Yes, these are difficult times; days of struggling with our emotional health; and an era in history that those in the future will look back on quizzically as to how neighbors, family members, and former friends could reach such high levels of animosity towards each other when what would have made the most sense is working with each other.
So, SHALOM … PEACE to you, your family, and your friends! May the God of Creation be your waking, walking, working, and meal-time partner, providing a sense of peace that exceeds human understanding—so that you hold tight to your love of God and all neighbors, pushing aside any fears that the world wants you to hold tight to. John writes, “There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. The command that Christ has given us is: all who love God must love their brother or sister also.”
We are entering the season of holidays. That’s right, I used the H word partly because there are multiple holidays (Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and yes, Christmas) but also because too many people get worried about who is saying or not saying Merry Christmas when the truth is we need to put CHRIST in Christmas, in how we approach our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers. This is a season to give bonuses out to our friends rather than angrily criticizing the clerk or the store whose words for the months of November and December are “Happy Holidays.”
We begin November by celebrating 28 friends who have been members of St. Paul’s for more than 50 years, which is truly amazing. But we are also celebrating 13 individuals who have decided to call St. Paul’s their home church, which is again amazing. It’s clear that coming to our church and worshiping with our church family is something special that people are thankful for.
So, this holiday season (yes, I used those words again) I am going to be encouraging each of you to provide a bonus to those you love and care for. For the people on your Christmas Card list. Perhaps even for strangers. I want each of us to invite people to church … our church, this special church where love abounds for all!
The invitation can be verbal … “Hey friend, I’d love for you to come to church with me on Sunday and then let’s have breakfast together.” The invitation can be a note you write in your cards, “I would love to have you and your family discover why I love my church.” And, the invitation can be handing out a preprinted card that we will have ready for you by December.
The bonus we offer your friends and mine is that they can choose to worship with us in person or online. They can sit in church for Bible Study of they can be part of our Bible study classes from the comfort of their own home.
It’s a time of Thanksgiving … it’s a time to get ready for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is time we each can do our own small part to change the world by sharing what we all know is something good.
I am looking forward to celebrating God’s love through Jesus Christ with all of you over the next few weeks. I pray for SHALOM (Peace). I pray that we find a middle zone for our nation that we all can accept, so that those future historians will not have to study years and years of animosity. I pray that they will find that the people who believe in God’s grace through Jesus Christ changed it all around.