Prepare the Way

2022 Stewardship campaign


Dear Friends in Chris,

During Advent and Christmas we are particularly in touch with the work of God. The fact that God comes down rather than the thought that we must somehow ascend ourselves to be with God, is the overarching message, gift and promise of the Christmas story. The word "Emmanuel" means "God is with us." And during December we prepare our hearts, homes and lives for the birth of Jesus.

And it is in this spirit that we ask you to consider your intentional gifts to the ministry of River of Grace for the year of 2022.

Our ministry is making a difference in the lives of people. Many are learning about God's word for them as they engage in Bible study. Community members are served by our Little Free Pantry. A dozen teenagers are engaged in our Confirmation and Youth Ministry, and eight young people are heading to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Minneapolis in July. We had a multitude of community members who came to our Trunk or Treat. Our in-person worship has resumed and we continue to share with people online--near and far--as we worship our Lord and Savior. We have stood by and with people in crisis. And we have special Advent and Christmas ministries and opportunities in store. 2021 has been a fabulous year!

And this isn't all. The coming year will bring more ministry opportunities that include quarterly outreach events, supporting local organizations in need, working together to help with disaster relief for places in America and all around our world, and beginning a new ministry for the families of the youngest among us. We will continue to host Sunday's Cool for our kids, Confirmation and Four12@TheRiver gatherings for our teens, and Bible studies and small group ministries for our adults. And, of course, we trust that the Holy Spirit will grow us in friendship, faith, and in fellowship even as we serve our community and our world.

Below, you will find materials to enrich your Advent journey and your journey of faith as you consider your financial support of our ministry in 2022.

Each week we will focus on what we recognize as part of the Christmas story: the Stable and the Holy Family, the Angels and the Stars, the Shepherds and their Animals, and the Wisemen and their Camels. And we'll grow in our understanding of our lives, hopes, dreams, struggles, and faith at that very place. After all, the story isn't one of long ago. If it were, there would be no Christmas celebrations in this millennium. But the glory of Christmas comes to us and we get to take part in it all.

Thank you for all your gifts--financial and otherwise--to our shared life of faith at River of Grace. Even during these last two unimaginable years of the world, making every kind of required adjustment considering COVID-19, our ministry has not only endured but it has thrived. As you consider, pray about, and look forward to our ministry of 2022, you can trust that every gift you give is faithfully given to make more evident God's love and grace in the world. God comes down and we get to join in the ministry right here amid the manger, right here in the midst of the love of Christ.

With love in Christ,

Pastor Connie Thomson

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Prepare the way

Weekly Devotionals

Behold, the Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son.

They shall call his name Emmanuel, which means, "God is with us."

Matthew 1:23

Our annual Stewardship Campaign coincides with Advent this year, and as we Prepare the Way for the coming birth of Jesus, we reflect on how the blessings we receive from Jesus inspire us to be a blessing to others.

Over the next few weeks, you are invited to reflect on the different aspects of the Christmas story: the Stable and the Holy Family, the Angels and the Stars, the Shepherds and their Animals, and the Wisemen and their Camels. As you do, please contemplate the meaning each story element holds for us, in our daily lives, in our lives at River of Grace, and not just at this time of year, but throughout our lives, and even to see ourselves in the holiness they each represent. Let us Prepare the Way for Jesus to be with us, and for others to feel the love of Jesus through us.

Week One: The Stable and the Holy Family

The place of shelter for Mary and Joseph, and for the birth of Jesus. A nurturing, welcoming, safe place. It was the first home of Jesus, and represents our own religious home. How has River of Grace been a place of shelter or home for you? How might we continue to be that same for others?

Week Two: Angels and Stars

Angels, as well as heralding and announcing the Good News that a New World is coming in the birth of Jesus, also beckon, guide and welcome us. The star guides us too, and illuminates a dark world for us, making our path brighter. In what ways has River of Grace been welcoming to you, guided you, or illuminated your way? How might we do the same?

Week Three: Shepherds (and their Animals)

Shepherds are the caregivers who look after their sheep, tending their flock with care. They were the first ones to answer the call of the angels and to meet Jesus, along with the humble stable animals. They were also the first ones to go out and spread the word of Jesus' birth. How has River of Grace tended to you? How are we called to be good shepherds of our faith, our resources, our gifts from God, and our church home, River of Grace?

Week Four: Wisemen (and their Camels)

The Wisemen had been waiting a long time for a sign of Jesus' birth and through their persistence and determination, they traveled through wilderness to reach him, where they honored him and brought him gifts. How has River of Grace helped you on your own faith journey? How might we best share our gifts? How can we make a clear way for people to travel through their own wilderness?

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