Dear friends in Christ,
Twelve days. In less than two weeks, we have been there as the angel appeared to Mary and Joseph in separate moments, Herod called for a census forcing Joseph and Mary to leave their homes and go to Bethlehem where the child was born in a manger. Then followed visits from the shepherds and wise men. Finally, Joseph would be visited once more by an angel in a dream, and be told to leave with Mary and Jesus and travel to Egypt until Herod had died.
Christmas is more than remembering Jesus being born in a manger. Christmas is about God breaking into our world, our lives, and changing everything! We see God differently, as one who comes and asks us to be vessels for His love, and to let that love take us away from home, into the unknown. All against the backdrop of living in the world. In the world of Herod, or even in the world of COVID.
As we enter this new year, we look back and realize how much COVID has changed our lives. And now, how we will respond to it, hopefully against the backdrop of these past twelve days. Our lives, our relationships, have been threatened. Yet, more so than usual, we are reminded this Christmas how God enters our lives and offers the gift of hope through His love.
Through these past months, we have resisted the temptation to feel beaten down, or powerless. As a congregation we have asked what can we do to still be the Church? We have gone virtual, we have discovered in the midst of a pandemic our presence has extended far beyond what we thought it was. The number of people who have watched the Christmas Eve service, or the Service of Remembrance is well over 250 each! We have done more than survive thus far, we have risen! And in rising, we have discovered there are people out there who are hungry for the Good News, the Good News we are sharing.
Now a vaccine is on the horizon. Some are already receiving it. We can see a day when our doors will be open once more. But before that happens, I am going to challenge all of us. Will we return to where we came from, or will we continue a journey with Christ, and be a people born anew this Christmas, bringing gifts of love and life to the world? And not just the world around our neighborhood in Rapids, but the world that is reached by electronic communication? There is a new evangelism out there for us to embrace. And I ask you, is it our time to embrace a new identity shaped by the experience of Christmas during COVID? If we do, what will it look like?
After all that has happened it is safe to say we will never be the same. It is up to us to decide if that is a sentence or a promise to embrace.