Christmastime is a season of togetherness. There is an almost instinctual pull to gather with family and friends this time of year. Turn on the radio during the holidays, and you will hear songs leaning into the joy of meeting together and wistful remembering of family gatherings in years gone by. There is just something about Christmas that brings out our desire for contact and connection.
This has certainly been a drought year for that. The coronavirus pandemic has brought many normal gatherings to a screeching halt and caused others to be so restricted as to be unrecognizable. The virus has wreaked havoc far beyond physical health impact. There is nothing normal about the “new normal”.
As we enter December and this glorious season of togetherness, I am filled with a sense of holy pride in our Real Life family. Though our usual ways of experiencing togetherness have been shattered by the current state of affairs, we have largely found ways to adapt and overcome. We were unable to hold our annual picnic or our annual Thanksgiving and anniversary dinner, but we have continued to pray for one another and gather for worship, even while distancing and wearing masks. Many of us have chosen to gather virtually during this time, joining worship via Facebook and YouTube, listening to or watching the Something Real podcast, and using virtual options for small group interactions. Obviously, connecting electronically rather than in person is not the same thing, but it is something.
Some things have remained reasonably the same, even in this bizarre year. We have pulled together to work and serve, supporting missionaries and specific mission projects, producing our annual Advent devotional booklet, and continuing our regular maintenance and cleaning without a hitch. We managed to come together to decorate the church building for Christmas, even though we could not have our usual party to do it. Together we provided 23 tents for homeless people near Detroit. Together we packed and sent 58 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, providing joy and the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to children around the world. While many churches have struggled to meet expenses during the pandemic, many even closing permanently, our giving has actually increased during that period. Even with the world turned upside-down, Real Life has continued to function together as an embassy of God’s Kingdom in this world.
November 30 marked the 18th anniversary of the birth of Real Life Community Church. As I look back over those years, I am continually amazed by what God has provided and accomplished here. I am awed by what He has done in, for, and through us...together.
As we celebrate the coming of Immanuel and bring this unique year to a close, may we continue to grow in faith and practice as we walk this pilgrim’s journey...together.