Jayne and I are so glad to be sharing our first Christmas with the St. Andrew’s UMC family. From the first moment that we find out that we were being appointed to St. Andrew’s, we knew God was in this. And as we now have been here about six months, there is nothing to sway us from feeling that God’s hand has been in bringing us here, that we can join in ministry with this faithful and dedicated community of servants of Christ who we have met here. We look forward to sharing many more Advent seasons and Christmases with you. We look forward to where God will take us here at this church as we discern God’s direction together in fulfilling the vision He has set out for us. For we know deep down in our hearts that God is with us.
Isn’t that the real message of Christmas, that God is with us, He chose to be with us, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, or as Eugene Peterson states in his translation of the Bible called the Message, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” The God of heaven who created you and me and all creation, didn’t just send us a messenger to tell us about His love, but that He loved us enough that He entered our world himself to tell us and show us his great love for all humankind. He came as a helpless, vulnerable baby, coming into the world as we all have done. He came not as a powerful leader, but as a humble servant to show us how we should live.
Often at Christmas time, we focus on the infant in the manger, tender and mild. Yet, this baby would become the savior of the world. Not just part of the world, but the whole world. This is the great news that the angels, appearing before the shepherds, watching their flock at night, announced, “I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” This is good news of great joy for all the heavens above and the earth below. This is why a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angels and the shepherds, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Christ came so that the world through Him might be saved.
This is God’s grand purpose in our lives, that His love be shown to us through Christ. It was foretold thousands of years before the birth of Jesus. In Isaiah 9, we read that the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.”
This year, 2020, has been quite a challenging year to say the least. And all the problems in the world, in our nation, in our community, in our families, don’t just evaporate once it becomes 2021. We don’t know what the new year will bring. But we are certain that whatever happens, God will be with us. God is in it. The message of Christmas is this very thing. Jesus said that “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The light of the world is with us, so that we can share this light to others who walk in darkness.
From the Rideout family to all of you, may you have a very blessed Christmas and a hope-filled 2021.