Dearest Hope Family,
My family and I loved celebrating Christmas with you all in two distinctly different – yet equally beautiful and meaningful – services on Christmas Eve, and as the dawn of Christmas Day breaks this morning we are eager to enjoy a finish line of sorts and savor the hope of God’s kept promises through Jesus – and, definitely, open some presents, too!
In the coming days, as the dust begins to settle, and the pace of Christmas ramps down to something a little more ordinary and, perhaps, a little more manageable, and, definitely, much more real, I pray that you will find time or make time to reflect a bit about God’s goodness throughout this bizarre and exacting year and his light that shines in the darkness in such a way that the darkness cannot and will not overcome it.
I recently came across the nugget quoted above from Tolkien of Hobbit fame. A character is entering a long journey through shadowed, unfamiliar territory, and he is given a unique treasure, “a light for when all other lights go out.” These past 10 months (and we are by no means out of the woods yet!) have been shadowed and unfamiliar in the extreme. We all have had trusted “lights” dim and go out completely: we lament the loss of loved ones, the loss of meaningful work with beloved co-workers, the loss of companies, the loss of trust, the loss of predictable ways of life, the loss of marriages, the loss of health, the loss of faith, the loss of innocence, the loss of civility and honest discourse, the loss of warm greetings with handshakes and hugs, the loss of freedoms we never knew to be so dear, and the loss of much more besides. These “lights” have gone out, and often we find ourselves longing for a light that outlasts all other lights, a “light for when all other lights go out,” a light that will not fade or flicker.
The astounding promise of the Gospel is that upon people who walk in deep darkness a light has dawned in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and it will shine brighter and brighter until full day! He, indeed, is the “light for when all other lights go out”!
I am so thankful for Hope Church – for the way you all remind me of and celebrate well this Light of the World. Thank you for sticking with the church through cancellations, disappointments, livestreams, pivots, surveys, indoor services, outdoor services, navigating the embattled upheaval around race and justice, and a divisive political season. Thank you for giving generously, praying expectantly, serving faithfully, and hoping courageously. Thank you for a wonderful year of life and ministry together.
The last thing I want to mention is that we have the privilege of welcoming Rev. Tim Muse to our pulpit this Sunday morning. Tim is a vibrant part of Hope Church, and he is an ordained minister in our Presbytery. Many of you have benefitted from Tim’s leading a recent Sunday School study of the book of Romans. I cannot wait to hear what God has in store for us from His Word through Tim this week!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Grace and peace,