The season of Advent/Christmas is one of my favorites. There is something about Christmas that brings out the best in people. It just seems that people in general are more generous, more loving, more friendly, more caring, and more neighborly from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. I have found this to be true regardless of my location; whether, in the city, a suburb or in rural America. I believe that it could be the lights that seems to change us for the better.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” Isaiah 9:1 (NRSV)
For the light of Christ does not change based on our location according to Google maps. The light that shined on that first Christmas Eve in Bethlehem is the same light that shines for us each and every day ever since we accepted Jesus as into our hearts and minds. It is the power of that light that has the potential to transform us into the people that God needs us to be wherever we find ourselves.
I believe in the Light and the hope that Jesus brings even when the town is immersed in darkness the rest of the year after the sun goes down. The promise that “the darkness shall not overcome us” can be challenged during difficult times but it cannot be completely extinguished. For eventually the sun comes up and shines on us once again.
It is the same for the Church of Jesus Christ that has gone and is going through a period of darkness whether a city, suburban or rural church. Many churches have been torn apart by the fight over dogma and lost sight of the truths Jesus founded his church on. Even FPC of Allegan has gone through troubling times. Yet the Light of Christ has the power to break through, giving us the possibility of new life. It is challenging, yet possible if we ask ourselves the right questions that can get us back on track.
I am reading a book by Brian McLaren entitled The Great Spiritual Migration, who poses some interesting questions like these two of which we might want to ponder:
“What would it mean for Christians to rediscover their faith not as a problematic system of beliefs, but as a just and generous way of life, rooted in contemplation and expressed in compassion, that makes amends for its mistakes and is dedicated to beloved community for all? Could Christians migrate from defining their faith as a system of beliefs to expressing it as a loving way of life?”
I believe we can if we all approach the next things with an open heart, mind, body and soul. After all, what brings us to First Presbyterian Church of Allegan is that we all love Jesus. If we can agree on that then we are off to a good start.
So hang your lights on your homes and trees and after the lights go out when the season comes to a close, continue to “let your light shine before others” regardless of your situation. Be patient, kind and loving in all that you say and do “so that others may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:16 (NRSV))
Therefore, I look forward to our journey together beginning with this glorious season of birth and the promise of rebirth!
I thank God for you,
Pastor Kathy Nealand