December 2018

From Pastor Tim
Every year at this time a powerful light emerges in the heavens. I often notice it in the mornings as I retrieve the
newspaper; now that it stays dark longer, it’s easier to see. If I remember my astronomy from college, it’s Venus,
a white light that seems to rise just before the Sun. We see it more clearly because of the length of the
darkness, and the pitch of the earth. It becomes a reminder of the season, that in the midst of darkness God
always seems to shine a light for us. No one will be warmed by the light of Venus, certainly not as warm as
what the Sun provides. Yet for some of us the light is another sighting of God’s miracles in creation, and how
much we must rely on God in our lives. It can warm our hearts, especially when it engages us with the Covenant
that Abraham experienced.
This year our Chancel Choir will be singing the cantata, “Darkness into Light.” It invites us to, “Come into the
light of a Savior. Come into the light of a King. Son of God, Redeemer; to Him the angels sing: ‘Glory to God in
the highest.’ Princes to Him we bring. Follow the light of our Savior! Come to the light of our King!” We live in a
dark world, darkened by violence, fear, competition, hatred, and neglect. At this time of year we gather the
courage of Christ into our hearts and lift up the light of the Lord. Most all of us need that now more than ever,
lest we be defined by, and live in despair. The darker the times, the stronger and brighter the light shines into
our hearts. It is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did
not overcome it.” John 1:5 God wants us to live by his light.
Or another passage that in my heart is its companion, “You are the light of the world…No one after lighting a
lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but (places it) on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In
the same way, let your light shine so that they…may give glory to God the Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14a,
15-16 During every Advent there is a mini-wrestling match that goes on in our hearts. We want to get to Christmas
right away, like children who want to open their presents and just can’t wait. Yet the great joy is found in
anticipation and preparation. In our preparation, we see (just a little bit of) how much, how deeply God loves
us through God’s long preparation of Christ’s coming. How we prepare to receive Jesus into our hearts, can
be found in the ways we are open (or not) to opening our hearts to welcome people new to us, into our
hearts, lives, and fellowship.
This season we have a lot to celebrate about our fellowship’s life. We have a lot of ways to engage and share
God’s light beyond our worship services. We have three new groups that have started that offer increased
opportunities to share friendship in fellowship with Christ; a parent group that is calling itself 2030, for the year
the children will graduate, is meeting on Mondays at least once a month; the parents hope that the children
will get to know each other and develop good friendships that will bless them in the years ahead. A Men’s
group that will be meeting about twice a month on Thursday evenings has also started. Additionally we’ve
been hosting a third group, almost every Tuesday morning, that seeks to help us heal from grief. This group has
been meeting in the home of a generous parishioner, and will move into the church during the holidays, as we
open it up and extend a wider invitation to more people outside our church as we invite others to join us in
dealing with grief during the holidays.
As in years past, we also will have postcards available for everyone to take and send and share with family,
friends, and neighbors. The cards help us invite people to join us for our cantata and Christmas Eve services.
Please be sure and pick up a dozen or so when you see them at the church in the next couple of weeks, and
share them. In preparation for our season’s outreach and lifting up the Light of Christ, we will also offer a time
to prepare our efforts in hospitality. We’ve hosted times for studying Christian hospitality several times before
and we want to offer an additional time on Thursday, December 4 at 7PM, and a second meeting on Tuesday
evening December 18 at 7PM. We invite and look for greeters and ushers to join us, as we look at the ways
Jesus commissions us to open our hearts in faith, and extend friendship to guests. The holidays present us with
special opportunities to share and be more focused and clear in who we are and how we reach out and welcome.

Most of us know the story that King Herod was threatened by the birth of our Savior; his fears led him to commit
genocide on a group of little children. He cut himself off from the blessings and possibilities that God provides.
None of us would commit such a crime, but there are ways we suffocate life and the potential that God entrusts
to us. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me;” Mark 9:37 NIV While
Jesus was talking about a child of a young age brought to him. So it is that grace expands our view to look
upon all people today as children of God. And so we approach the holidays hopeful of the ways God will
open our hearts in sharing faith in fellowship together. Blessings, Tim