Sunday November 28, 2021 we celebrated the First Sunday of Advent at Gloria Dei, Garland. It was a momentous day for a number of reasons including it being the day that on the way to Garland the odometer in the Bishopmobile turned over 150,000 miles. That is 150,000 #milesandmiles of NT-NL Synod, ELCA since the car was acquired in September 2016. I am grateful for the synod providing a good reliable vehicle for my various journeys.
Worship at Gloria Dei was a lovely experience. They are back in person with a number of folks also choosing to worship online. Not unlike most of our communities. They also have been dealt challenges this year as a pipe burst back in the February ice storm which caused significant damage to the office and gathering spaces. That damage has only now been almost finally been repaired due to delays in insurance payments and the difficulty in securing workers to do the labor. A scenario we have experienced across NT-NL and at Briarwood Leadership Center as well.
Despite these challenges, or perhaps because of them, we celebrated the first Sunday of Advent under the theme of “God’s Promises: Hope Comes Back.” A reminder that when we here the scripture from Jeremiah that “the days are surely coming” we live fully in the now and not yet of the promises of God. As part of their stewardship journey we heard a video testimonial of a new member of Gloria Dei who joined during pandemic. Worshipping online for the first 12 months of her membership only now to join in person on occasion. This is the new reality in which we live.
It was a joy to share worship duties with Pastor Tom Schwolert, the second person we ordained during this pandemic. In addition we also were joined by NT-NL Word and Service candidate J.J. Godwin who is doing their internship at Gloria Dei. Assuming a positive approval decision soon JJ will be the first person ordained a deacon in NT-NL since the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America changed our policies at the 2019 churchwide assembly to ordain deacons.
It was a blessed day that ended with fun with my youngest, playing in the park with friends, and coming home to light our advent wreath. We sing “Veni, veni, Emanuel” trusting God’s promises, our hope, is coming. We wait upon the Lord. #NTNL #BWTX #InMissionTogether