From the Pastor

(December 2021)

There’s a different feeling this year, isn’t there?

 

When Advent rolled around last year, there was a sadness that we wouldn’t be able to celebrate Christmas in traditional ways, yet there was this feeling that we would endure it for one another.  And we did.  Last year was hard.  And special.

 

Things are different this year.  Culturally, I’m convinced that the appetite for “enduring” is gone.  The more I talk to you all, the more I read blogs and articles about trends in church life, the more I observe the swift buildup to the holiday season this year that far outpaces anything I’ve ever experienced, I’m convinced that our culture is ready to celebrate.  Really, deeply, powerfully celebrate.

 

My first call, then, is to invite you to do just that!  Throw yourself into the things that bring you joy.  Throw yourself into a deeper exploration of what this season means, what it means to wait for a Savior, and what it means that we proclaim this particular Savior.  Pick up a good book, pray through St. Mary’s daily prayer liturgy, come to worship, something.  God still has something for us this season.  Give yourself a chance to hear the story in new ways.  Let it surprise and shape you.

 

But it’s not just about us, is it?  I was challenged on Laity Sunday when I heard Lee Kline ask the congregation, “When’s the last time you invited someone to church?”  It’s been a while for me.  I always make the excuse that I don’t want to be that pastor that puts weird pressure on people to show up.  Maybe you feel similarly.  I get it, I really do.  But…

 

Here’s a little data for you:  86% of people with no church affiliation say they would attend a church service/event at the invitation of a friend.

 

You know that feeling you have to REALLY celebrate this year?  Your friends and family feel the same way.  The pandemic has created a really unique opportunity to offer a gentle invitation.  A simple – “Hey, wanna come drive around at the Outdoor Christmas Event on the 18th?” or “Why don’t you join us for Christmas Eve this year?” could make the difference in someone’s life. 

 

So, this Christmas season, let’s commit to one another not only to deeply invest in our own faith, but to invite someone to come along the journey with us.  Christmas is full of surprises – maybe God’s got one in place for this year that might change a life.  All we need do is ask :-)

 

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

 

Pastor Sam