“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.”​ — Psalm 107:1-2. 

Christmas Looks Different: Is There Something Missing? 
Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” sets the scene for today’s Voice of Grace. Looking through God’s 20/20 vision, the changes in our church is a testimony of His redemption: seeing God on the move, building His body, and changing hearts at GRC! How in the midst of the stillness of Covid, we have no choice but to wait upon Him. Despite what is happening in the world, God is building our faith through Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, not only through the hilltop moments but through the darkest valleys in our journey. Through God’s perfect timing, He is helping us to see the true reason for this season. 

Christmas Past 
As a newly-planted church in 2010, we were focused on building a church, which meant we were more inwardly-focused. This meant less time for community outreach. Now as we look back, we see Emmanuel (“God with us”), building us from the inside out. He was strengthening a body of believers so that we would be prepared to go deeper. 

Christmas Present 
Fast forward to 2018. With 21 Harristown Road came new responsibilities and opportunities. We wanted to provide different programs for all, but in the midst of building our own towers, the pandemic brought the world to a sudden, screeching halt. God’s course correction was quite evident, pointing out that not only the world, but also the church, can become filled with distractions. The pandemic and racial discords gave us an opportunity to focus on furthering His Kingdom and righteousness. 

Christmas Future – A Great Big Family Surprise! 
Covid-19 might dampen our spirit, but God – those Gospel words – gives us great reason to celebrate. Through your faith and generosity, GRC seized opportunities to heed Christ’s call: to boldly go out and serve, even during this uncomfortable time. 

One such moment was the recent partnership between our annual Sponsor a Family event with Father’s Cupboard, a food pantry adopted by our Diaconate. This past Saturday, we witnessed God’s provision through an amazing outpouring of food and efforts by several dozen organizations and hundreds of people! We provided 60+ families with a Christmas meal, toys, and gift cards. Most importantly, our volunteers were able to pray for the many families who stopped at the prayer-tent .

We can’t undervalue this past Saturday’s food distribution.  What a joy it was to see our GRC family growing through Christ in exciting new relationships within our community and how people are being blessed (read a thank you note from one of the families).  God’s vision is for us to serve others so that the chains of self-centeredness will be forever broken into pieces. 

Is something missing? I think not. We just need to be looking in the right places. The Christmas surprise we find this year is not neatly wrapped under our tree to be opened.  No, it is in the giving of hearts and hands; To truly understand His love by giving without expecting anything in return. Praise God for giving us a glimpse of what His future holds: to build relationships and to be an oasis for the needy, the broken, and the underserved. Our job has only begun. 

My Prayer Request
God, thank you for giving us eyes to see how there are many more others who need our help, including ourselves. In this season, you have given your only Son so that we might joyfully give and serve others sacrificially. Help us to glorify you by showing others Your Kingdom. Let us be guided through the Spirit to comfort others as we ourselves have been comforted by the love of our Father manifested through our Lord and Savior, your Son Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Werner Tretner serves as a Deacon and is the Director of Celebrate Recovery. 

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