Dear Members and Friends of Grace,
“Is this ever going to end?” During the past nearly two years we have individually and collectively said these words as we talked about the pandemic. Just a few weeks ago, we were beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, but now we are not so sure. Throughout our lives, we have undoubtedly uttered that phrase on many occasions. As children, we kept looking at the clock on the classroom wall, hoping that the dismissal time would arrive sooner than we knew it was going to. Then, as we aged, we experienced other unpleasant things that we thought would never end – health issues, family conflicts, money problems, etc. Many, if not all, of those dark times have come and gone. Deep down inside we knew that those things would come to an end eventually and brighter days were ahead. However, some of those endings may not have happened as we expected or would have liked. The ending may still be on the horizon – it is almost there but we can’t tell how far down that dark road the light is shining. Sadly, some people are still in the midst of dealing with some unpleasant things and are losing patience as they navigate through the darkness.
We know the Christmas story. With our mind’s eye we can picture that first Christmas. We see the stable, animals, angels, shepherds, Joseph, Mary, a manger, and the baby Jesus. However, that is not the whole Christmas story. That is only a snapshot in time. The story began long before that moment and would continue after they left that place in time.
The Old Testament is filled with stories of people asking, “Is this ever going to end?” There are stories of war, sickness, captivity, being lost, and personal conflicts. Generations of people wondered where God was and whether God was going to act to bring those difficult times to an end.
Christmas reminds us that God is with us in our lives. When we think that we are all alone in the darkness and that no one is there who can hear our cries, Christmas reminds us that God does hear the people’s cries and comes to us through people we would not expect, in places that we would not look, and in a form that we don’t always recognize. At Christmas and throughout the year, we should picture that stable scene. It serves as a reminder that God listens and does break through the darkness that is in our lives and in the world around us.
We thank God for the work of the Church and the many faithful followers – past, present, and future. All of us are blessed by God, and we are called to be a blessing to others. What are some ways in which you can keep this Christmas story going and shine the light of Christ in dark places – yes, during this Christmas season but also after we have left this Christmas season? If you have had the experience of the light of Christ coming into dark times in your life, share that light of Christ with others who are still stumbling through darkness.
Mary and Joseph took Jesus out of the stable and into the world. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he encouraged everyone to have that same outward focus of love of God and love of neighbour. Christ walks with us in the world and helps us find ways of sharing that same message of hope and love with others. Please join me as we remember that first Christmas as we gather as a congregation this Christmas season. Then, like Mary and Joseph, let’s move outside of that stable, with Jesus, as we go into the world sharing love and hope with all.
Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Rick (sig.)
The Rev. Richard A. Kwiatkowski, MDiv., ThM.