e-letter 1/04/19

As I write this I’m sitting in my office, glancing at the little tree that is still sitting on my desk and the jingle bell wreath that is still hanging on my office door. I suppose on Monday, I’ll take them down and put them away until next year. But like the decorations that are still up in my home (I’ve saved that job for this weekend) they are my reminders that Christmas is not quite over. The world may have moved on, but the church (liturgical) calendar moves at its own pace. That means that we will spend our last day of the Christmas season in worship this Sunday as we celebrate Epiphany, commemorating the journey of the Wisemen to the Christ child and their discovery of God’s light and love in that child.

As we remember the experience of the Wisemen and how that experience shaped and changed their lives, we will also begin to think about how Christ can shape and change us in this new year. More specifically, we will begin to think about how the love and grace of Jesus can empower us to develop healthier, more whole relationships in our families and in our friendships.

God has made us to live in relationships and God wants to work in our relationships to help us become the people that God, in love, created us to be. But relationships are complicated and messy because people are complicated and messy. Still, it is precisely in the messiness of our ordinary, everyday human relationships that we can grow into the likeness of Christ, becoming more loving, patient, kind, caring, forgiving, compassionate and merciful. It isn’t easy. It takes time and intentional effort. And it takes the miracle of grace working in us. But in the end, we can all know the blessings of living and growing in the context of healthy, real, honest relationships that can bring out the best in us. 

So, this week, as we close the books on Christmas we will also lean forward into the New Year and our new message series on relationships “This is Us.” As a part of this series, we would like to create a collage of what “This is Us” looks like here at Suntree UMC. For the next couple of weeks, we encourage you to bring in a picture of yourself with those who make up your “family”. You can bring it by the office next week and we will place it on the display before worship the following Sunday. Or you can bring it to worship next Sunday, January 13 where we will have a place where it will be displayed (in both the sanctuary and the worship center). If you want the picture back, please label it with your name and contact information and we will get it back to you after the conclusion of the series.

I encourage you to prepare for worship this week by reading the story of the Wisemen found in Matthew 2:1-12 along with some helpful words from Paul in Colossians 3:12-17. Together, we will conclude the celebration of Christmas with a few more Christmas carols, sharing in the sacrament of Holy Communion, and leaning into this new year like the Wisemen, carrying the light of love and grace that we have found in Jesus once again.

Grace and Peace and Happy New Year!