Chimes December 2020


North Tonawanda

Thankful and Advent. What a strange and yet for us wonderful day of thanksgiving. The four of us were together and we shared a meal that we prepared together. As I write those words I am aware that I may be putting salt in wounds because you may have had your first thanksgiving where that did not take place. I am sorry. Thankfulness is hard work that can easily be forgotten. I am so thankful for the church members who continue to support the church with their gifts. I am grateful too to those who let me know that they are not able to be in face to face worship but they want me to know they are following the web, fb or emails.

Advent is like that too. When did the Christmas music start on the local radio stations? When should we start to get ready for Christmas. On one level all year and yet we are a people who need props to get better focus some days. Advent invites to look again at our relationship with God.

These past months have created great stress. Much of which is just plain uncertainty. We haven’t been clear about Christmas eve because several churches are already fully remote and yet if we can accommodate some it seems like the thing to do. Yet, as you all know, our officials can change the permissions based on the evaluation of spread that the numbers describe.
Pretty curious how that mimics the time of Christ’s first coming. Imagine with me the rabbis speculating at the schools for rabbinic students the day and time of the Messiah’s return. Think of the criteria to know that this is the one. Rabbis today argue that Christ is not the messiah because there is no universal peace and goodwill. They are sure right that those two things do not exist in our world.
So are we whistling in the dark, canaries in a coal mine, singing because we haven’t got the bad air that kills? You know that there was indeed a time when canaries were the warning that the air was not able to sustain life and the miners needed to leave before they died. Advent is not a canary in a coal mine although some Advent preachers focus on the return of Christ. That second coming seems as uncertain for us as the first coming did in the time of Christ. So does singing Christmas carols help? In these short dark days, is advent a shot in the arm of hope? For me the certainty of Christ with me, no matter what, not changing the details or stress or delivering me from the pain but the ever present God is what I hold on to now.

Peace, Stu

PLEDGE CARDS – as of 11/27/20 we have received 16 pledges with a total of $44,400. Christmas eve will be taped and available the week of Christmas eve. At this point there will be a service at three and seven o'clock. There will be no candles due to masks and safety. Communion will be picked up as you enter the sanctuary. Both services will be shorter. this could change at any point.
Remember the Christmas envelope from your box goes to Salvation Army.
Christmas Joy ¼ goes to Lockport Home and the rest to the denomination for retired clergy and widowed spouses.
Loose, pew envelopes and regular envelopes go to North Church. THANK YOU!

Merry Christmas 2020

What a year. As a globe, we’ve faced numerous, horrific natural phenomena from destructive tropical storms to wildfires wiping out entire towns. Add in the global pandemic and a presidential election, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for stress. But things are looking up. 2020’s almost over and I think we’re all ready for the new beginnings 2021 promises us.
This past year has definitely been one for the books. I, Quin, started the year getting ready for what I thought would be the best 4 months of my college experience, living in the middle of Florence, Italy with some of my closest friends and taking classes in the old studio of a Renaissance icon, Vasari and eating gelato at least twice a day. It definitely started out like that. I spent my days walking by the Arno, drinking espresso, and soaking in the history and incredible food.

Mom and Dad aka Stuart and Laura came the first week of February and we ate, drank (coffee of course ;)) and explored. When I had class, they went church-hopping, which is not surprisingly one of their favorite activities. It was purely coincidental that Maddy’s flight to Italy for the Italian Exchange, was the same flight my parents took. After my parents left, Maddy and her friends spent a few days in Florence after almost two weeks in Bolzano in the North. Those two days were full of gelato, pasta, and game nights in our little apartment. Maddy left and my class hopped on the train to Venice. Venice was beautiful until COVID-19 thought it was time for it to make its appearance. My class wore makeshift masks on the train back to Florence and five days later, I was on a plane back to New York.

Coming home was a blessing in disguise. The four of us spent nights in quarantine playing games, watching tv shows like Schitt’s Creek, and laughing at anything and everything. Maddy graduated in a mask and then again in the living room. Her senior prom was on the radio, but that’s what Maddy preferred to be honest. Summer brought cancelled plans to visit family, but new plans of relaxing at the cottage and birthdays at the lake. In our Covid bubble, we went to the drive-in, watched the sunrise, went on picnics, and explored Buffalo.
School started at the end of August, online of course, and churches reopened in September. Maddy started her first year at Agnes Scott, taking a full schedule with classes including Intro to Public Health, Religious Leadership and Spanish. I’m a junior at Global and while it’s sad to not be in Australia, my professors have done so much to maintain the benefits of experiential learning. Beyond having class on Sundays and extreme zoom fatigue, online school isn’t half bad. I mean who doesn’t want to wear their pajamas 24/7.
My parents are still doing all they can to help people and be there for their congregations which isn’t new. My mom held prayer service on Facebook Live, multiple times a week and had virtual coffee time until it was safe enough to meet in person (with safety precautions of course). My dad has been recording sermons and bible studies as well as creating little packets with his sermon and bulletin for those who can’t make it into church. Both of my parents have been working at Covid units as chaplains since April, which can be scary but has the perks of weekly testing.

2020 has been a mess to say the least, but with this extra time together, we can’t help but feel grateful for friends, family, our health, good food, and Netflix. Fingers crossed that 2021 brings happiness, health, a vaccine, more love for our planet, and lots of ice cream.

Quin, Maddy, Laura and Stuart