Happy New Year! Once again as we turn our calendars and start a new year we hope and pray that 2022 may open a new chapter in our world and in our lives. May this pandemic soon be in the rearview mirror. May strife, violence, and hate fall to our better selves. May we gain a new and greater sense of gratitude for all the blessings around us.
As I ponder these things I find myself often using the phrase “people of faith” with the implication that “people of faith” encounter and respond to life differently than those who are not so. But then I remember that there are two different ways that this description can be interpreted. “People of faith” can simply mean those people, of whatever sect, who have a faith in God. It implies that there is a Supreme Being, a deity. It means that the world is not random and that there is meaning to it all. Certainly, this worldview should impact how a “person of faith” understands and reacts to daily life.
But the term can also have another meaning. “People of faith” can also mean more than simply a religious belief, a worldview. It can also be descriptive, meaning people whose lives are shaped and molded by faith. For such people, faith is the center of their lives and being. It determines who we are and what we will do in every situation. Our relationship with God is the foundation of all our other relationships.
As we start a new year so full of new opportunities and new challenges, which interpretation best describes you? Have a happy and blessed new year!
P.S. I also want you to know that Church leadership have heard the desire of many of you for a return to an early (8:00 AM) service. We are currently considering the programmatic and logistical aspects of that. Also, no permanent decision has been made regarding the venue of the 9:00 AM service. Stay tuned, 2022 promises to be full of opportunities!
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”
If I am right you are receiving this edition of the Window either at the very end of November or the beginning of December. The “holiday season” is upon us again. This one will be a little different: COVID restrictions (but much improved over last year!), supply chain problems that complicate everything, inflation, possible travel problems.
What will your December look like? Even in the midst of traditions we cherish it could very easily be full of stress, demands, busyness and obligations of cultural norms. (Have you ever experienced the feeling of relief when the holidays are over?) But in this spiritual wilderness there is a voice crying, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” That is to say that there is another way.
Take a deep breath. Slow down, and commit yourself to a holy and intentional Advent.
Here are some simple tips:
Use our Advent Devotion daily. Nothing could be easier. Couple it with a prayer. Those few moments can make a huge difference in your day.
Look for signs of God every day. It may be in the beauty of creation. It may be in the face or voice of a loving person. It may be in a situation. It might come from reading your Bible. To see God, you have to be open and looking for God.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1
Say “November” and most of the time our minds will think of Thanksgiving, and rightly so. The season is indeed changing. Fields and crops are being harvested. Pumpkin-flavored everything is pervasive. This is indeed the season of giving thanks and we have much for which we should be thankful. Perhaps you will gather with family or friends this year for Thanksgiving. Perhaps it will be for the first time in a while. I keep hearing stories of grandparents reuniting with grandchildren they haven’t been with for too long. We can be thankful that it appears that vaccines will soon be available for little ones. We can be thankful that we have survived, though some 700,000 Americans have not. We can be thankful for the saints whose lives have inspired us (and whose faithfulness we celebrate on November 7, All Saints Sunday.) We can be thankful that we are not alone; God has given us to each other. Best of all, we can give thanks that God is with us! Indeed, we have reason to be thankful. It is good to give thanks to the Lord.
This year our celebrations of giving thanks will be framed by, if I may use this term, risk management. So many of us will be making plans with questions and conversations that either are happening, have happened, or will happen: Is this safe? What is the risk? Is it worth the risk? Is there any way we can reduce the risk? We all have to answer such questions for our own families. But “risk management” is also the way I would describe the strategy of our Healthy Church Team. We want to relax COVID-19 restrictions as soon as possible. But we also want to do so responsibly, protecting the most vulnerable in our church and community. There is still a question of whether COVID-19 infection rates will continue to decline or whether we are about to experience another holiday surge such as last year. In the accompanying article, the Healthy Church Team announces first (baby) steps that we hope will be followed by further, larger steps when the answer to that question becomes clear. Risk management is important, but it has never been easy. Nevertheless, let us be strong, hopeful and let us remember to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the name of the Most High. This is a time for giving thanks! Blessings, Larry
There’s so much going on in our world. Pastor Larry offered the following prayer via social media on Monday.
O Lord, you have been our God in all our generations. Before the mountains were brought forth or Earth received her frame, you were God. Hear our cries and our prayers for our hurting world:
Lord, so many in Louisiana, the Gulf Coast, and the Southeast have had their lives torn to shatters by Hurricane Ida. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Lord, the people of Afghanistan are suffering and oppressed. Thirteen families are grieving the loss of their young heroes. So many more of our service people are still in danger. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Lord, the people in southwest Haiti are struggling and suffering in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Lord, the pandemic again grows worse here and around the world. Our very children are increasingly at risk. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Lord, in good times and bad, you are our strength and shield. Hear our prayer and empower us to be instruments of your peace. God of our mothers and fathers, God of our children to all our generations, our trust as always is in you. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.
