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Wishing you a Merry Christmas! I hope and pray that you and your loved ones have been able to truly celebrate the spirit of this season and to sense the presence of Christ in whatever ways you can!


After so much planning and preparation, we anticipated sharing Christmas Eve with you in the parking lot, safely singing carols in our cars, and circling around the light of Christ, passing the flame of our faith in a symbolic symbol of our calling. Sadly, Mother Nature had other plans and prevented us from doing so due to the bitter cold and wind. We pray, however, that you were able to join us online for a memorable Christmas Eve at home, sharing our virtual community of faith, and encouraging one another at a distance! Thanks so much for being a part!


The candles, icons, and banners will go away for now, but we’ll still be lighting up the neighborhood with extra strands that point to the hope that is ours in Christ. Come drive through the church lot and savor all that we can still celebrate in the days ahead!


Meanwhile, please recall a couple of brief announcements:

  1. If you haven’t yet followed through on your commitment to making ministry happen in 2021 by sharing your Faith Promise form, please do so either online or via the mailbox prior to year’s end. We are 75% of the way toward our goal, but the Visioning Council will be meeting to finalize our budget proposal in just a few short days. We would appreciate all of the insight, plans, and feedback we can gather! Thanks in advance! Gifts intended for 2020 need to arrive at the church office by Thursday noon. If you need it recorded in 2020, do not depend on the mail service. Stop by mornings 8:30 to 12:30.

  2. We’re delighted to share two unique gifts with you in worship this Sunday: First, we’ll once again savor the incredible arrangements and harmonies of the Nordic Choir from Luther College and the Minneapolis-based National Lutheran Choir. Their voices have been a source of such encouragement in a chapter when we can’t easily sing together! Second, we’re blessed to be able to welcome the insights of Pastor Adam Hamilton, who has offered to share the Word with us and with churches around the country this Sunday. Pastor Hamilton will share his sermon from Kansas City, centered around how “incarnation” isn’t just about something that happened 2000 years ago, but still today. We thank him for the opportunity to focus on other aspects of our ministry this week!

Our worship will continue on demand through our website and YouTube and will be livestreamed on Facebook at 9:00 a.m. Sunday.


Hope that you can be present with us this weekend in whatever way you can!


Pastor Tim

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Gospel of Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


The passage may seem familiar. But for a moment, pause and take up the invitation to be part of Mary’s story. Her role in the story is the very essence of the Christmas story. It is all about Jesus. This young, teenage girl is the conduit by which Jesus, the focus of the story, enters the world. Her faith in God is radical, vibrant, and fully committed as she is the first disciple of Jesus Christ. It is not the part that Mary, you, or me play in the story; it is God acting in, with, through, and for us.


I’m messing around here a bit, but what if the passage sounded more like this: (PK’s version)


So, in the middle of the day, after weeks of wearing a mask, staying away from friends, trying to keep the kids from going outside, and helping them to do homework while I’m keeping my job – or missing my grandchildren and friends, feeling overwhelmed with loneliness, and trying to make sense out of technology, and simply tired of having to adapt, to recreate myself…I’m exhausted and yet, I trust in the promise of God. I am truly thankful and I’m holding on to the faith I have in God who promises to dwell with me…so I rest and, in my rest, I hear God speak my name "(put your name here)". An angel appears.


Gabe says to me – “Greetings, (put your name here), faithful one! Don’t be afraid. God is with you always. Now, the Lord has a plan to share the Good News with people who are longing to experience the joy of being loved by God and forgiven forever. The Lord has a plan to put you in the midst of a Jesus mission to tell others how Jesus came into the world to save us from our mess and restore a relationship with God and with one another. The Lord our God has a plan to bring peace to all the world. (Put your name here), God has picked you. Are you in?”


In shock, we say, “Wait, how can this be? Who am I to be asked to do something so amazing?”


Gabe speaks again and says, “You’ve got this. After all, the Holy Spirit is with you! The Savior is for you! And our Creator has picked you to share the Good News! Hear this message and put it on your mirror when you wake up and encounter the day and put this message of hope in your heart. All things are possible with God ." (Luke 1:37)


Our response…breathe in and breathe out – shoulders up and shoulders down…


“Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”


Hold that thought for a moment…


As we close the 2020 year, we collectively have shared a common story about a world-wide encounter with a virus and soon to be vaccine. The story literally took our breath away. Our collective discussion on safety measures has been on-going and exhausting as well as diligent and thought-provoking.


