The children’s message for Dec. 13, 2020, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Red Wing explained how Christmas lights on trees and elsewhere are traditional because Christ is the “light of the world.” (Perhaps that phrase will yet appear in one of their online Advent calendar verses — no peeking ahead allowed.)

Clear lights and white flowers decorated the two trees in church visible behind Pastor Peter.

The screen I was watching at home during a beautifully harmonious duet displayed words about true hearts and glory.

The sermon talked about nine elements of a “triple triad” based on the scripture readings. We can’t do it just by ourselves, but we’re to try to at all times be full of joy, prayer and thanks. The goal is to be complete in “spirit, soul and body.” To do that, we are to be careful not to deprive the spirit of the fuel it needs to thrive or let it be diminished with slights and mistreatment.

We are to “test everything,” so we can “hold onto what is good.” This is a process to keep our focus on God — looking to both “the manger and the sky.”

Looking to the earth as the sermon was winding down in real-time, a big white dog with a spring in its step, curl in its tail and a companion on another leash made its way past the park across the street from St. John’s, heading up hill.

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There was a faint echo of voices during the unison prayer. Part of the melody played on the piano for a song with lyrics that I believe include “ransomed souls” and “rejoice” was a series of single notes high on the treble clef.

Those of the Wisconsin synod fellowship who came forward to commune were reminded to safely distance.

Announcements included an online hymn sing on Thursday encouraging requests, and a reminder to sign up for in-person Christmas Eve services, which will also be broadcast online.

I have been in the church building a few times — for lunch in the basement, a historical society tour of the sanctuary and a worship service advertised because of the visiting choir. We’ve also enjoyed watching the rapid descent of the nesting swifts into the chimney behind the steeple.

In this season of chimneys and steeples, may our bodies step lively, our spirits take flight and our souls find light to reflect.