For many of us, this holiday season is unlike that of yesteryears. The pandemic is still on the rise and now ravaging parts of our country previously unaffected. It has dealt us a significant blow, making a mockery of our health care system, which claims to be the best in and envy of the world. We, four percent of the world’s population, suffered more than twenty-five percent of global deaths from the pandemic. In the wake of this pandemic, we also became more acutely aware of the prevalence and presence of white supremacy and systemic racism in our society. The incident of a black man’s life extinguishing under the knee of a white man of authority in plain sight awakened the conscience of the world, which set off Black Lives Matter protests all across the United States and the world. In the backdrop of pandemic and race riots, our bitterly divided public also went to the polls. Now, we, shaken, traumatized, and somewhat chastened, are eagerly waiting for a vaccine as our only hope to be back to the normalcy of pre-pandemic times. However, we must ask ourselves whether we can ever go back to pre-pandemic normalcy or even it is desirable.
Our waiting for a COVID vaccine now coincides with another waiting, a spiritually consequential waiting of the Season of Advent, that is upon us. It is a season set apart in our church calendar for waiting in hopeful expectation of God becoming human and dwelling among God’s creation. The eastern church sees and observes Advent somberly like Lent, a mini Lent. For people who seek instant gratification, waiting for something is considered a sign of weakness and not being in charge. And, yet that is what Advent is for the people of God, a time of preparation in joyful anticipation of what God is about to do in their midst. Another time people of faith waited on God was to receive the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. This practice of waiting is a journey, a spiritual one that takes you to the heart of God. I pray that we take this time seriously. We take each day of the Advent season waiting on God in prayer and reflection so that we may be ready to let God become human in us and us become divine in Godself.
As baptized Christians, we are a sacramental people. We are visible symbols of the reality of God and the channels of God’s grace. Our sacramental presence and leadership are vital in making a difference in this broken world of ours. While the pandemic has exposed some of the fissures and fault lines of our society, it also has made visible the grace and goodness sacramentally present in our people, especially the front-line workers, essential personnel, doctors, and nurses.
As a church, we have shown how we can be sacramentally present to each other while maintaining our social distancing. Though we cannot gather for worship as we used to or get together with family and friends during this holiday season, we can be sacramentally present with each other over a phone conversation or attending our Sunday Morning Prayer and Tuesday Evensong on Zoom. Let us realize how we are a gift to each other. During this time of social isolation, calling someone on the phone or dropping a note in the mail and asking, ‘How are you?’ means a lot. It heals wounds, mends relationships, and builds bridges.
May your observance of Advent help you get closer to God and closer to each other!
Have a blessed Advent,
From Jim Ufheil, Rector’s Warden
First of all I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season, and especially a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our savior.
December and the whole holiday season is certainly looking different this year, especially without the hustle and bustle surrounding Lucia Fest, the continued social constraints which may lead to limited or even virtual Christmas and Christmas Eve services and missing our usual fellowship.
But we have much to be grateful for as well. We have been able to get through the past 7 months without laying off staff; we have initiated the repair work under the Keystone Grant that we were awarded; we’ve cleared and cleaned our storage spaces; we maintained our commitments to various ministries that we had established pre-pandemic; we brought in Rev. Koshy as our interim priest; and we have upgraded our capabilities to electronically stay in touch with each other and provide live streaming of our services to our homes.
As we move toward the end of 2020 and into what I’m sure we all hope to be a new and more conventional year, we need to bear in mind that some of 2020’s impact will carry over with us. We, Gloria Dei, lost significant income due to the fact that we were locked out of having so many fundraising events (flea markets, Sexton Sideshow events, and yes most of all Lucia), and not being able to rent our spaces to others. And, despite the fact that we look to end the year very close to reaching our pledge amount, we will fall short of breaking even by around $30,000. Not an amount to panic over as we will figure a way to cover this, but nevertheless a substantial shortfall.
So, as you consider your pledge for next year, or even perhaps a year end gift/donation, please remember that Gloria Dei is here for you, to help you whenever and however you need, and that Gloria Dei can use your help as well.
God Bless you all, and have a healthy, happy and safe Christmas and holiday season.
Changes to the Sunday Service
As we continue on our journey through life in the time of Covid, we’re faced with having to make a lot of quick changes and adjustments. This week gave us a little more time to think through what we needed to do to provide a better virtual experience. While we are still under severe constraints on who and how many people can congregate in one place at one time, etc., it has been decided that we will try to present as “normal” a Sunday service as possible, with Koshy preaching, Paul playing our organ, and lay readers who are willing to come to Gloria Dei.
We’ll be live streaming on the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Episcopal Church Facebook page as we have been for the last months. After the service, log on to Zoom for a virtual “coffee hour” where we can talk with each other and be connected. An email blast will be sent every Friday with the Zoom links for Sunday Morning Virtual Coffee Hour and the Tuesday Evensong service at 6:30. The email will also include the Sunday service bulletin.
