It’s the eve of our departure for a Christmas celebration in Phoenix with Mike and Vanessa and their two children, Link and Hazel, as well as with our daughter Heather and her husband, Josh. On the way, we will share an evening celebrating Christmas over a meal and the exchange of gifts with our daughter Leanne and her husband Ryan in Vancouver. We will be missing a few others this Christmas including Heidi and her husband Nathan and family (Gideon, Floyd, and Mavis) in St. Albert, Alberta, and Heather’s girls, Chloe, Brynna and Jolie in Calgary. Carolyn and I are excited about the opportunity to spend this Christmas celebration with some of our family in a warmer place. We love the snow of this part of the world at Christmas, but we’ve had a lot of it recently, so it will be a very nice change.
Christmas is that wonderful opportunity that God gives us each year to reflect on the miracle of Jesus coming into the world in such humble circumstances to bring all the grace and blessing of heaven into our lives. As recipients of the gift of Jesus’ coming, we are overwhelmed with the sense of goodness that God has brought into our lives. Who could ever begin to calculate the blessing of that great event of Jesus’ coming from heaven to earth to show us the very nature of God? On the other hand, Christmas reminds us of the tremendous sacrifice that Jesus’ coming meant for both the Father and His Son. It’s impossible for any of us to imagine the extend of humiliation that Jesus’ coming meant for Him. Besides the story of Jesus’ birth recorded for us in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, there are so many other Scriptures that speak of the significance of Jesus’ incarnation. I think of John 1, Philippians 2, and Hebrews 1 to name only a few. “This is love,” writes John, “not that we loved God but that He loved us, and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
There is so much about the world we live in that is very, very beautiful. It’s important for us to take time often to reflect on the expressions of God’s goodness among us — the beauty of creation, of course — of food and work and a thousand other pleasures — but also the beauty of human love and care, not to mention human creative ability. But on the other hand, it is very obvious that the world staggers terribly under the burden of poverty, injustice, disease and the awfulness of death. It is clear from reading the New Testament that Jesus came into the world to introduce people everywhere to the spectacular wonders of His rule, His kingdom. By Jesus’ coming a light began to dawn in the abysmal darkness of this world. And through the work of God’s Spirit especially among those who come to believe in Him, that light is growing ever brighter. At this Christmas time, we pause to remember that wonder of God’s love in our lives.
For me, it has meant the opportunity to serve Christ’s church in Cranbrook, BC, and more recently in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Each time I enter one of these Pastoral Transition experiences, I am overwhelmed with a sense of God’s amazing grace at work among people who know and love Him. Despite the difficulties of Christian living that are so common among us — like having to contend with the myriad of life’s daily challenges, with illness, and even awkward relationships at times — there is an amazing sense of goodness and blessing among the people of God. I feel so privileged to serve among them in the ways that God has called me to serve in these days.
Most of the time Carolyn is busy taking care of things at our home in Prince George, BC, where she also has the happiness of using her gifts as a substitute teacher in the public school system. I am so glad to see her thrive in this kind of work. From time to time she joins me at my place of church ministry service, keeping in touch with what I am doing and providing encouragement and support as only she can. It is always such a pleasure to come home for a week or two each month after serving a church for a couple of weeks or so. We feel so blessed to be doing what God has obviously prepared us to do during these years.
Christmas is an opportunity to recognize God’s goodness in a special way and to focus attention on thanking Him for all He has done. It is also a time to reflect on all the people whom God has brought into our lives who support us spiritually and emotionally. Though we can’t ever hope to see them all at once, at least we can remember them as they come to mind, as we read see or read about them on places like Facebook, or receive special greetings from them in the mail.
As for me, I just want to take the opportunity this Christmas, to recognize all the wonderful people that I have had the opportunity to come to know over the years, and especially for those who have extended their love and support toward me and this work of Second Wind Ministries in some way. Thanks to family and friends for their patience, their prayers, and their many expressions of love. What a pleasure to celebrate the joy of Christmas in this way! ed