THE NET

Orangethorpe United Methodist Church

January 2003 - - - Volume 45 Number 1

Open Hands, Open Hearts, Open Minds --
A Home For All God's People.

From Your Pastor

It's coming. That strange feeling that happens (at least to me) just about every Christmas. Now, I'm sure that I probably experienced it more as a child, but I'm willing to admit that it still hits me now even as an adult. It's the feeling that happens on Christmas morning, usually around 10:00 AM in our house, and I'll bet that we've all been there at one time or another.

As Christians we've taken four weeks to build up to Christmas. We have lit the candles. We have eaten all of the little chocolates from the advent calendar aunt Betty gives you every year. We've seen all of the Christmas specials, watched the living nativity on Christmas eve, sung Silent Night, put the milk and cookies out for Santa, and gone to bed. Of course as a people of faith, we know that the true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our savior into the world. But there's that other little part in each of us that looks forward to the other ritual of Christmas morning. The presents!

And the feeling I'm talking about is the one you get right after the last present has been opened. Of course, you have to make the extra check just to see if there's a tiny one tucked around the back of the tree first. But after that, when you know every thing has been opened, and you sit with your family amid the remnants of wrapping paper and bows strewn about the living room it hits you. It's done! After all of this waiting and building up, the time of consumer Christmas is over in a matter of moments. And you sit there saying to yourself, "Now what?"

The feeling has a little bit of depression attached to it. You know it's going to be another 365 days until you get to do it all again. But you know what? I think that's right where God can get to work in our hearts. Because it's there that our own hearts can realize the truth that presents only last for a moment, but the good news born in a manger lasts forever.

Imagine yourself a shepherd on that first Christmas. You went to that little stable and saw the love of God in the form of a tender infant boy. And after you'd seen it -- opened the first Christmas present ever if you will -- you go home different. They didn't have the PPLDS (Post Present Let Down Syndrome); because they saw first hand that this was a present from God that was meant to last. It had an eternal warranty on it instead of the 30 day one that comes with most gadgets these days. And it went with them from that stable into the entire world.

As we go back to work, start school again, and move into the New Year, I want to encourage you to take your Christmas present with you: the one that God gives you each year and each and every day, through the love of Jesus Christ. Know that the gift of love, grace, and new life are endless, and that Christmas is only a day to remember what's in front of us all the time.

Happy New Year and continue to have a Merry Christmas every day of the year.

With God's Peace,

Pastor Karl