are we state such a greeting in this darkpandemic winter? Is this a naïve wish? A judgmental, emotion-denying command? Or is it an enduring prayer for God to make it so?
The Hebrew and Greek languages, in which the Old and New Testament were written respectively, each have one word that can be translated as happy or blessed (Psalm 119:1-2 or Matthew 5:3-11). In Greek Lexicons it is translated as enjoying special advantage (Danker) or in the sense of privileged recipient of divine favor (Friberg). May this be what we greet, wish, and pray on each other in this beginning of 2021:
In all of 2021 may you enjoy special advantage because you are a privileged recipient of God’s favor!
This greeting is true, authentic, and can be given because Jesus came. In Jesus the fullness of God has come to earth and is present with us—ALWAYS! This is the meaning of Christmas. This is the source for the hope, peace, joy, and love emphasis in Advent. Life can be overwhelming. We can’t; Jesus can, did, and is with us—ALWAYS!
Note to whom, where, and when Jesus came: He came to a couple too young, not even married yet, totally unprepared, and completely alone. He came to a small, nothing-special, off-the-beaten-path town. He came when the businesses and healthcare system were overwhelmed and during a government-imposed mandate (A decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered … All went to their own towns to be registered. (Luke 2:1, 3)
Finally, note how Jesus came. He came as a baby—small, helpless, vulnerable, and expecting Mary and Joseph’s care and attention.
Christ Mass = Christmas. The same Jesus put into the hands of Mary is put into our hands in Communion. We need to learn in, with, under, and through Jesus to become like Him—empty, small, helpless, vulnerable, and receiving God’s eternal care and attention. And then we need to grow in, with, under, and through this Jesus to trust and call on God as a parent as Jesus did; to love all others as Jesus did; and, as Jesus did, to see and trust God is with us in the most stinky times of life, when we are all alone and only animals surround us.
No matter who you are, where you are, how you feel, and the circumstances of your life—because of Jesus, know, receive, claim, and trust this greeting: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
January marks my one-year anniversary with Trinity, and it has been one crazy year! COVID-19 brought a lot of changes, some bad, but also some great ones. Specifically, when staff are not feeling well or the roads are bad for travel they can telework with our online database! Families can now worship anytime and anywhere with our new camera system in the sanctuary—helping to answer our Council’s question of how to reach people where they are with what they need.
We were forced to get creative with how to reach out to our community—we sent out thank-you baskets to our essential workers, started new groups and task forces, and set up fun Zoom meetings to include Coffee with Pastor Andy and Being Parents with the Behrendts. Many of our congregants volunteered their time making weekly phone calls to our older members to ensure they were doing OK and had someone to chat with. A weekly newsletter was started to keep the Trinity family informed and connected. So many wonderful things have happened because of COVID-19 that have changed the future of Trinity. While we were closed for many months trying to do our part in stopping the spread, I am grateful for all of the work our staff has done and will continue to do as we bring in the new year.
Please take the time to read Trinity’s Annual Report that will be available by Jan. 17. We have fresh ideas to make this year’s report worth reading, and it will give a great review of 2020.
God Bless you as we bring in the new year!
November Financial Report Snapshot
|Ministry Expenses and Gifts||Building Debt Reduction|
|Nov. Begin Ministry Balance: $228,056.54||Mortgage Principal: $1,435,808.76|
|Nov. Gifts: $61,541.50||Debt Reduction Gifts: $7,630.00|
|Nov. Expenses: $65,113.17||Debt Monthly Payment: $9,690.00|
|Nov. Clearing Income: $987.72||Principal Reduction: $4,811.43|
|Nov. Clearing Expenses: $931.00|
|Nov. End Ministry Balance: $224,541.39||Mortgage Principal: $1,430,997.33|
Thank you for the gifts to our ministries in honor of your loved ones. The funds have been designated in loving memory of the following:
“Thank you” just doesn’t seem quite adequate for all the amazing ways the Trinity family has sacrificed, served, and shone God’s light this past year. Your willingness to stay connected with our shut-ins and bring them groceries and meals and your generosity in providing funds and/or items for gift baskets for essential workers, Project Backpack, Foundations for Living, Waupaca Senior Center Christmas Drive, the Share the Light project, and Miracle Tree have truly provided amazing blessings for so many people! You made a difference in our community this year.
