In this busy time of year we can get caught up in the tasks, the meals, the shopping and shipping, the parties, and planning. Feelings of guilt, loss, anxiety, and dread exist along with our excitement and hopes. The promise of God coming to be with us in Jesus – the promise to Mary for a Son who will be holy is a promise to us that we need not be saviors ourselves. We can be at peace, we can receive the Holy Spirit too, which always does overshadow our plans and actions. This promise reminds us that it’s not about us – but that God is always working in us and in the world. Christ comes to us without our work, worries, or wishes.Christ comes, to free us, to love us, to walk with us.
God is with us as we worship. While the season of Advent has seemed to fly by for me, I have been grateful for the time to enjoy a little more fellowship, beginning with our Thanksgiving & pie worship, thanks to our church council. You have led this year with joy and inspiration and supported the mission of this congregation in another difficult year. We are beginning to see an increase in our average worship attendance almost to 50 in recent weeks. Some of this is a return to in-person worship for our members, but more than that, we have welcomed new faces with us on Sunday mornings, so often they are friends of ours who have been longing for a spiritual home, or a community of faith they can participate in to help others. Our online viewing has been mostly consistent with an average of 75 views each week. It’s interesting that the online views do increase over time, which may mean that folks like to go back and view services they have missed. One person I know has been listening to sermon podcasts, going back to 2019! The Spirit continues to move here at Living Hope!
Our Wednesday evening worship has been wonderful, with new voices singing and providing the message for us as we sing Mary’s song in Holden Evening Prayer. We give thanks for the hot soup as well! Eating together can be such a sacred time, and hearing the laughter of children, providing an evening welcome for friends and guests, and winding down the day is a gift we share. Thank you to Dr. Le for arranging for our vocalists and for her musical expertise.
Christmas Eve will include special musicians as well, as we begin the celebration of the birth of the savior. We will once again have the Satauro Samoan choir, and guest musicians from the community joining us at our 6pm worship, along with candlelight, communion, and story time for the children. This service will be streamed online. The 10pm worship will be more contemplative in tone and a peaceful way to finish the season of Advent. Please do join us in person if you’re able, and invite others if you can.
God is with us in our struggles, too. Many of you know we are currently in need of new A/C units in Edwins Hall, some work on our parking lot, and updated signage at the church. It is our hope to begin a fundraising effort in the new year to cover these expenses and will share more details soon. We know God will always provide for our needs.
Our church family is growing! Join me in giving thanks for the birth of Quinn Windes, daughter of Allison, granddaughter of Tammy and Andy Windes. November 20th, I officiated the marriage for Josh Rael and Faith Frank. We are discussing plans for the baptism of their daughter soon! Also on Nov. 20, we held the funeral for Jerry Shelton, and we continue to keep their family in our prayers.
The Heart of the City Senior Meal Program continues to feed our neighbors every day! Leading the team is Adrienne, with help from meal manager Teu Malivao and dedicated volunteer Arsenia Walker. We celebrated the “retirement” of Stefan Schmitt who will head back into the workforce in the new year. The Rise Homeschool Resource Center will no longer be teaching classes in our building, but will continue to operate as advocates for the homeschooling community in Las Vegas. This means that our upstairs space will be available in 2022. Currently Girl Scouts meet here every other Monday.
We continue to pray for our neighbors in need, and give thanks for our partnerships with Family Promise and Lutheran Social Services of Nevada. We welcomed Anna Eng and Patricia Haddad from Nevadans for the Common Good on Nov. 21st, and will continue to build our core team to help organize and advocate. Thank you to Pr. Paul Hansen for leading us to serve in this way.
Our staff will celebrate Christmas together at lunch next Wednesday, Dec. 22nd. On behalf of all of us, I want to thank our church council for the leadership and support this year, and for all the ways you contribute and care for us here at Living Hope. May you know the hope, peace, joy, and love of God this holiday season. God Bless you all.
Pastor Jason Adams