After two years of COVID everybody is really ready for a return to normal, which may or may not come our way in 2022. Regardless of the circumstances in our community, however restrictive the state and county mandates, and mindful of the very real fears of many parishioners, we intend to march into the new year with confidence that our church’s best days are still ahead. We actually have good news and some great plans for the year ahead. Take a look:
New Message Series: We will kick off the year with an important new series that very much speaks to the times we find ourselves in. “Thieves of Joy” is all about effectively dealing with the external factors as well as the interior struggles that can rob us of well-being. More effective living comes from first of all identifying our joy in the Lord.
New Theatre Inauguration: Since last summer we have been working on a major technology installation in the former sanctuary, which we call the Theatre. We unveiled the results on Christmas Eve when the Theatre served as a video venue for Mass. But the real purpose of the space and the technology is to enhance our kids and student programs held there throughout the year. It will be fun to see how kids in Time Travelers and students in middle school and high school programs respond to what is now a truly amazing space.
“Attain” Workshop: Our small groups team will be hosting a conference for our own ministers as well as anyone from our community who wants to grow in leadership. “Attain” will help participants establish a foundation for Biblical success in four critical areas: Discovering their essentials, Determining their path, Developing their leadership and Deepening their heart. Our guest speaker will be none other than Steve Gladden from Saddleback Church.
The Annual Appeal: Each year, the Archdiocese asks us to take time to focus on the ministry and mission of the larger Church here in Baltimore and how we can offer support. It’s an important annual reminder that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and has an impact for good and great things throughout the city and across the state.
Seriously, God? This Lent is going to be a unique experience as we launch (at Nativity) our new book, “Seriously, God? Making Sense of Life Not Making Sense”. The book will form the basic content for both our church-wide message series and our small group Lenten curriculum. As part of the launch, we’re going to be giving away copies of the book (thanks to a kind donor) to everyone who is currently in a group, or will be joining one. Our publisher, Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame), is promoting a Lenten “kit” so that parishes across the country can easily lead their communities through the same program. The book and the entire Lenten program have the potential to touch and heal hearts and truly inspire participants.
Holy Week & Easter is always a special time around here. Although we haven’t yet worked out the schedule or any of the details, we promise it will be a time of faith (and provide some fun).
Springtime Celebrations: This season of the year brings two of the most beloved celebrations of the year: First Holy Communion for our kids and Confirmations among our high schoolers. While these celebrations were somewhat restricted for each of the last two years, we look forward to more festive gatherings this year.
“Growing Young” Cohort: Our Next Gen Team is participating in a national cohort through the Fuller Youth Institute that will meet quarterly for discussion, planning, and coaching around their “Growing Young” program. As a result, we will be increasing parent engagement, expanding students service across all ministries, and raising up leadership opportunities for teens.
Summer Projects: Since the schedule is lighter around here, we usually use the summer for capital projects, repairs, upgrades and improvements. We love our facilities and campus but they take “a lot of loving.” One project that I am especially looking forward to is something that we had originally planned in the construction of our new church but which unfortunately was dropped because of budget considerations. The plan is to provide lighting for our beautiful, hand-carved Stations of the Cross, which line the back wall of the sanctuary. The new lighting will make the pieces pop, highlighting their amazing artistry.
While much of the other summertime work will not be particularly notable, other projects, like an exterior signage program, will be immediately helpful (Baltimore County permitting!).
Fall & Christmastime
Fall Activities: Few definite plans have been formed for the fall of 2022, but we can count on some of the usual highlights. We typically offer three message series each fall (three just seem to work better for that time span). The first is usually lighter in tone, with a special focus on newcomers; the second more serious and challenging as the days get shorter and colder; and then our Advent series to round out the year. Two important weekends serve as bookmarks for the season: Kick-Off Weekend (September 10th & 11th) and Stewardship Sunday (November 19th & 20th).
Christmas Eve: The big question is going to be “Are we going back to the Cow Palace?” Of course, no one knows the answer to that. Circumstances next fall will dictate where we host Mass on Christmas Eve, but wherever we celebrate, it will be a wonderful experience.
One thing I think we can count on for Christmas of 2022 is our lighting display here on Ridgely Road. We offered this for the first time in 2021, in response to the lockdowns, and repeated it again this year. Moving forward, I would like to see this established as an annual tradition, and expand it each year.
Whatever obstacles or restrictions we may face in the coming year we are determined to have a great 2022: loving God, loving one another, and making disciples.