Our December TRIP

Advent is a season of expectation, the word itself meaning “coming.” The start of an Adventure. In the past, part of the adventure was planning for gatherings of friends and family. Children coming home from college. Grandparents coming for Christmas dinner. I remember as a child that these days of waiting seemed like a thousand years.

This year is quite different. If you are thinking of gathering with family or friends you could be putting people at risk, as the COVID – 19 cases are surging across the country. Right now, the advent waiting is waiting for the arrival of vaccines to bring a semblance of normalcy. I, for one, cannot wait to drive to my daughter’s new home in Millbrae or fly to visit my ailing mother in St. Joseph, MO.

However, if you think our waiting is tough, think of the prophet Isaiah. The first part of Isaiah is filled with warnings about the coming of God’s judgement. The people were putting their trust in shaky alliances. The people in the Southern Kingdom of Judah did not heed his words enough to avoid suffering, but they did heed them enough to survive Assyrian aggression. The northern kingdom of Israel did not heed their prophets and fell. The term, “the ten lost tribes” comes from the moment in history when the kingdom of Israel was overrun by the Assyrians and lost. 150 years later, the Babylonians were a threat. They invaded the Southern Kingdom and Judah fell. The elites of the nation were taken into exile. Waiting for 40 years, they longed for home. The second half of Isaiah, beginning with chapter 40, is filled with words of encouragement.

Judgement had come. The people had suffered. Now was a time to lift spirits and bring comfort. The penalty of their wrongs had been paid. God would provide a way home. In fact, a super highway would be built with vegetation along the road side.

Are you in need of encouragement? The way home for people is unsure this Christmas. My daughter and mother are likely out of reach for me until spring. There is comfort in the words of Isaiah. Even though “All people are grass and . . . the grass withers, the flower fades; the word of our God will stand forever…God will gather the lambs in his arms.”

A true help in finding our way home is through prayer. I urge you to try a TRIP prayer for the 40 days of this season. Pray each day as a TRIP:

  T – For what am I Thankful? Start with acknowledgement of God’s providence in your life.

  R – What do I Regret? The people of Israel and Judah had much to regret. In Israel’s case it brought an end to their kingdom. But Judah was able in the end to repent, move beyond guilt and find a way home. Isaiah’s encouragement is for us to find a way home.

I – Intercession-for whom do I need to pray? See our list below.

P – What is my Purpose or Plan? Mother Mary will show us a way to embrace our calling.

Do you have memories of Christmas that bring you home? I remember my father teaching me the song “What Child is This” in between Christmas eve services. In the midst of the rush of Christmas which he experienced as a pastor, yes, he was a pastor also, he took time to teach me a song that was dear to him. He passed on something dear to him to me. I remember that feeling of that song wonder and hope.

There may not flights to family or parties with friends or caroling to shut-in’s or our Faith Christmas party or Santa at the preschool, but there is a way home. Pause in prayer and remember to be grateful for Christmas past and present and release any regrets. Embrace the words of Isaiah 40:11 “He will feed his flock like a Shepherd.”

NOTE NEW TIME:  See you Sunday at 10 am this week, if you can make it. If not, we are on Youtube either with the link I send or on the website under Sunday Services.


Grace and Peace,              Pastor John Bunge

PS   In starting your TRIP prayers this advent, a suggestion is to pray through the alphabet with a grateful heart, “A” for apples or aunt ____ “B” for Pastor Bunge or _____ for example. Normally we do not need help remembering regrets.

Pantry – our next pantry day is this Saturday, December 12th. We have turkeys a plenty. We could use some pasta sauce and canned tuna.


  • Glenda Kirker is having surgery December 1st, perhaps cancer.
  • Geri is feeling relieved, pneumonia not COVID.
  • Thanks for your prayers of thanks for erwin’s son who is coming home, continue prayers for Lynda.
  • Michael Shea’s daughter, Rebecca, requesting prayer as she ponders her future.
  • Carol Jensen’s Great-grandson, six-year-old, Jameson Collins, who just came through a diagnostic procedure.
  • Becky Malinowski continues her treatments for a reoccurrence of cancer and is doing well with them.
  • Carol Fultz’ sister, Barbara Colangelo, who lives in NJ, underwent surgery, to amputate her leg from just below the knee. She now has COVID.
  • Nelsonand Karen’s friend, Mike, is disabled and on dialysis.
  • Pastor John’s Mother, Myrene, age 99, is in the hospital with difficulties eating.



  • THANKS to the Bunges for working with their son, Eric, and the Inland Valley Habitat to donate three gazebos to be used as a shelter in the concrete area between the Sanctuary and the Fireside room where we hold worship services.
  • Thanks to Glen Egerstom and his son, Alex, and members of our Oak Glen camp for putting together the wooden Gazebo and to Lou and Debi Hitter and grandson, Bryce, and Joe Koenig and pastor for putting together the metal Gazebo. This makes a wonderful shelter for our Christmas service. I will send out photos in a separate email of the crew and completed Gazebos.
  • We are continue working on the landscaping in front of the church.


New Worship Time beginning December 6, we will move our service to 10:00 am to hopefully enjoy more warmth. As always, do make your best decision about whether to join us for worship outdoors. We send out a link to the service and as always it will be on our website. I have heard some have difficulty with this link. You can also check out our website under Sunday Services.