December 4, 2020

Dear Prairie Avenue Family,

News of a pending vaccine(s) to effectively treat our scourge of COVID-19 fills us with hope that 2021 will begin the journey to resume the routines of life we once took for granted. As we wait in our lines, prioritizing the vulnerable among us as well as those who have risked their lives in caring for them, we look towards the first glimpses of a day without public health notices and restrictions. There has been a slight decrease in infection numbers, but our health care providers and facilities are experiencing unrelenting stress and strain on supplies and personnel. Please keep our hospitals and their staffs in prayer.

If you can access Prairie Avenue's Facebook or online worship page via computer, phone, or tablet, I expect you to stay home.

If you have no way to access such resources, we will continue to have a private worship service at 9 am Sunday. This will no longer be publicly advertised as a possible choice.

If you hosted out of town (or out of your household) guests during the Thanksgiving holiday, I expect you do not attend in-person worship on November 29 or December 6, allowing for a two week quarantine.

We will go to online only if an attendee tests positive or the 10 person or less restriction is placed by local health or state officials.

Minimize your risks. Stay home. Stay safe. Many of you have made extraordinary efforts to keep others healthy and safe. Thank you for your vigilance and concern.

WORSHIP THIS WEEKEND - Where We Belong-God's Unexpected Address
We continue our journey of preparation and anticipation in this Advent season by encountering a text of forgiveness and reconciliation in the midst of the wilderness. When Isaiah wrote these words, the land of Judah had lost its king (the royal household of David), its religious center (the temple), and seemingly, the favor of God. A wilderness journey often feels like a time and place away from others. It was thought that gods resided in territories much like human beings cluster into communities and group. When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, it was thought that Marduk had defeated Judah's God in heaven as the Babylonians had defeated Judea on the earthly battlefield.

These words of encouragement, forgiveness, and God's action becoming a highway to bring the exiled back to home should remind us that there is no place and no one who can truly separate themselves completely from God's plan or scheme. Whatever God commands will come about. The words and commands of humankind tend to begin and end with life itself.

I share the remarkable story of the Christmas Day Armistice of 1914, when ordinary young soldiers, both German and British, came together to celebrate and recognize the prince of peace. Risking insubordination, even death by firing squad for ignoring orders and commands of politicians and commanding officers, the muddied twenty-somethings hurled not bullets, but rival Christmas carols, shared a friendly game of soccer/football in the midst of no man's land, and revealed a small hope of peace, a garden in the midst of a battlefield.

As we lit the candle of hope on the Advent wreath last week, we will light the candle of hope as well as the candle of peace this week.

Invite a friend to join us online this Saturday at 5 pm worship-online or on Facebook this Sunday at 9 am.

Livestreaming Equipment We are working with Rutherford video to develop our permanent studio installation for broadcast live from the sanctuary. There are some unspent Memorial funds that have been designated for this purpose, and work is anticipated to begin in the next couple of weeks, probably just after the Christmas season.

Thanksgiving Special Offering Thank you for your generous support of the Thanksgiving offering for Disciples-related institutions of higher learning and seminaries. Our current total is just over $100. You can still give to this offering through an online gift here.

Christmas Special Offering The Disciples Special Christmas Offering supports our regional church staff and programming. It provides support for the School of Ministry, an alternative to traditional seminary coursework to provide a certificate of pastoral ministry to serve as Commissioned Ministers. It helps maintain our regional campground at Camp Walter Scott in Effingham. 100% of offering receipts remain in the region. Please consider your generosity for these important ministries.

Longest Night Service We are planning to hold a Facebook Live service on Sunday, December 20 at 7 pm for those who have experienced (or know someone who has experienced) some form of loss during the past year. This will be our first time to host such a memorable service, recognizing both the losses we have felt or experienced and the hope we yet hold on to in the promise of the Christ child. The Advent wreath, usually crowned with three purple, one pink, and one white candle will be arranged with four blue candles and one white candle. Each of the blue candles will represent some aspect of loss, while the white candle represent Christ in the midst of our losses. We hope this new tradition will provide presence and purpose to those who may find it difficult to join in the joy of the festivities of this season.

See you in worship this weekend!
As a church family, we care for and pray for one another.

As a matter of online privacy, we will only disclose public sympathy to a church friend or family member whose passing has also been publicly disclosed.

If you would like prayer, please submit your prayer request online, and Pastor Jason and prayer team members will pray for you.
Prairie Avenue Christian Church | Website