Weekly Greeting: “Plans have changed…” Dec 18

Good Morning Parish,
“Plans have changed,” Joseph told Mary, “we’ll have to go to Bethlehem to register for the census. Hopefully, we can get back to Nazareth before the baby comes…”

Well, we know how that turned out. The Advent road to Christmas is not always predictable, but God is with us in the journey. And so it is today. I need to announce that our plans have changed, but God is with us on the road.

Due to the risk of infection here in Androscoggin County (and in light of an outbreak in one of the Penobscot County Methodist churches which followed CDC protocols with integrity), the Staff-Parish Relations Committee and I decided that after this Sunday (12/20), we need to suspend ‘in person’ worship services once again, at least through January 2021.

This Sunday, 12/20, we will gather for in person worship at both 8:15 & 10 am, with Facebook/Website/You Tube livestream as previously announced. BUT on Christmas Eve, the family-oriented 5 pm service will be online only (NOT in person), with the previously announced zoom Lessons & Carols service at 9 pm. This Sunday’s service will focus on “God doing the impossible,” through Mary, Mother of Jesus, and through us. I have attached the Worship Guide, copy of last week’s message and update on Missions Opportunities to this email. The Advent devotional zoom meeting will take place at 2 pm on Sunday for those who wish to participate.

From 4 to 5 pm on Sunday (12/20), UMCA will present our annual Christmas Pageant as an outdoor, drive-thru Nativity, broadcast on 88.3 FM from our church parking lot. Five vignettes will ‘tell’ the Bethlehem story of Jesus’ birth. You won’t want to miss it–please share the invitation with family, neighbors, friends!

The New England Conference has created a Christmas Eve Lessons & Carols service which is available online as well. I will forward the email to the parish contact list for any who wish to view it. Our virtual Christmas Concert is available for viewing on our website and facebook page. It is a celebration of song and life which I hope you will enjoy. Thank you to all the artists, but especially to Len Lednum who made it possible!
Sunday, 12/27, there will be one online livestream service at 10 am (UMCA facebook page/website and You Tube), without a 2 pm zoom meeting. I will be on vacation from 12/25 to 1/1/2021 (though available for pastoral emergencies, (339) 440-3746).

Beginning Sunday, 1/3/2021, there will be TWO online worship services offered: an 8:30 am Zoom service (with coffee chat immediately following) and a 10 am livestream on the UMCA facebook page, website and You Tube channel. This will continue through the five Sundays of January. Decisions about February will be announced by 1/24.

Thank you for your patience as we seek to worship in Spirit and joy, even as we try to keep everyone safe during this time of pandemic. We are grateful a vaccine is on the way, but as you know, the coronavirus statistics are currently devastating in the US, particularly. Thank you for your faithful contributions and support.

So, with Joseph, we may say, “Plans have changed…” But God is with us on the road, incarnate among us.

Much joy as we enter this last week before Christmas!

Pastor Steve Bascom