Grace and peace to you, beloved in Christ!
In these moments as winter beckons, we praise God for all things including our lives together as people of faith. I have heard from so many of you how grateful we are to be able to honor God as a congregation in the life of the church because even in the face of the pandemic, we are witnesses to the good in this world – the love and grace of Jesus Christ. I praise God for you all!
I have also heard from many of you in the “wondering” of how Thanksgiving and Christmas will be so very different this year due to the pandemic of COVID-19, and how you will be missing relatives and friends that you would commonly see and visit with this time of year. And, how that very visiting is accentuated with times of baking sweet things, delivering gifts of home-made delights to neighbors, traveling to places, and decorating the home with smell of warm cider or hot chocolate in the air as you put on Christmas music to decorate the tree. And so, will all that be absent this year?
If you are thinking these thoughts – bravo and praise God! It means that you are prayerfully thinking about all the loved ones in your life and how you want to keep from the transmitting the virus from anyone you love from becoming ill. This is an expression of love. This expression is scriptural and means that you put love first and life is enacted by your faith; it is a witness to love in the name of Christ! John 13:34 quotes Jesus to say: “love one another as I have loved you”. Love will honor one another this season, even if we might not be able to gather as we would desire. But love is present, alive, and very real, praise God!
Here is a suggestion many of you are already involved in over the miles with family and friends: share your celebration and mealtime through digital communication. There is something that happens around the table together, as you know. Jesus shared a great deal of love and ministry around the table, inviting people like the tax collector, friends, skeptics and sinners, to share nourishment. Meal time becomes something holy when prayers of thanks are prayed and time is spent with food and company. As much as we would like to travel, chop vegetables together and linger over pie, we can still rejoice with the technology that allows faces to be seen, prayers to be prayed, and love to be shared.
If we can put love first, using digital communication (zoom, Facetime et al,) around the table and know that we do not lack for a holy time together, we are indeed taking part in a time in our lives that is unique and blessed, too. Is it possible that Paul could look down from heaven and say: “this is what I meant – give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)?
I pray that this Advent and Christmas, that we are all able to see God’s love in our opportunities that provide contact through means, while different than other years, are still expressions of deep love in God through Christ for one another. He came to be among us that we might know this love; he came to make love known. Shall we honor God’s human journey with “thanks in all circumstances”? (1 Thess. 5:18) Praise be to God!
With grace, hope, peace and love! Rev Dr. Robin Blair