The True Source of Hope

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14   

Your Christmas preparations likely look a bit different this year, but I do hope this year-end letter finds you healthy and preparing in whatever new ways you can to share this Holy season with those you love—even if it can’t be in person.  

While 2020 has been anything but normal, perhaps we can each find some normalcy in pursuing family traditions and planning for the new year no matter our situation. It is a unique time in all our lives, and I sense that everyone is eager for the hope and promise that the new year always brings.  

Perhaps there’s no better time to experience true hope and the promises of God than the Advent-Christmas season.  

The word advent means “coming.” Exactly what, or rather who, is coming seems to have been lost in most of the modern-day preparations that we see taking place this time of year.  An outsider looking in might believe it has something to do with post-Thanksgiving sales bargains designed to grab our attention, promising benefits to our lives if we just had the shiny new thing.  

As people of faith, we know that nothing could be further from the truth. In the Christian tradition, the Advent season is most familiar to us as the time when we prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus.  Advent is also a time for repentance and watchfulness as we prepare for Jesus’ second coming that is promised us in Scripture.  

The Gospel of John reminds us that this child born in a lowly stable is no ordinary child…the Word became flesh and lived among us. No ordinary child indeed. This is Emmanuel. God is with us!  

God’s arrival is a certainty. God promises us that no amount of fear or uncertainty, no personal problem, no family challenge, and certainly no global pandemic will keep God from showing up on time and in each of our lives. For the light of the world always shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it!  

This year, despite the challenges of a global pandemic, we witnessed hope and the gifts of God come to life for our Thornwell family. We adapted our servicesto meet the needs of the children and families we serve in new ways, providing meals and much-needed activity kits and structured family time for many in our community.  

Children and youth served on our residential campus adapted to new ways of learning as our programs observed strict social distancing and cleaning protocols, and staff quickly and seamlessly adapted to working remotely when possible.  

We shifted our annual Foster Care Conference to a virtual platform and saw our attendance and engagement with our Foster Care mission skyrocket in comparison to years past.  

Our Building Families program transitioned from providing in-home services to providing virtual and telehealth services in safe and secure ways that allowed us to continue to serve those families who need us most.  

As we take time to reflect upon the gifts and opportunities to serve that we have experienced this year, may we all remember that in Christ’s birth, we experience God’s greatest gift of love to all humanity—God’s gift to us all!   

You have blessed the children and families in our care this year with your gifts of love and support.  We thank you and give thanks to God for you for joining us as we walk alongside the children and families we serve!   

Thank you for your support of our mission to build strong families—one child, one family, one community at a time. May God’s rich gifts of peace and love bless you and your family this Christmas season and always.  

In God’s Peace,  

Elliot Smith


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