Trinity Family, I’m sharing this pastor’s corner on behalf of pastor Larry. I would think that many of you heard about Larry’s accident that happened a week ago at his son’s house. He fell, broke his two ribs, and fractured his ankle and wrist and the orbital socket of his left eye. I visited him last week. Even though he looks terrible with black bruises on his face, he is in good spirits and on the right track with healing.
We are thankful that this accident is not life-threatening and we all agree that life is fragile, and you never know. Larry appreciates all of your prayers and cards. He thanks the stitchers for the beautiful prayer quilt that they shared with him. He does feel our strong support and love. He also wants to say, “Thank you!”
Please continue to pray for him for healing and Amy as she takes care of him. No visits or phone calls would be helpful at this time. Cards, emails, and prayers are much appreciated as a way to lift him up. Please refer to Trinity staff and me for any questions related to the life of the church.
We’ll do our best to communicate with you in terms of our ministries and missions. Trinity has been blessed to relaunch its ministries outdoors and indoors since June 6. We will continue to adopt a Summer schedule for Sunday mornings (9:00 AM Outdoor Worship, 10:00 AM Discipleship Hour, 11:00 AM Indoor Worship). We will keep our current protocols for indoors and outdoors with the guiding principles: Do no harm. Do Good. Stay in love with the Lord.
We have exciting news about student ministry. Jenna Bush will join our church family as the Director of Student Ministries this summer. She has been serving in youth ministry for 14 years and is a graduate of Eastern University with a degree in Youth Ministry and Biblical Studies. She is married and has two young children, ages 3 and 1. We’ll have an official time to welcome her and her family this summer. Please pray for her and her family in this time of transition.
We have come a long way through God’s grace, navigating new ways to participate in God’s redemptive works for the community and people. We give thanks to God for all that God has done for us and will continue to strive to be a vibrant church that would reflect the kingdom of God. That’s why we need to be together to support and encourage each other. People need to feel God’s welcome, experience God’s love, and find life meanings beyond life fragility. I believe that a community of faith can do that through lifting up songs and prayers and reminding each other of faith that tells us about who God is as our creator, redeemer, and sustainer and who we are as God’s children. Let us continue to have faith and trust in the Lord.
Trinity staff is always open for dialogues that would help us grow in God’s love and discern God’s vision for our ministries and mission. We’ll offer opportunities for us to share our hopes and dreams this summer. We thank God for you.
Finally! Trinity is fully re-opening! Throughout this pandemic, we have been guided by our faith. As the people of Jesus Christ, our commitment has been to love our neighbor by protecting our congregation and the community by limiting spread of COVID-19. We have followed the guidance of the CDC and the Office of the Governor on these matters. This continues to be our guide. The Conference has relaxed restrictions and empowered each church to make appropriate decisions as long as we abide by the Governor’s Executive Order 79, effective May 28, 2021. Our Trinity plan has been reviewed and approved by Dr. Hyo Lee, our District Superintendent. (He also asked if he could share our plan with other churches as a template.)
Here is the information you need to know:
Changes beginning on June 6:
We will adopt a Summer Schedule for Sunday mornings starting Sunday, June 6
9:00 AM Outdoor Worship (How long this service remains outdoors remains to be determined)
10:00 AM Discipleship Hour (Sunday school for all ages, indoor and outdoor)
11:00 AM Indoor Worship
Outdoors: All restrictions have ended. You longer need to register for the service. You may sit where you wish. Masks are not required for anyone outdoors.
Indoors: You may sit where you wish in the sanctuary (except the balcony, see below). Singing without masks is allowed.
For fully vaccinated persons: Restrictions are lifted. Masks are not needed.
For people not fully vaccinated: We respectfully request that you wear a mask indoors. This is on an “honor system” with no registration or monitoring involved.
For those who may be uncomfortable with these changes:
Livestream worship will continue at 11:00 AM
The Outdoor service is a wonderful alternative.
The sanctuary balcony will be limited to those (vaccinated or unvaccinated) who agree to remain masked, who prefer to sit only among others who are masked and agree to reasonable (3ft. is the CDC standard) social distancing. Anyone may simply go and sit in the balcony at will, but these restrictions need to be observed.
Small Groups maymeet throughout the week. Groups will self-monitor as they see fit.
Students 12 years and older are regarded the same as other adults.
Kids 5-11 years, should be masked indoors. Masks are not needed outdoors.
Weekday Preschool resumes in the Fall (normal schedule, Preschool has operated throughout pandemic and will continue to do so under VDH guidelines.)
We are well on our way to a new normal. Our schedule may change due to weather or needs. We pray that the virus will continue to recede and that we put this behind us. If there is a resurgence or the rise of more disturbing variants, we will adapt. We are, as we have always been, in God’s hands. Let us move forward in unshakable faith.
Trinity’s PRG – Post-Covid Re-Entry Team – (formally called the Healthy Church Team)
Alice Hirata, M.D. Corey Booker, Church Council Chair Jim Crowder, Trustees Mike McCullough, J.D. Bill Pike Hung Su Lim Larry Lenow