Sisters and Brothers,
The Christmas season and the end of the year are upon us. Hopefully you will find yourself with opportunities to celebrate the gift from God of entering the human condition. We proclaim that this entails a redemption of humanity and also shows that life on earth is good, not something to be avoided or abandoned. My hope is that you will experience God as you participate in office parties, family gatherings, gift exchanges, our Live Nativity, and other expressions of service, celebration, and giving.
At this time of year, I often think of so many people who have made my life what it is. Just this week I emailed a former professor about the positive role he played in my development as a pastor. I also look at the picture hanging on our refrigerator from my nephew and am filled with joy that he took the time to draw and send it to me. Our expressions of thanks and appreciation can be some of the most meaningful gifts we give at this time of year—don’t miss the opportunities! Christmas can be a wonderful time of reflection upon what we’ve been given, how we’ve done well, and what we should improve. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of reflection. I hope you will take the chance to reflect upon and thank someone for his or her positive influence in your life. A second aspect of reflection is that it helps us to orient our goals for the future.
This is also the close of 2010. Looking forward to 2011, what do you hope to do and be? I want to remind us all that Christianity is more than your mental belief and assent to certain statements about God and Christ. If you are one to make a New Year’s resolution, may I encourage you to consider a way that your faith might be deepened this year—either through knowledge and understanding or practice. Don’t accept the story so often told in our society that your religious faith is something private and personal, not to affect the rest of life. Instead, allow your core experience of God’s love to overflow in your use of time, money, opportunities, and challenges. We have a source of life and encouragement in Christ and the gathered community each week. We each go back and forth between being people who need to give and needing to receive. The wonderful thing is that when we live together as a committed community, it almost always balances out.
Merry Christmas as you celebrate the gift of Christ!
In His Peace,