Thanks to the decline in local COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, Trinity plans to reopen the sanctuary doors for in-person worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Protective protocols including mandatory masking and distancing will again be in place as they were from July into October. Reservations online or by phone are also a must, as capacity will once again be limited to 100 people. See the back page for the complete Christmas schedule.
The four Christmas Eve services and one Christmas-morning service will be the first in-person worship services held at Trinity in more than two months. Trinity’s Health Committee and Church Council made the decision to resume in-person services so long as new COVID cases in Waupaca County do not increase by 20 percent or more during the week ending Dec. 19. If that doesn’t happen, Trinity will take reservations starting Monday, Dec. 21, at noon.
As was the case this summer, we know in-person worship is not for everyone, and those at elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are encouraged to worship from home. The 3 p.m. Christmas Eve service will be streamed live on Trinity’s YouTube channel and aired 9 a.m. Christmas Day on Lakes 92.7 FM. Video and radio services will also continue on Sundays. For those worshiping from home, candles for the candlelight conclusion of the Christmas Eve service will be available along with communion cups for the Christmas services in the church entryway starting Dec. 21.
It is crucial that those worshiping in person agree to the covenant that is again in place for in-person services; while we thank God for this opportunity, in-person worship will only be safe if all who attend agree to mask and distance. A new walk-through video will be posted on Facebook and YouTube by Dec. 21. Especially at Christmastime, we regret that congregational singing is still unsafe. We know God will be with us wherever we worship this Christmas, as that presence through Jesus is the original and greatest Christmas gift!
Thank you to the parents and students who continue to join us for weekly confirmation classes. Thank you to Hugh and Karen Kress for all the time and love you put into your programs.
As we get closer to in-person class, we will need volunteers to help lead small groups for confirmation and assist with WOW services on Wednesday nights. Please contact me if you have any questions or interest in volunteering.
Our podcast has hit a few snags in scheduling! We will continue to put out new episodes soon. Make sure to visit our page, listen to our first episode, and subscribe to “A Little T.L.C.”: anchor.fm/alittletlc
We have a new website thanks to input from Trinity’s Building Community group. An extra special thank-you goes to Jim Stiebs for designing and launching our new and improved church website! Be sure to visit and take time to explore all the new information and functions. What a blessing to have talented and dedicated members go above and beyond to help us move forward in a time that often feels stagnant.
To those who signed up for our Pen Pal program, make sure to look out for a letter with information and instructions sent to one of the two pals that will be arriving in the mail soon. We pray that this connection brings you joy.
Thank you all for being so loving and accepting of me since moving here earlier this year. Trinity is a very special community. I’m so happy to be part of it.
This has been quite a year. I’m sure I’m not alone in my desire to leave the painful events of 2020 behind and look longingly toward a better day.
Even before the pandemic forced us into lockdown in March, our plans for music at Trinity had already taken a major hit. On Sunday, Feb. 9, we were scheduled to hold the 7th annual Trinity Spectacular Concert. Mother Nature had other ideas. Due to a significant snowstorm, we were forced to cancel the concert for the first time ever. We had such an amazing lineup of music planned. We rescheduled the concert for later in the spring—when snowstorms could not interfere. Once again, plans changed. By the middle of March, virtually all group activities at the church had to be put on hold, including choir rehearsals and even in-person attendance at worship. Uff da!
Now that 2020 is coming to a close, we celebrate the greatest gift ever given, and we look toward a new beginning in January. There is good news: the pandemic will eventually be brought under control—at least to the extent that we can safely resume most of our normal activities here at Trinity. Now that’s something to look forward to!
Someday down the road, our choirs will start rehearsing again, and they will fill our sanctuary with joyous songs of praise! I promise you this: When we can safely plan on it, we’ll finally celebrate the 7th annual Trinity Spectacular Concert. Until we get there, please exercise caution, stay safe, and hold on to your faith. One day, we will all sing Hallelujah together in our Trinity sanctuary.
Wishing you God’s abundant blessings throughout the coming year!
“Hold on to Your Hat—It’s Christmas!” was our first-time virtual Christmas program. I am so grateful to all the families for learning, recording, and uploading their own program music. I’m also grateful to the following:
Christmas Eve — Thursday, Dec. 24:
Christmas Day — Friday, Dec. 25:
Let me just say what a year! Our committees and groups have done some great things during COVID-19. With that said, it would be interesting for committees and groups to include in their annual reports the following: