A Word from Our Pastor 2010 December Christmas Message

Christmas Message

People in the Bible expected that the birth of Christ would bring a time of peace, as predictions of the Messiah’s arrival announced:

Our God is merciful and tender;
He will cause the bright dawn of salvation to rise on us
And to shine from heaven on all those who live in the dark shadow of death,
To guide our steps into the path of peace. . .
(Luke 1:78-79)

Perhaps one of the most beautiful passages that we believe foretells the coming of Jesus is in Isaiah 9:6-7:

A child is born to us! A son is given to us!
And he will be our ruler.
He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,”
“Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,”
“Prince of Peace.”
His royal power will continue to grow; his kingdom will always be at peace. . .

And so we find ourselves, more than 2,000 years later, still praying for peace.

We are like the ancient people of Israel, as well as the Jews of Jesus’ time: we want to end the warfare that surrounds and threatens to overwhelm us. Like them, we are becoming aware that the wisdom of our selves and our leaders is limited. Too often, we have been guided by revenge, greed or even idealism to take short-sighted actions; we didn’t seem to understand the full consequences of the things we set in motion. Now, we cannot see a clear path ahead: whatever we do regarding the war seems it will create further problems. What is our responsibility? What will best for us and for the Iraqi and Afghani people? What will stop the violence and return our lives to “normal”?

These are the times when we should remember the lessons of our faith. Other generations have walked this path before. It seems that we human beings need to learn these lessons over and over again. God has given us clear guidelines about the “things that make for peace,” and yet we ignore them, and find ourselves lost in darkness. Countless generations have gotten themselves into so complicated a mess that only God could unravel it. And God did take action:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
They lived in a land of shadows, but now light is shining on them.
You have given them great joy, Lord; you have made them happy. . .
(Isaiah 9:2-3)

In this Christmas season, as we anticipate the birth of the Prince of Peace, let us turn our thoughts to God’s guidance — as we take up our role in helping to create the peace that is God’s will. . . peace in the world — but also peace in our homes, among our family and friends, and in our local communities. We are called to be peacemakers: and in our hearts, we know what to do.

What can you do today that will help the world believe that peace is really, truly possible?

This is the true meaning of Christmas.

May your holiday be blessed with peace,

Rev. Naomi

Christmas Letter:
Two nights ago we held our annual “Turkey Lock In.” I spent some time talking about poverty with the youth who had gathered to prepare Thanksgiving dinners for two needy families. When I asked how many of them knew someone who had lost their job recently, more than half of them raised their hands. They listened very seriously as we talked about hard times: it is something they are learning about first hand in their communities, schools and families.

Too often we are told that things will turn around soon: especially the economy. Maybe, maybe not. In the news Ireland’s national banking system is soon to be bailed out by the European Union — and economists fear that Spain(a much larger country) and Portugal will be next. It doesn’t sound to me like things are on the upswing anywhere, just yet. There is no easy, quick answer for this situation.

This is a wake-up call for our country: it has been almost one hundred years since the Great Depression, and most of us are not used to having to reduce our expectations. On the other hand, in many cases, we have grown far to accustomed to having everything we want, and not disciplining ourselves to be satisfied with having just what we need.

I believe our seemingly endless desire for material comforts is actually a replacement for spiritual hunger. Rather than turning to our faith for meaning, too many people have settled for electronic devices and designer clothes. A wise person said, “You can never have too much of want you want.” Getting what you want can cause more problems than it solves, and expectations for more and more and more are being disappointed in this economic downturn.

However, God will never disappoint us. In this season of Advent, we celebrate the expectation, the longing, for the God’s arrival in our midst. God will bring peace, joy and love — things we need more desperately than I-phones. But God’s gifts do not come to us without our asking. If we want to experience God’s presence, we have to seek it.

May this Christmas time be filled with prayer, gratitude and love: if you set your mind and your heart on these things, God will be there.

We are so grateful for you, and for your participation in the BMUC community: may God’s blessings surround you and yours.

–Rev. Naomi