Did you realize that last week’s pastor’s letter was the 40th letter I have written since the beginning of March? I could not have imagined when I wrote that first letter, that I would still be writing 40 weeks later. The number 40 is an important biblical number, appearing 146 times in God’s Word. 40 often refers to a time of trial and testing, like the 40 days of rain that floods the earth, 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and 40 days Jesus fasts in the desert. When we look at those biblical times of trial, it is easy to focus on the struggle. But take a moment to see what God is doing in each of those ‘40s’. Can you ‘see’ the Ark floating in that flood, the manna and quail given to feed the people in the wilderness, the strength and clarity given to Jesus in the desert? Those ‘40’ moments give us opportunity to ‘see’ beyond the trial to what God is doing in their midst. That is the invitation today… to ‘see’ God at work even in these challenging days, and to imagine sharing in that good work.
So… I am wondering, what are you seeing today?
I am fascinated by the news media’s intentionality these days. Each night the newscast begins with “grim” news… numbers… suffering… fear… isolation. Then they move to the possibilities… vaccinations… political progress… If you are like me, I would like to see more possibilities more quickly, but any progress is heartening. Then at the end of the newscast, they report a sweet, positive story… a pre-teen making masks… a police department escorting a 10-year-old cancer patient to his treatment (with lights and sirens)… a group of musicians serenading front line workers… a restaurant giving away meals they cannot serve indoors right now. I think they want us to have hope in the midst of the struggle.
So… I am wondering what you are seeing today?
I have been listening to the conversations we are having these days. Often the discussion is about the challenges of the day… of unrest and political infighting… of limitations that are impacting our lives… of those who are hurting… and those who are lonely. How often have we been just spectators to the challenges others face in the world? But today we are all impacted in some way by a pandemic and social unrest, by politics and economics. There is plenty about which we could complain. But the other night, I listened to the conversation of your Elders at the Session meeting. They were marveling at your generosity and the many ways that we have been able to help our neighbors during this time because of your sacrifice. Again and again, we were overwhelmed by all that God is doing in you and through you. You are living witnesses to God’s goodness. Your example changed the tone of our conversation to hope.
An old Chinese proverb reads: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” This Christmas I invite you to light a candle! Sing a carol! Tell the story of the Savior’s birth again! Call a friend! Write a note! Be God’s bright, hopeful light this Christmas!
Merry Christmas to all … and to all a good night!!!!!