A Seasonal Message from Rev. Jim
November 27, 2020
Good Shepherd Family and Friends,
I bring greetings to you this year from my home office. It seems I have been holed up here for months, as we honour God in protecting one another from the spread of the coronavirus. Indeed, the whole world has been preoccupied with this disease. And rightly so. But perhaps, like me, you are a little weary of the conditions under which we are living right now, especially as we approach Advent and the Christmas Season.
These times have taught me many things. The importance of community and how fragile humanity is. The value of leaning into God ’s grace in despair. But mostly, if these past months since March have greatly prospered anything within me, it is this: the good practice of waiting and longing. We long to see friends and family again. We can’t wait to enjoy a meal at our favourite restaurant. We long to share the bread and wine together around the Lord’s Table.
Psalm 84 was written by an official doorkeeper of the temple, who expresses his longing to join God in his holy place:
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
As he waits, the doorkeeper goes on to sing of how God’s presence provides safety, security, sustenance, and strength — the promise of a peaceful life fixed firmly in the presence of the living God.
This is the hope of our waiting and longing amid the toned-down celebrations and the threat of COVID-19: King Jesus, who lowered himself to be the babe in a manger, is the living Lord who today rules with mercy from his throne. Not a thing has slipped from his hand. Through Him God’s plan stands. He has not been thwarted by any virus, or dethroned by any lost traditions. The living God holds you in His hand, and he will not let go of you.
As the world struggles with a global pandemic, people all around are preparing scaled-down Christmas celebrations. Many, including us here in Niagara, are being asked to stay home this season, and refrain from welcoming friends and family. It will be different. For many it just won’t seem like Christmas at all.
But for those of us who live in hope, Christmas will be very much the same. For the object of our celebrations, the One in whom we delight, has not changed. He is not absent. He is near even during our muted merry-making. He will pray with you Christmas Eve, wake with you Christmas morning and dine with you Christmas night. We will decorate the house with lights and candles and wreaths and ribbons all in quiet celebration of God with us; not simply to carry us through this life on earth, but to one day walk us into the full presence of God in his eternal dwelling place.
So, I think that perhaps a toned-down Christmas is precisely what we need. Perhaps God is calling you to cast off the busyness and commerce that usually invades your time during this Season, and take advantage of the coming silent nights to truly, deliberately and longingly reflect on the hope in what is to come. To embrace more purposefully the safety, security, sustenance and strength of the little Babe in the manger.
You are in Good Hands.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus bless you this season and always.