From the Pastor’s Desk: December 2023

ChurchNews & Events, Pastor's Blog

From the Pastor's Desk

Greetings, St. John UCC and St. Philip’s UCC!

A year ago, we were all holding our breath as we took a big leap of faith into the unknown of shared ministry and video sermons… and at one of the busiest times of the year: Advent! As we prepared for the birth of Christ, we were figuring out technology and schedules and all the things.

As I was untangling a mess of Christmas lights last week, I thought about how all those “hit the ground running” things to figure out last Advent season was kind of like a jumbled-up mess of Christmas lights. We worked our way through them, replaced a few bulbs, tossed a strand or two in the trash, looped and relooped and relooped again trying to untangle a few knots, and made a few emergency Target runs to get a few new strands (and more extension cords!) to add to the mix. When all was said and done, the lights glowed in a beautiful (and twinkly!) display of colors, shining brightly like the light of Christ in the world. Last year, even with a few tangles lingering, a few bulbs still out, a strand you had to wiggle every now and then to keep it lit up — it was still a beautiful display of light. Christ was born and an ever greater and more urgent hope for peace on earth was instilled in us all.

Whatever our Advent preparations, whether for a new ministry endeavor, untangling lights, baking cookies, shopping for and wrapping presents, decking the halls, or keeping the cat away from the tree — whatever it is we do to prepare for Christmas, at the heart, what really matters, is that Christ is born. If you burn the cookies, forget a present, give up on a jumble of Christmas lights, or even have a tech glitch in worship, thank God none of that will stand in the way of the birth of Christ! None of that will overshadow the bright light of God’s love shining throughout all of creation through Jesus. None of that, even if we don’t create an Instagrammable picture-perfect Christmas, will stop Jesus from saving the world.

Advent is a season of preparation, of watching and waiting, of anticipating and wondering. It’s also often a busy season of getting ready for all things Christmas, in all the traditions and expressions we’ve come to experience Christmas together. As you untangle your lights this season — whatever those lights may be for you (actual Christmas tree lights, lights tinged with grief, lights full of anxiety, lights that frenetically flash with busyness, or lights holding whatever feels tangled up for you this season…) — may you do so with tenderness and grace, knowing that the joy of Christmas, the gift of God’s love coming to earth in a tiny babe, will come whether or not you finish untangling by Christmas morning.

In God’s infinite love for us all, God came to dwell among us in creation in the person of Jesus. Born in
a manger, Jesus would grow up to teach us about God’s great love for us, and how we can respond to that with love for our neighbors. The greatest story ever told, it’s a story that begins with a tiny baby born in Bethlehem. Let’s hear that story anew this year together, and let’s wonder about the incredible gift of grace we all receive through it.

A year later, we’re still untangling, but we’re making progress! It’ll just keep getting even more beautiful as we keep working at it! Advent blessings, friends. May your own untangling keep getting even more beautiful as you work at it too!

Merry Christmas! Christ is born! Hallelujah!

Watching and Waiting (and Untangling),
Pastor Laura