Letter to the Congregation - November 23
After careful consideration of current trends and recommendations from numerous sources, our congregation council decided at its November 19 meeting to suspend in-person worship again until further notice. Although churches are technically exempt from Clay County health guidelines going into effect on Nov. 23 that limit public gatherings, we believe we are called and empowered by God to make this sacrifice out of love and care for our neighbors. I assure you that we do not take this decision lightly or without much consideration.
Let us be clear--we are NOT cancelling church. We are simply shifting the way we do ministry for a while. It won't be forever. The people of God have been through a lot in their history, and God has always brought us through. This time will be no different.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve had to do this so far in 2020. However, it means that we have a better idea what to expect, and we’ve learned a lot. We can be deliberate, rather than just reactive. In this letter you’ll find information about how you can connect with your church family, continue to worship and serve, and experience a meaningful Christmas.
During the pandemic, we’ve created a new website as the hub of all our online activities: www.HosannaTogether.org
Our worship continues . . .
Online - We won’t be in the same physical space, but we can gather at the same time to sing, pray, and listen to God’s Word together. Join us each Sunday at 9:30. Visit the website above and click the Join Worship link. If you miss us at 9:30, you can join anytime after that.
We acknowledge livestreamed worship has been glitchy sometimes, but going online only means we’ll be able to iron out the wrinkles. Even if online worship isn’t ideal for you, it still keeps us connected and praying. We hope you’ll join us.
You are important, and we’d love to know that you are part of our worship. Please leave a comment on the worship page to let us know that you are with us, even if it’s just your name. Your presence is a blessing to us and an offering to God.
DVD/CD - If you are not technologically inclined, and online worship doesn’t work well for you, we will mail or deliver a video DVD or audio CD with the worship service every week. Just call the church office (781-7991) and let Cathy know.
Audio Only - If the online video isn’t working for you some week, or you just want to listen to the sermons, you can play audio recordings of either at www.hosannatogether.org/audio.
Holy Communion - Pastor Mike continues to offer drive-thru Communion each Sunday 10:30-11:15 (time now extended). Pull up by the kitchen door and he will bring it out to your car while wearing a mask. If the line’s not long, Pastor Mike also enjoys the opportunity to visit with you.
How we’ll celebrate Advent and Christmas together . . .
With the year we’ve had, we all need Christmas right now. We need to hear, see, and feel that God is with us where we are. Although it’s disappointing we won’t be able to gather in the sanctuary for worship, we have lots of opportunities to still experience the wonder and joy of Christmas.
Light an Advent wreath - Light an advent wreath at home along with us on Sundays beginning Nov. 29. The November Bless Box for kids contains a kit to make a wreath, but adults may also pick up one of the extras from the tub outside the front doors at the church building.
Favorite nativities - The nativities in our homes are beautiful handcrafted pieces of art that provide diverse perspectives on what the incarnation of Jesus looked like, and how it touches us personally. Send a picture of your nativity to email@example.com, along with an explanation of why it’s meaningful to you. Beginning Monday, Dec. 7, we’ll post your pictures at www.hosannatogether.org/nativities.
Christmas Carols with Hosanna! - Dr. Dan will be working with some members to create a special recording of beloved Christmas carols that we’ll release mid-December for your enjoyment or for sign-along anytime during the season.
Kids’ Christmas Program - A census didn’t stop Jesus from being born, and a pandemic can’t stop our kids from telling the story. Individuals of all ages are invited to participate--you just need a device you can use to pre-record your part at home. Sign up at https://tinyurl.com/HLCpageant. We’ll share this amazing story during online worship on Sunday, Dec. 20.
Poinsettias - Traditions help us navigate difficult times. Poinsettias will still grace our worship space for online worship, and are one way you can have a physical presence in that space. Order your poinsettia at www.hosannatogether.org/poinsettia or by calling the church office.
Blue Christmas Service - This service to acknowledge sadness and loss during the holidays may be even more fitting this year than in the past. Whether the holidays are difficult for you every year, or you’re just feeling extra blue this year, you are welcome to join us online Monday, Dec. 21 (the longest night of the year) at 7:00pm. A link to the service will be posted on our website.
Sacred Space - The pandemic doesn’t allow us to share the holy space of the worship sanctuary together this year, but you are invited to spend time in the sanctuary during Christmas week. We’ll have music playing, and the space will be yours to sit, walk, and/or pray in this sacred space. Sign up for a time at www.hosannatogether.org/sanctuary or follow the link from the website.
Christmas Eve Worship Service - This service will open sacred space that connects you to God and the church, from wherever you join. It will be filled with meaningful traditions, special music, and the voices of our church family. We’ll hear again the story of how God is born right where we are, even when things don’t go according to plan. This online service will be available at our Hosanna! Together website beginning at 4:00pm on Thursday, Dec. 24.
Pick up a “God is born right here” candle from the bin outside the church building front doors to light during this service. You may also call the church office to have us drop one off for you.
Holy Night Candlelight Christmas Eve - Join us Dec. 24 at 8:00pm for a short (15 min.) parking lot candlelight gathering. We’ll hear the Christmas story, say a prayer, and sing Silent Night. You will have the option to remain in your car or gather with a mask and distance in the vineyard. The audio will be broadcast to your car via the radio. Real and electronic candles will be provided.