It’s not ideal, but don’t give up on us. One of these days we’ll be back together in person again. Until then we hope you’ll join the rest of your church family virtually each Sunday (and Tuesdays for Evensong).
We thank you for sticking with us as we work through what will bring you the best viewing experience.
December 2020 Calendar
Sundays in December
Morning Prayer - 10 AM. - Live Streamed on the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Episcopal Church Facebook page.
Zoom Coffee Hour – After Morning Prayer. Come to Zoom Coffee hour for some friendly conversation. The Coffee Hour Zoom link will be emailed each Friday.
Tuesdays in December
Evensong on Zoom - 6:30 PM, followed by “coffee hour” (or whatever you like to drink!) Email Jaime at email@example.com for a Zoom link.
Wednesday, December 9
Movie Discussion on Zoom – 6:30 PM. Join us for discussion of 13, a movie now showing on Netflix.
Collect: Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Collect: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
Collect: Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
December 24, 2020
Collect: O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit helives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Collect: Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Grace, peace, and mercy from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. As I write this, it is a few days prior to Thanksgiving and less than a week before the start of Advent. I find myself feeling grateful for the blessings of the past month and eagerly anticipating the start of something new. Always, though, joy and sorrow intermingle. In my joy over the abundant food on my table, the warm roof over my head, and the freedom I have to worship God in my way, there is sorrow in acknowledging that many are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned. However, joy bubbles up again in God’s call to share my abundance with all these people, just as Jesus asked of his disciples in the gospel of Matthew (25:35-40).
Trusting that joy and sorrow go hand-in-hand, I invite you to pray with me for the following people: Ann, Isabella, Sally, Tom, Nancy, Susan, Peg, Janet, Abby, Jerry W., Barb C., Amy, Edward, Margie K., Shaun, Raymond, and Ina. We pray for the repose of the soul of George, Patricia and Larry. We also pray for all victims of violence and oppression, natural disasters, and COVID-19. May our hearts be full of gratitude for our abundant blessings and remain open in service to all who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned.
Peace and blessings,
Megan Bartlett, Prayer Ministry Coordinator
If you feel called to participate in this ministry, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a prayer request, you can contact the church office (215-389-1513) or email me at the address above.
How To Be An AntiRacist – Review
Ibram X. Kendi wrote a book entitled "How to be an AntiRacist". Some congregants of Gloria Dei have been meeting weekly to discuss his book.
Kendi's overarching theme is that it is not enough to not be a racist. One must actively fight against racist policies and racist behaviors. Kendi broadens the thesis of racism to include all marginalized groups in our society: women, LGBT, etc. Kendi tells us that racism comes from self-interest and not from ignorance.
Racist policies fall into two categories: assimilation and segregation. Racist ideas fall into three categories: biology, culture and behavior. To fight racism requires power, something that the powerful are unwilling to relinquish. He compares racism to societal cancer. Kendi warns that the antiracists face a daunting challenge that they need to address with compassion and hope. Otherwise, we cannot achieve the promise of a "more perfect union".
In reading the book, I was frequently reminded of Matthew 12:30: "If you are not on my side, you are against me. If you don't gather in the harvest with me, you scatter it." Christ calls us to work towards the American ideals of freedom and justice for all.
Green Habit of the Month
Did you know that using your garbage disposal is GREEN?
Rotting food in landfills emits methane gas, a powerful greenhouse gas. But if you live in Philadelphia, any food that you put down the disposal is recycled into fuel that is used to run Philadelphia Water Department facilities or pellets that can used as fertilizer.
Less Methane! More renewable energy! What could be easier!
Join us for the next Green Committee meeting on Thursday, December 10th at 6:30 PM on Zoom!
Gloria Dei Online Gift Shop
The Gloria Dei online gift shop is open and ready for your holiday shopping!
Get everything you need for a Swedish God Jul, or a great Christmas gift for anyone on your list.
And be sure to watch this year’s Lucia performance on the Gloria Dei Facebook page on Sunday, December 13 from 3:30-4:30. Then while the spirit of St. Lucia and Christmastide is still fresh, browse our Swedish gifts online!
Major Van Winkle Memorial
On Sunday, November 29, Advent 1, after our Morning Prayer, we dedicated the Major Van Winkle memorial benches. They are donated to the church by Major’s dad, Don Winkle, and friend, Michaela Shea. Major, our neighbor and a Philadelphia-based hip hop artist and songwriter died in September. Don and Michaela asked our vestry whether they would be allowed to make a donation of two reclining benches in his memory to be placed in our bird sanctuary. The vestry told them they could, provided that they would meet and follow vestry’s requirements. The benches came today and are now in the bird sanctuary. They look beautiful.
Larry Brilliant by Jim and Cathy Ufheil; Julie Daye
Zachary Dennis Ross
If you would like to purchase a memorial card for $5, please call the church office at 215-389-1513.