Advent 2020: The Light (Still) Shines in the Darkness

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

 

To say that 2020 has been a unique and challenging year is an understatement. We’ve had to think creatively and adaptively about how to go about our lives, our schooling, and our work. We’ve also had to think creatively and adaptively about how to go about Jesus’ Kingdom ministry in and through Clairmont Presbyterian Church, particularly during seasons such as Advent. Our staff, officers, and ministry teams have done amazing “outside-the-box” thinking to help us celebrate Christ’s coming, and I am excited to share those plans with you.

 

WORSHIP: Beginning Sunday, November 29, and continuing for the four Sundays of Advent (November 29, December 6, 13, 20) we will worship together via a pre-recorded video. Our reason for

pre-recording worship is twofold:

  • We can involve more people. Due to CDC guidelines for in-person gatherings which limit how many people can be in one space, we can involve more people in leading worship if we pre-record smaller groups. Through pre-recording, we will have the privilege of having members light the candles on the Advent wreath and lead us in the call to worship from their homes, having our Children’s and Family Ministry volunteers offer a children’s message, having our youth provide Scripture readings, and more.

  • We can do more musically. Again, due to CDC guidelines for in-person gatherings, we can involve more people in our music ministry if we pre-record smaller groups. Through pre-recording, we will have the joy of hearing from our strings ensemble, handbell choir, band, and more.

What does this mean? There will still be a “live” portion to worship. At 10:30 am, we will have a Facebook Live time of welcome, announcements, and prayers of the people. This time will allow us to greet one another and share prayer concerns and praises in the Facebook comments. Then at 10:40 am our worship video will be posted on Facebook. This post will allow us to continue to have a “worship hour” together virtually and interact in the comments. The video will be available on our website at that same time for those who prefer to watch via that medium. Note: For these four weeks of worship, we will not have outdoor in-person worship on the Azalea Village Lawn. We will only have our video worship on Facebook at 10:30/10:40. With the weather getting colder, we as a staff and Session are prayerfully discerning plans for outdoor worship after Advent. Thank you for your prayers.

Christmas Eve: We are exploring various options for outdoor in-person worship and prerecorded worship for Christmas Eve. We look forward to sharing those plans in early December – stay tuned!

 

CHILDREN AND FAMILY MINISTRY (CFM): In addition to our weekly children’s message during worship, check out these two opportunities:

  • Advent Gift Bags: The weekend after Thanksgiving (November 27-29) our CFM Team will be delivering goodie bags to the children in our congregation, as well as to the children in our Azalea Village and LaAmistad missions. Each kit will contain an Advent devotional, Advent calendar, two crafts per child, hot chocolate packets, holiday facemask, and cake mix/frosting/sprinkles/candles (for your own “Happy Birthday, Jesus” party!) We normally would distribute gifts like this during our “Advent-ure” event. While we can’t have a large-group event, we still want to help our children celebrate Jesus’ birth. As one team member said, “We can’t have you come to a party, so we’ll bring the party to you!”

  • Children’s Bedtime Christmas Story: From 7:00-7:30 pm on Monday nights (November 30-December 21), we will have virtual story time. These gatherings will take place over Zoom so our children can see and wave to each other. Pastor Nicole or a CFM team member will read an Advent/Christmas-themed story and have a prayer time for children and their families. We hope you will mark your calendars and join us each Monday. CONNECT TO ZOOM

 

STUDENT MINISTRY: Clairmont Student Ministry continues to be very active during the pandemic. Below are just some of their many Advent plans:

  • Youth Group Now Meeting on Sundays: With the time change, youth group has moved to Sundays from 1:00-2:30 pm on Azalea Village Lawn. All students are invited to an afternoon of food, games, and a conversation about our relationship with God.

  • Worship Previews: Beginning the week of Nov. 23, you’ll receive an email on Friday with a link to a video of our youth highlighting that week’s Advent candle theme (hope, peace, joy, love.) They’ll share their reflections on what that week’s theme means to them, how they try to live out that theme, etc. Many thanks to our youth for this great way of helping us prepare for worship!

  • Poinsettia Mission: On December 6, our Deacons and youth will be delivering poinsettias to our homebound members and Azalea Village Ministry residents. We pray these flowers will be a beautiful reminder to our friends of God’s love and presence.

 

ADULTS: We’ve got something special planned for you as well!

  • Monday Lunchtime Prayer: Start your work week in prayer with your Clairmont brothers and sisters. Beginning November 30, each Monday we will gather from 12:00-12:30 pm via Zoom to check in and pray together. (Children and youth are invited as well, as their school schedule permits!) CONNECT TO ZOOM

  • Thursday Night Bible Study: Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). What do these names mean? During our “Names of the Messiah” Thursday Night Bible study, we’ll take an in-depth look at each of these titles to help us grow in our understanding of who Jesus is. Study starts Thursday, December 3, at 7:30 pm. CONNECT TO ZOOM

  • Advent Reflections: One of our traditions is to share favorite Christmas memories with one another. This year we encourage you to share new and creative ways you are celebrating Advent and Christmas during the pandemic – that through your creative ideas, God might inspire in all of us new ideas. Please submit these memories and new ideas to Linda Massey (linda@clairmontpres.org) by Monday, November 30, at noon. Reflections will be emailed on Mondays and Fridays at 6:00am.

 

Scripture tells us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). Join us this Advent as we celebrate that Christ has come, Christ is here, and Christ will come again! O come, o come, Emmanuel!

 

In Christ,

 

Nicole Lock

Interim Senior Pastor