A Christmas Reflection and from your Congregation Council President, Toni Lehman
December 10, 2020
Two years ago, my husband, Dan, and I realized how “dear” this congregation really is. As you may remember, Dan had suffered from the effects of a bicycle accident and a subsequent stroke caused by the blunt force trauma of his landing. In those days we were struggling, wondering what the future would bring, and yet every evening dinner was delivered by someone in our congregation. Dan and I were well loved and cared for. At those dinners we began a ritual of counting our “wins'' for the day. We were always surprised that no matter what setbacks or challenges the day presented, our wins were greater. This practice also helped us reframe our experience to always look for the positives.
In the same spirit, I have been considering the “wins” of HTLC during the pandemic of 2020. Here are a few of many, many examples:
311 people have subscribed to our YouTube channel and hundreds view our live stream weekly both locally and even internationally! Way to go "livestream team", Pastor Will, Pastor Mark and Beth!
We hired a new cantor, Beth Jordan, a week before the pandemic hit! She has found ways to meet with 5 different choirs and has created ways to incorporate those performances in our virtual services to enhance the feel of each service.
A huge shout out to Lars Bishop and Mike Krier for volunteering their time so generously to produce and stream our services.
Lutheran Campus Ministries continued
Lutheran Campus Ministry has continued to meet weekly via Zoom and they have gathered outside in the tent around the fire pit, shared the traditional exam breakfast, and found new ways to stay connected and remain supportive of each other.
Outreach continued - to date we have spent $115,000 for outreach and programs including
$77,000 to the Synod for mission support
$11,000 to the IFC
$9,000 to Habitat for Humanity towards future builds
The quilters continued to independently sew and create beautiful quilts to be sent out in the world.
Faith Formation continued
Holly Shipley, with the help of the Faith Formation Ministry Team, has launched “Godly Play” Sunday School, kept Confirmation kids and youth engaged, and she works to make sure that all groups can meet via Zoom, including adult Bible studies and book discussions.
We are financially stable as a congregation
The Church Council, Craig Ashton, and Tom Alexander have worked conscientiously to monitor our finances, and create policies to help us stay safe when we are able to regather in the future.
These are just some of the examples of generosity of our HTLC and LCM family. We have much to be proud of and thankful for. Thank you for your support of our mission and ministries.
If you need help, please reach out. We can help!
If you are doing well, please help us end the year strong with your gifts and pledges of support. I’d like to end this blog with a story that I find particularly sweet and meaningful. Know that I keep you in my thoughts and prayers. May we all find blessings and peace in the new year.
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There is an old folktale about a man, a rock, and a bowl of soup.
This man was a traveler (or a soldier depending on the version) but he was distant from his home and missing his kin. He was physically tired. Frayed by the discord of his life, he was hungry, but every village he stopped in had nothing to share. The people he encountered were tired, worried, and consumed with their own struggles.
Finally, after stumbling on a rock in the road, this traveler was struck by an idea. At the next village he asked for assistance as before, but this time he asked only for a large pot of water so that he could make some stone soup with his magic rock. Intrigued, the villagers complied quickly and a fire was lit under the large vat of water. The traveler reverently blessed the rock and promised that it would make the most delicious soup.
The townsfolk watched in awe at his confident smile, anticipating the meal ahead. As the traveler chatted with the assembled villagers, he shared that the last time he had made this soup, it had been enhanced by a bit of parsnips, carrots, cabbages, potatoes - things that the townspeople had been able to share. One by one the villagers sent their children, wives, and husbands to see what they might be able to contribute from their own meager stores. Over the afternoon the pot gradually filled with the contributions of the townspeople and by dinner time the aroma rising from the pot did, indeed, smell magical!
We, like the villagers, are tired and frayed. Our own journeys are complicated and challenging. Yet when we see what is important and needful, we jump in to help. Whether it is by sharing our time, or talent, or financial support, we answer the distant call of our Lord and Savior who called us to feed the hungry, care for those in need, and to care for one another.
At the end of the folktale, the traveler leaves the magic rock with the villagers so that they can pull together in the future and remember this moment. Happily, we already know the rock on which we are built. There is no magic to it. There is just a loving God filled with love and grace, shared at Christmas.
We are all physically distant during this time in 2020, but the spiritual presence of each and every member of Holy Trinity pulling together will help us to do God’s work with our hands. What do you have to share?