I have a few things to share, both of great importance.
1) Since our indoor, in-person worship on Sunday mornings is still suspended out of an abundance of caution and compassion, we’ll keep up our faithful worship on YouTube during the Sundays in December. Thanks for worshipping this way as we walk the Advent journey together. Of note, Pastor Bill will be preaching on the 13th— always good news! Also, on Monday, December 21st we’ll release a Service of the Longest Night, which in some places is called a “Blue Christmas” service to acknowledge that some people struggle in the midst of holiday cheer. Obviously, the church speaks profoundly into such life situations and we felt it was particularly important to offer such a service this year. Finally, on Sunday the 27th we will be sharing a Synod wide service of Lessons and Carols that our Bishop, Bill Gohl is orchestrating for all of our ELCA churches.
But what about Christmas Eve? The short answer is that because of the ever changing COVID 19 situation, final decisions are still pending. It certainly does not appear that it will be wise to gather indoors– so an option that we’re looking at is to hold two outdoor Christmas Eve services in the church circle, around our new Wonderland of Hope. I think we could do this safely. Masks and distance, mixed with a short outdoor service around 25 beautifully decorated trees may be the way some of us celebrate the Christmas miracle this year. As always, I’m well aware (and very supportive) of those who chose to stay home for our virtual Christmas Eve rather than being outside. Please note—this plan is not yet final. Our COVID 19 Task Force has done an outstanding job and I remain so grateful for their wise guidance that will determine the details of Christmas Eve. Once our approach for Christmas Eve is finalized, I’ll send out a special communication so everyone knows.
2) The second important announcement is to relay that our Director of Music Ministry, Tyler Horton will be leaving St. Martin’s at the end of this month. Within this issue of Table Talk, Tyler has included a letter that explains how the Spirit has directed this decision—but having walked the journey of discernment with him recently, I must add that I am happy for the new opportunity that has presented itself in his life. His call to serve as the full time Music Director at a thriving 13,000 member parish that is only 5 minutes from his home (verses 1-1.5 hours each way to/from St. Martin’s) is not only an honor but also rare opportunity.
As with all things right now, COVID 19 will make it very hard for us to properly bid Tyler Godspeed and farewell as he takes leave from us for the new organ bench that awaits him. So we will watch for the right time in the future and until then, I encourage all of you to extend words of thanks and blessings to Tyler as you’re able in the weeks ahead.
As always, my heart remains thankful for all of you! During these Advent days of preparation that will graduate into songs of rejoicing at Christmas, I pray that God adds blessing upon blessing as we press forward in faith together.