Hosanna! ornaments - The high school youth are selling Hosanna! ornaments. Find more details in the happenings, or just e-mail them at HosannaTGS@gmail.com to reserve yours for $10.
What else is happening . . .
Open a Bless Box - We’re not meeting for Sunday school right now, but kids can still grow in faith. Similar to a subscription-style box, we’re assembling Bless Boxes each month for all of our kids with activities and resources to dive deeply into their faith. November’s box focuses on preparing for God. December’s box will focus on God being with us and include materials to build a nativity set. Parents, don’t forget to read the included booklet that’s just for you.
Pick up this month’s Bless Box by Nov. 29. They’re available for pickup 24/7 in a tub by the front doors of the church building. We have extra boxes available to share with grandkids, neighbors, or to do the projects yourself. December’s box will be available by Dec. 12.
Contribute to the MLM Christmas Store - Make a monetary donation by check to Metro Lutheran Ministry, 3031 Holmes, KCMO 64109 or shop via Amazon. Sign up to help at the MLM warehouse to prepare gift orders for clients to pick-up. Links to donate online, purchase from Amazon, and to sign up to help prepare gift orders are at www.hosannatogether.org/service.
Continue Supporting Hosanna! - Our expenses are lower this year, but so are offerings, so we’re running at a deficit right now. Please don’t forget to give regularly or catch up if you’re behind on your pledge for the year. You can give online at www.hosannatogether.org/give or by mailing a check. Please also pledge your giving commitment for 2021 at www.hosannatogether.org/pledge.
Check in on others - Hosanna! has always valued deep relationships, and we believe those relationships will sustain us through this time. We encourage you to call, write, message, or send a telegram to others in the church. If you’d like help knowing who to contact, call the church office and ask Cathy to sign up for sending Hosannagrams.
Keep an eye what’s Happening in your e-mail - Things change from week to week, and we’re doing our best to keep you up to date. The best way to stay connected and know what’s happening right now is by reading our weekly Happenings e-newsletter. If you aren’t getting them, call the church office (781-7991) and we’ll help you get connected.
Let us know if you’d like printed materials - If you’d prefer to have the weekly newsletter and/or bulletin in a printed format, call the church office, and Cathy will mail them to you.
There’s more to come. - This letter contains what’s happening in the next month and a half. God has plans for us, and there are many more things we’ll get to share in the new year.
Feeling Down about Life and the Pandemic . . .
This is a tough time. On top of the anxiety brought on by the pandemic, the things that give us strength and stability to face tough situations--routines, relationships, worship, and more--are all different right now, too. Know that you aren’t alone in feeling it.
We’ve put together a list of resources to help you with your big feelings during this time at www.hosannatogether.org/feelings.
We’ve even added a special section about holiday stress, but here are a few tips:
Set up Christmas decorations early and in abundance. It’ll be tempting to go small this year. Instead, go all out. Put up the things that have sentimental meaning and that give you joy.
Keep perspective. This year won’t be the same, but it won’t always be like this. Focus on what you can control, rather than what is out of your control. Look for the blessings, not what you’re missing.
Discuss plans with family and friends. Don’t assume everyone will be on the same page. Listen to what your family and friends are saying, and be clear about what you’re feeling. Show grace to each other. And don’t let a cancellation of some traditions mean that you can’t do anything at all. This might be the year to use technology or explore outdoor events.
Do something new. Drive through the neighborhood to look at lights on houses. Go to the Liberty Light Show at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church or the Winter Magic KC light show downtown. Sing along the Christmas Carols with Hosanna! (available mid-December). Post a video of you singing Christmas carols, reading your favorite Christmas stories, or giving greetings. Send Christmas cards.
Keep Christ in Christmas. Jesus wasn’t born in a church building; he was born in some guy’s garage. Remember that God is with YOU throughout this season. You are not alone, and you will make it through this cold winter.
We’re here to talk with you and pray for you. If you’d like to talk, no matter how small the matter, Pastor Mike is here for you. You are not a burden, a bother, or a distraction from things more important. You are important, and Pastor Mike cares about you, but he doesn’t know what you don’t tell him. The best way to reach Pastor Mike is on his cell phone: 402-741-2957. You can also send prayer requests for yourself or for others by calling the church office or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there are ways we’re missing that we can help or support you physically, financially, emotionally, or spiritually during this time, please reach out to Pastor Mike at 402-741-295 or at email@example.com. If you’d like to do something to help connect or support other members, and just need help with communication, resources, or encouragement, let us know and we’ll gladly offer it.
We Have Hope . . .
Every one of us is ready to be done with COVID and wanting to move on. We may not be there yet, but the Good News is that there’s hope. It might be hard to see it at times, but God promises to get us through this, just as God has led generations through tough times before.
I’ve recorded a video message about where we find hope, and I invite you to watch it at www.hosannatogether.org/hope.
May God bless you and sustain you this holiday season. And until we have a chance to see each other face-to-face again, may God bless you and keep you, and give you grace and peace.