by Racquel Ray, Assoc. Minister (Acting)
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
With our lives so complicated in these challenging days, it is SO GOOD to hear these familiar words. The past two years have been full of loss, grief, trauma, and uncertainty. Our healthcare workers are exhausted and depleted in every aspect of human wellness. Teachers and educators have found creative solution to impossible requests. Students have found daily resiliency through the changing modes of academia. First responders have seen more than their share of trauma. We have spent time in isolation from loved ones, distanced but not distant. We have lost too many seniors and WWII Veterans.
And, we don’t know what the next year will bring – more of the same? Or, major changes? These are uncertain times indeed.
But. THIS CHRISTMAS, we have each other. We have these familiar words of joy and comfort from Luke’s Christmas Story. We have built a resilient, thriving, and growing church community. We have found innovative ways to minister to each other and care for one another. We have fed the hungry, sheltered the housing insecure, cared for the widow and orphan, and nurtured our young. We have found ways to make meaning and community – as a community. This Christmas, we have the gift of community and two wonderful celebrations of the Christmas Story!
4 – 5 pm Christmas Story Stroll – outdoors, family friendly, accessible, and safe.
8 pm Lessons and Carols – in the sanctuary
Let us continue to grow through these challenging days come what may. Honor and grief the challenges we have come through. And celebrate with Joy, THIS CHRISTMAS, the God who broke into the human timeline, joining humanity to heaven, and bringing us the thrill of HOPE.
May God Bless you all – THIS CHRISTMAS.