“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” (Luke 2:14)
The Christmas season is always a time of mixed emotions for most of us. We spend a lot of time picking out that special gift for our family and friends. We often have parties to go to where we see people we haven’t seen in a while. We get to sing our favorite Christmas carols for too many weeks, remembering when we first heard them and who we were with. It is an exciting time of year filled with anticipation and joy for most of us.
Then there are those other moments when we remember who is missing from our holiday scene. It really doesn’t matter whether we have been without someone for twenty years or just a few weeks, Christmas tends to open our hearts to remembering those we are missing and washing our memories in a few tears. We also cannot help but notice others who are having these same moments and we want to reach out and hug them. Do not resist this instinct.
This is the season of the “Annual Christmas Letter” that so many of us write to re-cap the year just past and to look forward to the year about to begin. It is an appropriate time for this exercise as we celebrate new life born in a manger and a future filled with a promise made by God. Maybe it is these letters that help us to put things in perspective. We can always find someone whose life seems to be better or worse than ours; we can always read something that makes us smile; we can probably realize that we humans are a fascinating bunch and we’re all in this together – doing the best we can with what we’ve got.
As I sit here today to write my annual Christmas letter to you, I can think of things that make me smile and others that make me sad. I remember the joyful times when new people have joined our fellowship and the difficult times we have said goodbye to those we love. There are those wonderful moments when plans come together and things go just the way we want them to and then there are the frustrations when plans fall apart and we realize that we could have done so much better. Laughter, tears, joy, and sadness; satisfaction and frustration; assurance and uncertainty; these are some of the words that come to mind when I look back on 2012 and forward into 2013. So, here is my Christmas letter to you today:
Thank you! Thank you for your care and support. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the mission of the church. Thank you for putting forth your very best every day to go where God leads you. I know that it is not always easy to “be the church.” I admire your willingness to keep going even when it is challenging. I see the faces of our children and youth who benefit from your generosity. I have seen people’s lives transformed because of mission projects you have worked on. I notice the light of understanding when somebody “gets it” because of a lesson you have taught in one of our classes. I rejoice when someone wants to be part of our church because you have welcomed them and made them part of our family. I thank God every day for bringing me to this wonderful community of faith and I am humbled to be your pastor.
This year Linda and I wish all of you a blessed and joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year. We know that some of you will have a difficult holiday this year and we cry with you. We also know that the promise God makes is still true for all of us. “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
Pastor Don and Linda