I, personally, refuse to kick 2020 out the door. Too many amazing things also happened in 2020, such as the hope of vaccines! Yes, some really hard and still harder yet challenges have hit you, me, and us. But can we say that 2020 was more challenging than the year that a young teenager was pregnant with the Son of God?


I’m not putting us up against this story, but inviting us to be in the story…with our own voice, our own joys, sorrows, and challenges. And hear the most amazing message of all…


The angel says to us, "You’ve got this…after all, all things are possible with God."


What will 2021 have in store for us? We have been invited into the story of all times, to open our arms, and to welcome a Mary-size response to have faith in God that is radical, vibrant, and fully committed as disciples of Jesus Christ.


People are longing to know. Will we be ready not to brand things as “re” anything? No, not go back, but instead boldly look ahead on how we, as disciples of Christ, welcome all God’s children, grow together, and serve with joyful hearts in the name of the one who loves us first and always, Jesus Christ.


Pastor Katie

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Updated: Dec 9, 2020

Dear Friends,


It is week 2 of our season of ADVENT! Watch worship this week on Facebook Premier or on our website launched on Sunday mornings. Don’t miss Children’s Sunday School at 10:00 with the zoom in the newsletter as well as Adult Sunday School (zoom link in the newsletter). There is a lot more information on the website, in our newsletter, and highlighted below! Stay connected, invite your friends, share our worship with others. Together, let us prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus.


This week in worship we will talk about the story of a woman named, Hannah.


Maybe we should start by asking the question, who is this – Hannah?


Hannah was the wife of Elkanah. We learn in 1 Samuel that he was from a respected family who worshipped at Shiloh. In verse 5, we learn that he loved his wife, Hannah. But Elkanah had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had already provided Elkanah with male heirs which was expected of a woman at that time and in that culture. Elkanah and Hannah prayed, sacrificed, and prayed again and again for decades. Alas, they did not have a child. While they prayed, Peninnah tormented Hannah and Hannah cried to the Lord. She told her husband how she has poured out her soul before the Lord (vs 15). She shared with him how she had great anxiety and stress all the time (vs 16) yet she remained faithful.


She surrendered her greatest fear, a fear that was attached to the status of her worth in her context of that time, she was afraid being “less than enough.” For decades she had channeled her fear and worry into faith that God was with her.


In verse 20 we learned that Hannah indeed gave birth to a child, a male child, named Samuel, whose name means, “God heard.”


The meaning of Hannah’s story isn’t about asking God for something and eventually getting it. That is called a wish list and a manipulation prayer. Our story isn’t about motherhood, although Hannah proved to be a devoted mother. What Hannah did was, in her time, practice her faith boldly and reverently with a hope that God heard her prayers. In her thanksgiving, she did one more thing: she dedicated her son to the temple to be raised as a priest. This son, Samuel, would someday anoint the first king of Israel, Saul. He would one day, tell Saul that he was no longer favored in God’s eye and a new king, Kind David would take his place.


Hannah’s story is crucial to the family story of Jesus. Why? Hannah witnessed to us with a humble heart, a dedicated heart, an aching heart, a faithfulness in God. Hannah prepared her heart, devoted her prayers and, without a doubt, took on a burden that would one day be a blessing for the all the tribes of Israel. Without Hannah, there is no Samuel. Without Samuel, there is no anointing of a King David. Without King David, there is no line of Judah from which the infant child, Jesus, is born. Thank you, Hannah, for your story is part of our story and of God’s story of grace for all people.


What is heavy on your heart today? Together we pray, Lord have mercy.

What is your fear today? Together we pray, Lord have mercy.

What is your challenge today? Together we pray, Lord have mercy.

What joy is in your heart today? Together we say, Lord we give you thanks!

Into your hands we give all of our prayers as we pray in your name Jesus Christ, Amen.


Blessings to you always,

Pastor Katie

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650 240TH STREET 

NORTH LIBERTY, IA 52317

(319) 665-2200

OFFICE@HOLYTRINITYNL.ORG

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North Liberty, IA