North Highland United Methodist Church
Friday, February 26, 2021
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors


    Over the next few days and weeks, most of us will have the Christmas decorations put away—maybe even cleverly stored in particular boxes designed just for that purpose. Some of the ornaments are perhaps personal treasures, and getting them out each year brings a warm feeling or memory to us, so we gently pack them away until next year. And that is all good. Much
of our beloved Christmas celebrations are centered around ourvarious family or personal traditions and memories.
    But what do we do with the scriptural Christmas story? Does it seem that it is also a sort of decoration for the season, only to be relegated to storage until the next Advent season? If so, that is unfortunate as it really isn’t simply an ornamental addition to December worship. It is a story to speak and inform throughout the year. Amid the lullabies and glorious angel songs, we heard again of Mary’s courageous acceptance of a call on her life, and of Joseph and his kind-hearted decision challenged to take an even braver trust-inducing step. We were reminded again of people accustomed to being kept at arm’s length, being the very ones invited to the holiest of moments. Even when those shepherds return to the fields, and the angels’ songs are more distant, the story continues. Some seek and find, while fear and irrational need for self preservation brings such destruction that we find those whom we call the Holy family now refugees, fleeing their country to save their lives.
     This is more than a decorative story—this is a story that will inform and challenge and encourage us as a church and as individuals into each new year. Most certainly there will be perplexing calls, and times when peace will take more courage than we may believe we have; times when even the best of intentions may need to be reconsidered and re-worked; and times when we find we may need to move in different ways in order to reach our intended goals.
     Do you still have your feather from the first Sunday in Advent? In the days and weeks ahead, let that be a reminder to you that God’s Spirit is only a breath away! That God is still speaking and working, even through us. The song we learned. Angels Among Us, reminds us that “the way God works is to plant more hope on earth just like it was at Jesus’ birth”. So let’s not pack away the story of Christmas, because it is NOW that the work and living of Christmas begins! And with hearts newly warmed and renewed, we are called to be the messengers of God who speak and live in ways that keep the flames of hope, peace, love and joy flickering brightly right here—right here in our world where many are still held at arm’s length, where we face daily challenges of faithfulness, and where many still must flee the destruction brought by irrational fears of others.
This year let’s keep this story from scripture close by to guide us into another year of truly following this Child of the Manger.
 May peace and joy be yours for the New Year,
Pastor Lou

January 2018