Please enjoy this Christmas message for United Methodists across the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area from Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky. She invites us to step outside to see what God is up to beneath the surface.
When I was a little girl and it was just about Christmastime, we’d go out as a family in the station wagon and we’d get a Christmas tree at a lot. We’d bring it home and we’d get out the boxes of decorations to hang on the tree, and when we came to the tinsel, the shiny tinsel; in my family we called it rain.
Now, my friends when I grew up made fun of me for that. They thought hanging rain on a tree was a pretty dismal thing to do. But as a child, it was the rain that reflected the light and that reflected symbolically the love of God in our lives, and so that taught me that at Christmas time it isn’t so much about what’s really going on on the surface of things. It’s really about what’s going on in here that matters.
That amazing couple, Joseph and Mary, traveled to a distant town. It’d be like my family going to the mountains of western Virginia where my family first migrated to this nation.
They were in a place they didn’t know.
They were not among family.
They were about to have a baby out of wedlock.
They were homeless.
They were displaced.
They were alone.
And it was there that they experienced this amazing miracle as this tiny baby was born to them. God’s miracle that life can come with joy, and anticipation, and incredible blessing even in the worst of circumstances. And so, we all these years later, we celebrate what happened that night and we do it by lighting lights and listening to music, making music, singing music. We do it by eating great food and inviting people over to our homes and saying, “Oh, let’s get together and celebrate this amazing thing that happened to Joseph and Mary when the tiny baby Jesus was born.”
You know you can get lost in all of that. You can make it about the food and the song and the lights.
I invite you this Christmas to step outside.
Step outside of your home.
Step outside of your preparation.
Step outside of your expectations, your anxiety.
Step outside of your sorrow to see what God’s up to this year this Christmas. What’s being born?
Step outside to see the goodness, the kindness, how merciful God is, and take a deep breath.
The heavens will dance. Peace will settle gently. Hope will shine again and anew for us. God is faithful. God is steadfast.
May it be to us according to God’s promises for this day, for our lives, for our church, for our nation, for the whole beautiful world. A blessing to you. Amen.
Video by Rev. David Valera, Exec. Dir. of Connectional Ministries (PNW)