From the Parsonage...
I was having a hard time writing something
uplifting for this month’s newsletter. After all, 2020
has hardly been a stellar year for anyone. For our
country, it’s been a time of loss…loss of incomes, loss
of family and friends, and loss of individual freedoms
as we’ve faced the results of a totally unexpected virus
that swept over our nation. For our church, it’s been a
challenge…a challenge to keep our doors open, a
challenge to provide alternative ways to worship, and
a challenge to keep our members connected during the
shutdown of normal activities. For me, personally, it’s been a test…a test of my patience, a test of my knowledge, and a test of my faith as I’ve tried to understand the reason for disappointments of many kinds.
November started off with an election that resulted in more ill will in an already divided nation and ended without the usual Thanksgiving events and family gatherings that normally start off our preparations for the Christmas season. At times, I wondered how I could possibly find joy in this year’s Christmas when I really just wanted to run away from it all!
But then I remembered the meaning of Christmas, that baby in the manger, the child that was sent to save the world from its sins. I thought about a young girl and a carpenter, two people who were willing to trust in God’s plan even when it seemed to make no sense and caused them many individual hardships. I realized the state of the world at the time wasn’t really so different from today. People are the same, generation after generation, and nations come and go, some good and some evil. If I’ve learned anything from the Bible, it’s the fact that “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Even though we often become discouraged with the times we live in and, especially, the people around us, we still have God’s promise to rely on. And He has proven that promise over and over during the centuries, continually forgiving His people when they repented and turned back to Him.
Then there came a time when God showed His great love by offering the ultimate sacrifice for those who could never live up to that love. He sent His own Son to earth to take on the sins of the world, offering everlasting life instead of everlasting death. He sent this Son to live as a man, resist all earthly sin, and conquer death for us…even though we didn’t deserve it. The birth of this Child was foretold by the prophets, celebrated by the shepherds, and worshiped by the wise men. He was sent at a time of great need through the great plan of God and without the understanding of the people He came to save. Unfortunately, many of them missed this Gift, because they were too blinded by their own desires to see the Truth.
During this Christmas season, I pray that we will open our hearts and minds to receive this Blessing once again. Let us put aside our doubt and fear, our anger and distrust, and our animosity toward those who disagree with us. Let us instead, focus on the love of family and friends and put our trust in the “Babe in the Manger.”
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory,
the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”