News for the Church, 12/18/20

Hello Lovelies!

Can you even believe it? The sky is blue today!! After weeks on end of dreary, grey skies, we get a perfect, wonderful day of sunshine. My heart is soaring!

Today I am in my 8th day of quarantine, stuck in my bedroom until December 23rd. Unfortunately, I don’t have any south-facing windows in my room, so I’ve had to wait for my scheduled “yard time” to feel the sunshine. But the wait was worth it. The warmth on my skin was heavenly!

I haven’t started climbing the walls quite yet, but I can feel it coming on. There’s only so much computer work, knitting, and embroidery a person can do in a small space before she starts to go nuts. LoL! Have any of you had to go into isolation? I’d love to hear what got you through your two-week stint.

Here’s the news for this week:

The Sunday after Christmas, Dec. 27, Dr. William Lake (beloved professor at Crane) will be leading worship, and he has a special request! He has asked me to request that, if you are able, please watch the movie entitled “Jingle Jangle” before December 27. It is available to watch on Netflix.

Here is the link to check it out:

Friends, I also have some bittersweet news to share. This coming Sunday, Dec. 20th, will be the last week that Gui, Feryal, and Leila will be providing music for our worship services. Gui and Feryal are both working 7 days a week right now, and it’s too much for their family. I think we all understand that having a day of rest is really important, so we will wish them well on their adventure down in South Carolina, and give thanks for the time we’ve gotten to share with them during our pandemic worship services. (If anyone would like to send them a card, email me and I’ll provide you with their address.)

That is the bitter half of the news. The other part– the sweet half– is that while we are saying goodbye to Gui and Feryal, Keilor Kastella will be taking over as our music leader. Keilor has already substituted in for us, so you might recognize him when you see him. And some of us have had the joy of actually meeting both him and his partner, Brian, in person at our monthly outdoor coffee hours over the summer. Both Keilor and Brian started at Crane this semester, and we are delighted to have this opportunity to have Keilor join us for worship. He will be the one playing for our Christmas Eve service–and in the sanctuary, no less!

Which reminds me–you are invited to join Keilor and I at our first-ever online Christmas Eve service at 7pm next Thursday evening. Like usual, it will be aired on our church’s Facebook page and at our church’s website–

This week we also said goodbye to the large maple tree that has graced the front yard of the church for more than 100 years. As I had mentioned previously, it has been dying for some time and needed to come down before the wind caused a calamity. Thankfully for us, Mike Cliff and Mike White of Paradise Valley Tree Services dropped the tree for us gratis. This is a significant gift considering the costliness of tree removal. So we offer a major shout out of gratitude to these fellows, along with Ron Kaiser, Bob Pickard, Rick Waters, and Dick Partch, who helped with the clean-up effort. Thanks fellas! You are much appreciated!

And thank you, big beautiful Maple, for sharing shade, oxygen, and beauty with us across the years. For so many decades you watched over our church building– from the days when people came by horse and buggy, and lit lanterns and candles for light, through two world wars, a flu epidemic, and many other difficult times. We offer our gratefulness to you for the life you shared with the world.

Dear hearts, I have been reminded today by my 5-year old niece that Christmas is exactly 7 days away. Are you prepared? Not only for the joy of that day, but also for the twinges of sorrow, or anger, or frustration that it will most likely stir up in us? We often experience more than one emotion at a time, and I hope you will give yourself permission to acknowledge all of the “feels” as we make our way through the holiday season.

Joyfulness usually makes it easy for us to get along with the people around us, but when we experience challenging emotions–and we don’t recognize what’s happening to us–sometimes those difficult emotions end up coming out sideways as anger and frustration, directed at the people around us.

I hope that you will hold grace for both yourself and those in your life in these coming weeks, and learn to pay attention to what your heart needs. If you need some “time out” from your family–because they’re driving you bonkers– give yourself some quiet space. If you’re isolated and alone, make it a priority to find a safe way to connect with people you love– whether it’s over a phone call, a zoom chat, a written letter, or standing in the front yard waving a big hello.

When we are able to honor our heart’s deepest needs, we create the space for God to restore our souls and rejuvenate our spirits. And this, in turn, opens us up to the strength of joy and gratitude, which God provides to see us through difficult times like these.

What does your heart need right now? I invite you to spend some time with yourself, discerning, and some time with God in prayer. How can you meet these needs right now, so that you will have the energy and strength to care for those around you in the days ahead?

In his letter to the believers in Philippi, Paul reminded them (and now us, as well)–

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

–Phil. 4:5-7

If we pay attention to what our hearts need this week, and ask God for help, we will likely find in the very midst of what troubles us, this peace which surpasses all understanding.

Sending Christmas Greetings of Love and Joy to You (from my bedroom)!
Pastor Katrina

p.s. Next spring the Tisdales have offered to have a sapling planted in the front yard. Maybe that will be the day we find ourselves gathering together to sing! I will hope….