This Advent season has been special. Special music, special times of worship, and times for us to get together and experience holiday cheer. Since decorating the sanctuary, we have experienced the lighting of the candles of hope, peace, and joy. We also have celebrated at the table together. We have sung Christmas carols in the warm comfort of our sanctuary here at LOCC, and we have sung Christmas carols in the cold wind blowing around the sanctuary of the outlet mall. We have braved the cold to take the first prize blue ribbon for our float in the Lake Ozark Christmas parade, and have watched our children once again tell the timeless story of the birth of Jesus through the children’s Christmas program “Live from Bethlehem”. We experienced the sounds of Christmas by hosting the Lake Area Community Orchestra, and this week our adopted families will receive their gifts and food vouchers.

But wait. There’s more! Still to come is the “Blue Christmas” service, the lighting of the fourth Advent candle representing “Love” this Sunday, and then completing the lighting of all five candles, including the Christ candle on Christmas Eve. December 29th will find us experiencing our next “Harbor at LOCC” contemporary service!

There are so many people and things to be thankful for around here. If I tried to list all who have helped make this Advent special, it would take a massive amount of space here, and I would invariably leave someone out.

But know this: There are folks around our congregation who serve you, each other, and God in amazing ways. I am so proud of the impact our church is making amongst our own people and into our community. I am thankful to be your pastor.

As we turn the corner into a new year, I would like to challenge us all to look to the future we create together here. If you are one of those people who have plugged in through the year, thank you! If you haven’t plugged into the life of the Church as you would have liked to, make a commitment to do so! If everyone does even a little, we will be a significant force for good. And please, always use your powers for good! There are plenty of ways your talents and gifts can be used. I would love to hear about the gifts you can share to make LOCC even more relevant for the new year!

I thank you for an amazing year! I hope and pray that you and your families experience the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of the Advent season this year, and as Advent moves into Christmastide, may you be agents of change in your world which proclaims “The Good News” that Jesus is born into our hearts once again!

Merry Christmas!

Gary