Merry Christmas!! As we travel through the twelve days of Christmas, my heart turns toward gratitude. For some reason, this felt like a really long December. How about you? There were many projects, challenges, and activities at work, home, and in the community. I felt, I must confess, the week before Christmas, a bit overwhelmed. I preached on Christmas morning specifically about obligations and how our life can become (perceived or in reality) a series of obligations to be fulfilled and joy can be pushed far out and away from us. And we can become worn down by the weight our life’s challenges which can feel like burdens.
But, as I walked into the church to prepare for the early service and looked at the beauty of our sanctuary, my heart began to soften. Then, I looked on at our children in the pageant, there smiles and hopes began to wash over me and joy came flooding at me. As we sang of Christmas angels and the little child of Bethlehem, my soul began to dance that gentle but powerful dance of knowing. I began to realize, once again, that I am – we are all – blessed to be living in the shadow of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Faith is not just a good thing but something that carries us through the peaks and valleys and offers us a window into the real joy of Christian hope; the knowledge that we are never in this walk by ourselves. So, as we prepare for the 1st Sunday after Christmas and have one more crack at our wonderful, festive hymns, let us be aware of the joy around us, the dawning of another year. We have an opportunity, in another year, to experience the joy of belonging more fully to God and allowing ourselves the satisfaction of knowing that we are His already. Our life is not an obligation to be endured but a blessing to be cherished, because God came down at Christmas.