December 3, 2020
Welcome to the weekly update of the Rappahannock River District of the UMC 
 Lost Under the Bright Lights

We are afraid that this year’s Advent will get Lost Under the Bright Lights of COVID-19. Please do not get us wrong. This human tragedy is felt by each of us, and the emotional and psychological toll cannot be denied. Nonetheless, there is hope because we believe that God is working in disguise and out of a chaotic situation to bring healing and restoration not just to a fearful and anxious world, but also to suffering humanity. Despite these salient points, just as God worked out of darkness and chaos to speak Light into a dark and shapeless world, God can speak light into this unusual season of the unknown. Let us not get lost Under the Bright Lights of Uncertainty.

We often wonder about the order of creation and the significance of the first thing that God created – light (Genesis 1:3, CEB). What does it mean for us theologically? Is it possible that God created light so that humanity might see and know of God’s creation? If this assertion is true, then we have hope. Interestingly, we lit the first Advent Candle on Sunday – The Candle of Hope. Hope is like a light shining in a dark place (John 1:5). We hope and pray that the ultimate Light will shine in the dark places of our lives during this Advent Season.   

Not only do we pray for hope, but we also pray for peace. This Sunday, we will light the second Advent Candle – The Candle of Peace. This candle reminds us of the peace we have in Jesus. This is the kind of peace that allows us to trust in God’s promises through restful, tranquil faith, despite the dark, scary world around us (Isaiah 40:1). We, therefore, pray for peace during this Advent Season as we reflect upon the prophecy of comfort and the accompanying hope of salvation through Jesus, our symbol of Peace (Mark 1:4, CEB).

Salvation is possible through the gift and love of Jesus Christ. This gift brings joy to our hearts. And so, on the third Sunday of Advent, we will light another candle - The Candle of Joy. How do we prepare ourselves to embrace and celebrate this gift of joy? Let us be reminded of the relationship between the Word and God. The Word functions in creation. The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us (John 1:1-8, 19-28, CEB). During this Advent Season, we must thank God for the Word because it is through the love of God that we experience such joy.

Through the Word of God that brings us joy, we can experience peace. On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we will light a fourth candle – The Candle of Peace. Peace is expressed in God’s plans for us. Whereas John the Baptist came to prepare the way (people), Jesus will lead the way (people). John’s mission was temporary, but Jesus’ kingdom will have no end (Isaiah 40:1-11). To us, the above are reasons to have peace in the midst of our human-made obstacles.

In preparation for God’s coming kingdom, God overturned many human-made obstacles, biases, and prejudices of the time – Mary was youthful at a time when the world revered age. Mary was a woman in a society that was dominated by men. Mary was poor at a time when wealth was the measure of success (Luke 1:26-38). When we look at our world today, where can we find the courage and strength to free ourselves from the human-made obstacles, biases, and prejudices of our time and still have peace? Do we feel Lost Under the Bright Lights of the things of the day?

We may feel that we are not making the big news headlines? But each day you are making headlines through your work in your ministry setting. Through Charge Conference, we can bear witness to many glimpses of God’s grace through your witness to God’s people. And while these may not make the daily headline news, they certainly make the headline news for Christ because you are fulfilling the gospel (Matthew 25:35-40, CEB).

We invite you to continue to believe that together we can find the courage and strength in Jesus because on Christmas Sunday, we will light a candle – The Christ Candle, that reminds us of the light Jesus brings to the world. This light can free us from despair, darkness, and chaos. This light can free us from human-made obstacles, biases, and prejudices. This light is The Light. So, let us not get Lost Under the bright lights of the world and bury our heads in the hand that life has dealt to us. Rather, let us approach this Advent Season with optimism and as a resurrection community of believers, knowing that we can rise above our adversity. Happy Advent.


Blessings to you! 
Charles
 

Virginia Conference Forum on In-Person Worship on December 3 at @7 p.m.
Clergy, healthy church teams, and church members have shown grit and resilience throughout the Virginia Annual Conference as we continue to worship during the pandemic. Many churches have made successful, even inspiring returns to in-person worship. For others, it remains most appropriate to worship exclusively online or via telephonic services. The wonderful thing is that we are worshiping safely during this particularly challenging time. We are all looking for wisdom and best practices.

