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Give Grace, Receive Grace

As the holidays fast approach, the usual feeling of lightness that accompanies is strangely absent for me. This is true despite having peaceably come through a hotly contested election cycle and the hopeful announcement that a 90% effective vaccine is on the horizon. 

Most of us have now had the experience that COVID-19 is close at hand. It’s in our friend-, family-, and work-circles, and many of us have already dealt with the consequences of a positive diagnosis. There is a collective weariness that can be hard to climb over. 

I keep asking myself, “What can we do to be the ‘light of the world’ in the midst of this dismal age?" My answer is quite simple:  We’ll continue to serve and we’ll continue to worship the God who loves us. 

We’ll continue to faithfully worship each Resurrection Day as the church has done for 2,000 years. We have had exactly zero cases of known transmission at Elmhurst CRC, even while we’ve reopened virtually all of our ministries and enjoyed both outdoor and now indoor corporate worship which began all the way back in early July. Even as local rates of positivity have risen, our commitment to common sense practices (advanced registration, temperature taking, mask wearing, social distancing, diligent cleaning) has allowed us to continue meeting together effectively. 

As the weather inevitably turns colder, the vast majority of our worship experiences will move indoors for the winter. Here are a few ways to raise our joy and maintain our good track record: 

  • Advanced Registration in Groups: If you can register for Sunday worship in a group of three or more (family or close friends who are part of your “pod”), this greatly helps us to allow for both maximum numerical participation and maximum social distancing. 
  • Singing Masks will become part of our worship experience in December. Our hearts and voices are closely connected and restrictions on indoor singing can be discouraging for those who love to sing. Elmhurst CRC will have a limited number of masks designed to make the act of masked singing significantly more fun and less transmissible. You can get ahead of the curve and order one for yourself HERE or a version here on Etsy.  
  • Give Grace, Receive Grace: Life is better when we go flexibly and gently with one another and also with ourselves. The foundation of our spiritual lives is built on the truth that we DON’T get what we deserve. We’re broken and sinful, but God loves us anyhow.  Quite possibly, the irritable person ahead of you at the Jewel is fighting a major battle.It’s likely that the person behind the mask is unbearably lonely. It’s probable that your loved ones are working harder than ever before while being recognized and rewarded less. This is where we’re at. We need so much grace! 

Grace is a two-way street. Our capacity to give and receive it go hand in hand. It’s no accident that an annual outpouring of gifts and offerings are made around Elmhurst CRC coinciding with  the celebration of God’s great gift to us in Jesus. We have Thanksgiving Offerings. We have “Glimmers of Hope” trees to support causes near and far. We make year-end gifts to the church itself. But it’s not just about the giving. It’s also about stretching our ability to receive the grace our hearts long to receive. 

My prayer for our community this year is that all this giving will not be obligatory and perfunctory, but rather a powerful spiritual act that opens us to receive the more amazing grace that only God can give. May this be truly yours this holiday season, 

Pastor Gregg