As we celebrate Christmas (and remember that the season lasts for twelve whole days!), and prepare for the changing of the year, it is natural to reflect back on 2020. And while the year’s awful events were unprecedented for the vast majority of us, there were also unprecedented opportunities to connect, to serve others, and to give thanks.

It was my experience that the Church of the Holy Apostles community really rose to the occasion and became a beacon of light and hope for our church community and well beyond. In this time of isolation and loneliness, our parishioners have done a remarkable job of reaching out to each other and staying connected — through zoom worship, phone calls, emails, and countless other means, including old-fashioned letters! Many of us have commented that we feel like we’ve gotten to know each other in new and deeper ways. We have also supported each other through illness and grief, sorrowing at the loss of the ability to have the usual rituals but assuring each other of love and prayers just the same.

Our community has always been called to serve others, and as we know, the outstanding Soup Kitchen staff and the small but hearty band of volunteers have gone above and beyond this year. Instead of seeing all the ways that feeding the hungry would be next to impossible in the midst of a pandemic, Michael Ottley, Mother Anna, and the rest of the staff found creative ways to respond that allowed a vast increase in the number of meals that could be provided. Many in our congregation continued to serve our community in other ways as well, including activism and post-card writing campaigns, continuing our mission of supporting those who are marginalized and outcast in our society.

Running through the ways we both connected and served others is gratitude. There is no doubt that this was a year in which so many of us suffered. And yet, it was also a year that so many of us became particularly aware of our blessings — and a major blessing for almost all of us is our faith and the support of that faith by our Holy Apostles community. I hope and pray that we will be able to keep this sense of gratitude going in 2021 as things get back to whatever the new normal will be.

So I end with giving thanks myself for each and every one of you, and for our beloved Church of the Holy Apostles. May all of us find health, blessings, and peace this Christmas season and beyond!