Dear Friends in Christ,
I hope that you had a blessed Christmas season and that 2018 will be a year filled with light, hope, peace, joy, love and Christ’s presence for you and your loved ones. Adrian and I would like to thank you for the many cards and gifts that we received.
Since Thanksgiving, we have been thinking about the gifts that Christ brings us and pausing to notice the ways and times that we have perceived God’s presence with us. I heard tales of some of you giving unsigned gifts to some members of the congregation, especially to the widows in our midst. I arrived at church on Sunday morning December 24 to find some of those mystery gifts under the tree with a message to deliver them during the service. What a great way to give a bit of wonder and mystery and delight, and create a space for God’s love to enter in. We were all blessed that morning.
God is here with us and is making all things new. Sometimes God comes to us through the cries of a baby or the wisdom of a child. Or maybe it is a shepherd that God sends to watch over us. Or an angel in our lives who says, “do not be afraid.” Or an innkeeper showing us radical hospitality. Or a foreigner who offers us a strange gift. Or a neighbor bearing witness. God can come to us through the Joseph’s who step up as role-models and the Mary’s who say yes to the birthing of something new. God can even use Santa! But that is not the end of the story as Howard Thurman, an influential American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader wrote in this poem:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
We have some work to do! God is calling us to be the ones who bring and shine Christ’s light in the world. I am looking forward to seeing us participating in that work at Sierra Pines in 2018; we will begin the year by asking God some hard questions and reflecting on who we are, where we have been and where God is calling us to go.
Happy New Year!
— Pastor Joan