On Thursday, December 3, from 7:00-8:00 p.m., these issues are part of an online forum with Bishop Sharma Lewis, Chancellor Steve Brown, District Superintendent Alex Joyner, and four pastors who have been conducting in-person worship:

The Rev. Beth Anderson, Courthouse Community UMC, Virginia Beach

The Rev. Walter “B” Failes, Thrasher Memorial UMC, Vinton

The Rev. Seungsoo “RJ” Jun, Raleigh Court UMC, Roanoke

The Rev. Chris McLain, Shady Grove UMC, Short Pump

The information and experiences shared at this event should be particularly helpful as we enter Advent and as COVID-19 cases are rising. Bishop Lewis sent a separate letter on November 25 to the conference about continuing to worship in person during Advent and Christmas despite the increase in COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

To register for the December 3 online event, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0iigECe5RhOvGHeQq88xpQ. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. To ask questions during the event, please e-mail Alex Joyner at easternshoreds@vaumc.org.
Antioch UMC & Sheriff's Office Make a Difference
Antioch-Stafford UMC began a connection with the Stafford County Sheriff's office a few months ago when we initiated Virginia Speaks 2.0. Once we got going, there was no turning back for our Food Pantry volunteers. So, today a few deputies from the Sheriff's office came over to help distribute regular food plus Thanksgiving dinner food. This is a priceless blessing during a time when it seems we are stymied by the pandemic. 
Irvington FALL BAZAAR
Irvington UMC Fall Bazaar open by appointment only following social distancing guidelines. Please contact Audrey Lowery at (804) 438-6122 or alowery1012@gmail.com
to schedule an appointment to shop. The bazaar gift shop will be open for sales on December 5 from 9-12.
S/PPR Chairs -Preference Forms were emailed out November 2. They are due Jan. 13, 2021.

If you didn't receive the email, please check with your pastor or let Lynn know (rappahannockriverdistrict@vaumc.org).


Save the Date:
S/PPR Zoom Training - Saturday, February 27 10:00am
Mary Washington Campus Christian Community Fundraiser Announced

Our students are very thankful for the opportunity to learn more about faith, and find the CCC a welcoming place that they can come and be in community with one another. I hear consistently how much the CCC means to the students who come here!

We are asking for donations to the CCC so that we can continue ministering to the students of the University of Mary Washington. Every little bit helps, and makes a difference in our ministry to college students.

There are three tiers of sponsorship for individuals, they are: Bronze: $50, Silver: $100, and Gold: $200

Please send all checks to the CCC (1213 Dandridge Street Fredericksburg, VA 22401, and if you need more information please contact us at the CCC and we would love to help you.You can visit our website at campuschristiancommunity.com to learn more about our ministry. Once again, we are so thankful for you and the way you have financially supported the CCC in the past.

Peace, 
Elizabeth Snader 
Campus Minister 
Campus Christian Community”
  CONTACT INFORMATION

District Superintendent: Rev. Charles F. Ledlum-Bates, Ph.D.
DS Cell: 804.724.0202

2020 District Co-Lay Lay Leader:

2020 District Co-Lay Leader:

Lay Servant Director: Rev. Kevin Elmore kevinelmore@vaumc.org
Heartwood Director: Rev. Gayle Porias gayleporias@vaumc.org
Crossroads Minister: Rev. Mark Roscoe markroscoe@vaumc.org
Youth Coordinator: TJ Oliver, rrdyouth@vaumc.org
Office Manager: Lynn Manley rappahannockriverdistrict@vaumc.org
Cell 804.304.8566
Administrative Assistant Connie Devenport conniedevenport@vaumc.org


Mailing Address: PO BOX 100, Ladysmith, VA 22501 Phone   804.448.8326
Office Location: Inside Wright’s Chapel UMC at 8063 Ladysmith Road, Ruther Glen, VA (do not use for mail)