As Christmas is mere hours away now, our church has filled my heart yet again by your commitment and desire to be the kind of community in which Christ is proclaimed and the gospel lived!  I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed our Advent Bible Study this year!  It was so encouraging and exciting to have over 85 adults (of all ages, including their 35+ children) each week who took time out of their holiday schedule to share a meal and consider together how we might celebrate the birth of Christ more meaningfully and intentionally this year. Thank you for that gift!

In the homestretch of our Christmas preparation, it’s not too late to slow down and ‘behold’ the power of Christmas!  I beg you not to wake up on the 25th without having given a few minutes of thoughtful reflection on the profound themes of this celebration.  Our Advent wreaths remind us of the story behind the story and direct our reflections.  We look for the Hope of Christ: God has come, and will return again because He is not yet finished with us! We find comfort in the Peace of Christ: he comes to restore our souls and reconcile us to the God against whom we rebel all too often. We revel in the Joy of Christ: the angels announced good news of great joy because a Savior has been born to all of us. We receive the Love of Christ: the child whose birth we celebrate is God’s greatest act of love, given to the entire world without exception.  Hope. Peace. Joy. Love.

If you find yourself ‘stuck’ in an attempt to recapture the magic of Christmas from years gone by, perhaps these themes chart a path out of the wilderness for us. It’s not too late to experience the fullness of this season! We can still spend our time pointing toward hope, seeking peace with those with whom we have broken relationship, celebrating joyfully with our loved ones and reflecting the love of God in the way we give gifts. 

I will be praying specifically for you this week: I’m praying for those in our community who may have lost hope because the challenges of daily life or the grief of loss dimmed the ability to see what God is up to.  I’m praying for those who experienced a broken relationship with a loved one this year because I know how persistently this pain can hurt your heart. I’m praying for those who have lost sight of the joy of the gospel because your faith focused too much on the rules and not enough on the grace. I’m praying for those who don’t yet know they are loved- you have a home in the family of God.  The whole Christmas story is FOR YOU.

Look for ways- in these last few days- that you can reflect the meaning of Christmas in the way you celebrate this year!  I can’t wait to see you Sunday evening as we experience the fullness of Emmanuel- God with us!