2 December 2020

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember
and how you remember it.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
 
Greetings to you in the name of the Indescribable Gift, Jesus Christ.

Advent finds us in a time to reflect upon that very short description of Christ that we find in 2 Corinthians, the “Indescribable Gift”. So much about our experiences of late are “indescribable”, in a different way. It is good to remember that we are living in anticipation of the gift that defines each and every one of us in all that we do and believe.  
 
In preparing to write to you today, I returned to the very first letter that
I wrote in the name of the Council on March 12, almost nine months ago. Because Sisters and Brothers, we are finding ourselves in a similar situation. The numbers do not lie. The reality of family and social gatherings and its pandemic implications cannot be denied. I share with you the words
of Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of PC(USA).

The Council of HRP, meeting every other week since the outbreak of the pandemic, is offering the following advisement for Advent and Christmas:

  • THE COUNCIL OF HUDSON RIVER PRESBYTERY ENCOURAGES CONGREGATIONS TO FOLLOW NEW YORK STATE GUIDELINES DURING THESE COVID DAYS AND TO ADDITIONALLY SEEK THE INPUT OF PASTORS AND STAFF AS THEY DISCERN THE WORSHIP LIFE OF THEIR CONGREGATION MOVING FORWARD.

As always, Hudson River Presbytery affirms that the Session of individual congregations will make the final decision around matters of church building use. We trust that as leaders of the church, you will act with compassion and care for ALL of God’s people. Current information regarding the pandemic in your area can be found at COVID website:


and at NY Forward, with the micro clusters and zone restrictions:


This can be a challenging decision, particularly when considering traditional Christmas Eve services. Most of 2020 has been a challenging time, in so many ways. But amid the darkness, there is light and hope! A vaccine is on the near horizon. We are fairly proficient in recording or livestreaming our worship. We WILL be back together. The very things that the Christ child represents for each of us -Light and Hope - are truly present!

We are very much aware of the stress that the past nine months has had on our pastoral leadership and other church staff. I ask that you consider offering the Sunday following Christmas, December 27th, to your pastor, music directors and other worship staff, as a respite from worship planning and leading. The Moderators and Staff of Hudson River will be offering a recorded worship experience of scripture, prayer and music for congregations to access on that day. Information is in PresbyNews – please contact Jean Kaiser if you are not on that mailing list. jean@hudrivpres.org

We all know by now that the church never closed. The buildings closed, but the church is alive! We have experienced God’s everlasting presence in so many ways throughout 2020. Christmas will come, however you celebrate the birth of Christ. The Indescribable Gift is for you!

Peace and continued blessings,

Deborah Milcarek, General Presbyter

Hudson River Presbytery