours: Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. We are asking that if you need to come by the office that you knock on the office door. Please do not come into the office; remain in the hallway. We will come to you. Let Pastor Jim or I know of your pastoral needs. Call us on the telephone or email us.
Pastor Jim and I will be sharing daily devotionals with you. These will be brief audio statements, again, accessible online. Check here on our website and/or our Facebook page frequently for the posts.
Please continue to worship – just adjust your sails. You can join us by doing the following:
Pray for your church and your pastors each day.
Observe the sabbath; find a specific time and set it aside for prayer and meditation.
Continue to support your church financially by having your financial institution send your automatic giving. Or, simply mail a check to us.
During this protective postponement pause to our regular schedule, pray for personal and collective wisdom, strength, and courage. Thanks for being The Palms.
Experience Christmas Eve in word and music as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas Eve Candlelight Service features carols, communion, readings, and the music of our choir and handbells.
All are welcome; no exceptions. Bring family, friends, and neighbors.