12-20-2018 – e-News

A Note from Pastor Jim
As I write this note Christmas is just 5 days away! 5 days!
Like you, I’m sure this time of year is always filled with a number of unique and special tasks and events, Christmas choir concerts, open houses, parties and family gatherings of one kind or another. Gifts are exchanged. Tons of cookies and wonderful food is shared. Smiles and generosity can be seen all around us
Like the song says, it may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it can also be stressful or even hard.
A few minutes ago I heard the sad news that one of my friends just got some bad news about her ongoing battle with cancer. Her husband said, “It is so easy to get complacent and forget it is there, or at least that it is life-threatening.” I know that they will be thinking and praying through that news over Christmas and beyond.
I also just finished writing notes to many friends I know who have lost close loved ones this year. I know that losing people is nothing new. I also know that the first holiday season after that loss can be especially difficult. None of that is novel information. However, I am experiencing what that loss is like personally in ways I simply never have before. Like all of you who are still grieving the loss of a loved one, I know we will be feeling an emptiness this year. I sure will.
It’s at times like these that we must hold both realities at the same time: the wonderful happiness with the people and events we experience and the heavy burden of the pain and loss we still bear. It’s not always easy to do both, but I am learning more and more that God gives us the strength to do just that.
We have been talking about that very thing this entire Advent season …
We talked about a joy that comes to us as a gift from God. It’s not tied to the ups and downs of life and it’s not something we conjure up through our own self-discipline or good luck. This enduring state of well-being is a change in our heart, produced by the Holy Spirit, because of what Jesus has done and is doing in us.
We have talked about the supernatural reality of having peace with God that produces an inner calm and equilibrium, no matter the circumstances of life. Amazingly, that peace with God even makes it possible for us to pursue peace with others.
We talked about true hope residing in what Jesus has done, is doing, and what he promises yet to do!
And this Sunday, we are going to celebrate the reality that in Jesus we can be fully known and truly loved.
Knowing and experiencing those truths helps to ground us in the reality we live in – good or bad, happy or sad. It helps us be true to everything in our lives, truly celebrating on the one hand while also being able to still be honest about our losses on the other.
I hope these promises from God will anchor you this Christmas!
With much love!
Pastor Jim
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