Dear Advent Travelers,
As we move into the final preparations for the Christmas Preeve (when we invite St. Lukers to come to worship on December 23) and Eve (which will be held in BOTH worship venues this year), we also prepare for the beginning of 2018. One of the exciting announcements we have about 2018, is actually the return of something very familiar – or should I say someone! That’s right, after some time settling into retirement, Bill Barnes will be joining us again as our part-time Teaching Pastor beginning January 1. I approached Bill this fall to see if he was ready to get back to his teaching gift and develop some new ministries with us. Bill will be teaching his exegesis on Wednesday nights to prepare us for Sunday worship, and teaching another class during the day. He will also be working with Candler School of Theology to create special distance learning opportunities to coincide with our sermon series. Bill will be working with us to create additional ministry opportunities as well as helping our pastoral team (Pastors Corey, Jad, David, and me) with visitation, worship, and care. I know you are as excited as I am to see him around again.
We hope you have been journeying with us in worship on campus or on Facebook Live. Our journey to Narnia has led us to meet Lucy and Edmund, the two youngest of the Pevensie children, and this week Susan brings us to the table of hospitality and joy. Isaiah 61 shouts “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,…he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted and to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners!” This week we bring good news of great joy that the Savior is on his way. We will have the opportunity in each of the venues this week to celebrate Holy Communion, as we gather around the table in anticipation for grace and joy.
The facts are in for our November end of the month financials, and we are behind by $221,794. Unless we have some help, we project a shortfall for 2017. Now, I am told by Bill that St. Luke’s likes to give the pastors something to worry about in the last quarter, so can I just say – good job! We are actually underspending and our staff have been excellent stewards of expenses, but giving is tracking behind especially after missing a Sunday for the hurricane, and only having three services in the morning of December 24 for the 4th Sunday of Advent. (NOTE MORNING TIME CHANGES: 2 services at 9:00 a.m. only, Continental Brunch at 10:00 a.m. in Building C, and the Children’s Nativity at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 24.)
*Please remember too our Christmas Preeve and Eve service offerings go 100% to missions to help children in our community and state. So if you can consider helping extra with our operating expenses, or if you have not fulfilled your 2017 pledge, please help us finish strong.
Before I finish, can we just give a huge shout out of praise for our talented worship team and arts volunteers! “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was the perfect kick off to the holiday season. Steve MacKinnon and KeLee Parnell worked with third through eight graders all fall to create a beautiful, heartwarming production of the classic Charlie Brown story. Great job on this Youth Theater production!
Last weekend, we were moved by the incredible talent and heart of our traditional music ministries in their concerts “Through a Child’s Eyes.” I have heard comments from so many that have said this felt like one of our best concerts and that it was the best concert in town during this holiday season. Thank you to the choir, dancers, handbell and children’s choirs, the set designers and all who made the story come to life with lights and scenery. You moved us all and prepared our hearts to receive the gift of Christ. Thank you to all of the worship and arts teams who have made this Advent season so special and will be working extra hard to present the gospel story of Jesus in 10 services!!
Grace and Peace to you all. Can’t wait to see you this weekend,