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It's Christmas: we made it!

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Despite 2020 being a difficult year, we did it, we made it to Christmas!

It wasn't easy getting here. We all have our own stories of how this public health emergency has affected our lives in one way or another.  In many ways, it has forced us to all pause for a moment and really take a look in our lives and what's really important to us.

But, thankfully, we were able to gather for Christmas worship together, but just a little bit differently this year. 

While we were leading worship inside the Sanctuary with cameras rolling for the online feed, we had folks gather in the courtyard to join us in word, song, prayer and lighting candles. 

And whether you watched live at home or in the church campus courtyard, or at another time, we shared in the good news of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, the babe of Bethlehem. 

As a faith community, this time apart has made us miss the things we took for granted, chief among them, being able to gather in worship together. As we continue to "Worship in Exile" during this dark winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, we take comfort in the hope that the light of the Christ child is not contained within the four walls of a building.

The peace of Christ is not limited to those who gather around the word and sacrament inside some building. God's love abounds in, around and through us, no matter where we are, how isolated we may be from others.

Despite all of the challenges we have faced as an aging congregation, we have learned a few things this year:

  • we have learned how to have worship online and make it available to all
  • we have learned how to have outdoor and smaller study gatherings when public health rules and weather permit
  • we have learned again that church is not a building, it's the people
  • we have found ways to keep serving the needs of those in our community
  • we have learned we need to begin a new outreach to youth, young adults and families 
  • we need more willing and able volunteers to help with our ministries, not only to serve on committees, but to do the work God is calling us to do
  • we need to prayerfully consider our giving and our legacy, and how we can help build for the future of our congregation and our community

We know our challenges as a congregation, community, and the world are not over. Much needs to be done on the public health standpoint, but also, our communities are in need of the grace of God now more than ever. They need a message of hope, joy, love and peace. They need the good news of Jesus Christ, and we have been blessed and tasked to share light of Christ with all those around us. 

May you find ways, using the talents God has given you, to share the good news of Jesus.

Merry Christmas.

Christmas sermons to share online:

Dec 24 Christmas Eve - Pastor Jon

Dec 25 Christmas Day - Eddie McCoven

Dec 27 First Sunday of Christmas - Bishop Taylor

More work, fewer workers

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Clairemont Lutheran Church / Iglesia Luterana Clairemont is a congregation which faces a few challenges. And those challenges are not unlike similar congregations across the nation: a predominantly elderly population which keeps dwindling, and volunteers are short in supply.

This was definitely something our faith community faced before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now we are really struggling in terms of volunteers. While our church staff, myself included, have taken on more duties, there have been a number of dedicated people who have answered the call. To those who stepped up over the past few months to help out, thank you for being there and thank you for wanting to contribute to the life of our faith community. But with all the new rules and regulations from the state, it’s not enough; we need more volunteers to make the basic operations of our ministries happen.

It takes a lot of work to put on in-person (when public health orders allow it) and online worship. Emails are sent to out to keep everyone up to date and to provide links to the digital copy of the bulletin and the live stream videos (which are on our website). Slides have to be created so people can sing or read along without having to print the bulletin. We had to stop doing this for the Spanish worship because it just became too much work. Those slides are then uploaded to the streaming computer, and then brought up during the live worship using the software. Cameras have to be set up and taken down after use. Mics need to be tested, levels need to be adjusted (all the time, not just once). Mics, stands and other surfaces are sanitized after use.

And before I leave the sanctuary, I turn on the ultra-violet light lantern to further kill any other viruses or bacteria in the air. I’ve also taken this lantern and used it to further disinfect other rooms after use because, quite frankly, who else will? But after about seven hours, I get to leave the church campus for the day, but I’m usually back a few more hours during the week, some of which I do voluntarily because I care about what happens in our faith community.

Due to our lack of activity on the church campus, we’ve seen an increase in transients camping out, cooking, dirtying up our campus and leaving behind evidence of  some of their illicit activities. I personally took it upon myself to walk the campus regularly at night and be the person to ask these people to move along. Angela, Lewis John TenHulzen and myself have also been the people to pick up their bottles, trash, discarded clothing and other items after they leave.

When we are able to have in-person worship again, will we go back to two worship gatherings in English? As of late we don’t have the attendance and we don’t have enough volunteers at this time to do all of the cleaning, let alone a/v tech, readers, ushers, etc.

When we get through this pandemic and the life of our faith community returns to something close to normal, please consider how  can you do to help. If you can’t do something physically, maybe you can contribute financially so we can hire another staff member. Or perhaps you can help with evangelism so we can get more people in the church, especially those who are able and willing to volunteer; the future of our faith community depends on it.

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