Greetings and may the grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all.
Entering November can be a stressful time in the life of the church and its members. The change in weather, the leaves beginning to drop, the change in day light and the way we mark time bring to mind thoughts of preparing for the holidays, with family gatherings, parties, presents, football, and all the other trappings of the season. In the church, along with thoughts of specials services, fellowship events, and the needs of those without food and shelter, our minds turn to budgets, electing officers, avoiding the nominating committee, and all the end of the year activities.
We are accustomed to struggling through all the busyness of the season and are sure to make the time on Thanksgiving to thank God for all the blessings we have received. We know that if we can survive the rush up to Christmas, we will have Christmas Eve (if there’s no blizzard) and perhaps Christmas day to remember that celebrating the birth of the Jesus is the really important event that we should be celebrating. Year after year we manage to make our way through the cycle, taking care of our holiday business, and for most of us, accomplishing the effort to include God, and Christ and the importance of our faith in real and important ways.
Truly, I am amazed at how so many of you seem to manage it so well. I am also proud of the way our faith community rises to the occasion every year, enjoying a truly festive, benevolent, and meaningful Christ-centered holiday season. We do what we need to do and we do it pretty well. But… where do you find the time to grow Spiritually? Most people are so focused on just surviving it all, both the religious and secular observances, that we have little time to reflect on what it all means to us personally.
These times of Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, all afford us wonderful opportunities to do more than survive, to really grow our faith. The events we commemorate were intended to move us closer to God, to transform us into a people more faithful and more Christ-like in all that we do. Indeed, the original Thanksgiving was a celebration of God’s blessings and was meant to pull the community back away from the concerns for basic survival, and return to creating a faith community whose very existence was dependent upon and sought to praise God. Our thanksgiving celebrations ought to do the same, they should transform our view of the world and help us to re-focus on God’s presence among us everyday. Likewise, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the event that transformed the world, ought to bring a transformative experience to our lives as well. The Immanuel, God with us, the Incarnation, God becoming one of us, ought to mean a great deal more to us than our usual survival experience. The holiday season, ought to be one that enables us to truly draw closer to God than ever before.
I hope that along with the festive aspects of the season, you will take the time to join us for an event that is more Spiritual in nature. Why not avail yourself of the Advent Prayer Day, taking some time out to pray for a deeper experience this season as you pray for the needs of others. This holiday cycle, break away from your usual rhythm, let this be the year in which you move beyond simply remembering the reason for the season. This year, let the full meaning of the season fill you as never before so that you may be transformed into a new creation by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Allow the spirit of the season open you to a deeper meaning to your Spiritual view of the season, so that Christ may be truly born anew in you.
May the peace and blessings of God, the joy of Jesus Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit be with you all, Mitch.