It’s hard to believe we are halfway through the Advent Season. This past weekend was absolutely amazing due to all of the hard work of our amazing choir, children choir, dancers, tech team, and all who helped usher and work with our actors. What a glorious gift our concerts were not only to King Jesus but to our congregation and community. One woman from Minnesota happened to attend a concert a few years back while visiting Orlando and made sure to come back for our concert this year. What a gift it was for so many.
In worship, we are continuing to walk through the overarching story of scripture to see how God used ordinary, but extraordinarily faithful women to help deliver a story of love, joy, hope, and peace that led to the moment of Incarnation, Christ among us.
We have received God’s story of love delivered through Eve, God’s story of joy delivered through Sarah, and hopefully, you have already listened to the podcast as God’s story of Hope is delivered through two midwives in Exodus 1. The Exodus story is one of liberation often attributed to God at work through Moses, but without these 2 midwives, Shiphrah and Puah taking their stand for the ethics of God against Pharoah, the story of God’s love and joy through the people of Israel would have come to an abrupt halt under the oppression of the new Egyptian King.
When members join in partnership at St. Luke’s, they join with Methodists all across the globe who covenant with God to Resist evil, oppression, and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves. We talk about this as a very Wesleyan baptism covenant and yet this commitment began in this first chapter of Exodus with these two brave women. They were the first to resist and in doing so brought forth life.
We are facing a time where the odds are stacked against children in our communities. In Orange County, the percentage of children on free or reduced lunch is at an all-time high with more than half of OCPS qualifying as Title 1 schools in our district meaning their families live at or below the unadjusted poverty level of 50% or more. In our own Educational IMPACT partner schools – Maxey and Mollie Ray Elementary – an average of 80% of the students and their families struggle to make ends meet. The number of OCPS children in unstable housing is today is 3200 and growing each month, and the rental prices of apartments and homes are on the rise in our community. Where is their hope? It’s in the people of St. Luke’s standing on the shoulders of Shiphrah and Puah who refuse to let children die on their watch. We have the opportunity this advent to give a celebration offering above and beyond our monthly percentage tithe. You can choose for your special offering to go to a Restoring Hope ministry serving children in our community, or toward our Children’s Spiritual formation ministry on campus.
Through Giving Tuesday we raised $10,000 for Children through Restoring Hope ministries. At our Christmas Concerts, we raised an additional $4200 through the offering.
We will be collecting our Advent Offering through worship and on Christmas Eve so pray how you will deliver God’s story of Hope to our community children spiritually, emotionally, and physically this holiday season, in the name of the One who came as a child.
Speaking of Christmas Eve – it’s time to mark your calendars for one of our Christmas Preeve or Eve worship services. We encourage you to consider coming on December 23rd to make room for guests who may attend. We are trying multiple ways to invite our neighbors and consider taking one of our invitations from worship to give to someone you know, inviting them to come take their place in the Greatest Love story the world has ever known.
Can’t wait to be with you in worship this Sunday where we will encounter these brave, powerful Midwives both then, and today.
Grace and Peace,
+++CDC still recommends masks indoors and St. Luke’s strongly recommends masks indoors during large worship times, especially for those unvaccinated.