Dear Parishioners and Friends,

What a wonderful Christmas celebration we were able to have, given all the restrictions we faced! Thank you, good people of St. Barnabas, for all you have done to prepare the way for the Birth of Christ this Christmastide. The buildings and grounds, of course, looked beautiful and the church was attractive to guest and veteran members alike. Our lay leaders and those on duty were gracious and genuinely excited, as were many members about getting back to worship in person and having the opportunity to sing carols, hold a lighted candle or receive Holy Communion. As festive signage on North Broadway exhorted, “Join us on Christmas Eve” and so many members and visitors did just that. The “pop-up” Nativity Pageant was well attended and joyful. I was very grateful to youngsters, Eliza Boozer and Ellie Knudson for providing the narration to what was a very well-received Nativity tableau, sheltered by the timelessly-elegant Lychgate and warmed by two impressive, blazing fire pits.

The late service worked well and flowed smoothly with the masked congregation gladly singing carols while the HD cameras, discreetly and powerfully live-streamed the service for members as far afield as Miami and all the way to Maine. The Altar Guild outdid themselves this year with a stunning Christmas array. The sanctuary, itself, is in “fine fettle” having been deep cleaned from top to bottom, all for the Glory of God! After extensive engineering work commenced in August, I am delighted to report that the air filtration system is constantly drawing in fresh air from the out-of-doors, while the new heating system creates a very airy and comfortable environment for worship. It is a triumph in terms of carbon-footprint reduction, and also in terms of meeting the goal of the project: to make St. Barnabas an inviting place to gather for twelve months of the year. Thank you all for your ongoing commitment to the good stewardship of our church, and for your generous support. The overwhelmingly successful pledge drive for 2022 is a testament to all we hold dear as a community of faith committed to the spiritual well-being of one another.

Finally, allow me to add another appreciative note to all that St. Barnabas means in the wider sense of bringing God’s mercy and love to bear in this world. Next week on the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany, we will welcome a refugee family from Afghanistan into their new home here in New York. This expression of Christ’s love has been made possible by the efforts of so many people: the almost forty volunteers from our church and our near neighbors in Christ at the Irvington Presbyterian Church, who are part of hands-on teams; the many Angels who have swooped in with financial support, including families from the Irvington Children’s Center and Good Shepherd School. Thanks to an overwhelmingly generous outpouring of love and support, the family’s basic needs will be more than fully funded for the whole year. It is a tremendous accomplishment and a testament to the ecumenical cooperation of two congregations committed to a common cause: making the ethical underpinnings of the Nativity story real and relevant locally, as a response to events of global significance and humanitarian need.

Wishing you all a blessed Christmastide, and a New Year filled with promise.

Faithfully yours,