Community in Action December 24, 2020

Peace I leave with you;

my peace I give to you.

John 14:27a

    I have said these words many times in the last month. I have officiated three memorial services during the month of December. One was for a member of our congregation the other two I was asked by a local funeral home to lead a memorial service for people who did not have a spiritual faith community.

    These are not easy events to officiate, especially during a time when we are singing about Joy to the world, yet they are part of what it means to be human. Life and death come unexpectedly, as Mary was not expecting her pregnancy when it happened and these deaths may have had some warning, but never enough for those who are losing the loved one.

    Perhaps you think it is morbid to bring up people dying around Christmas, but maybe it helps us appreciate the life we have even more. I think if we acknowledge that our time on this earth is limited we will not take for granted our current life. Also I think acknowledging the difficult things in life may give us an inclination to be more compassionate toward people around us.

    When we see people act out or upset over something we think is trivial, an argument between friends, a misunderstanding at a store, or maybe even an encounter with our neighbors we need to remember we don’t know their full story.

    Each of us has not only our own individual life to live, but we have a history which is packed with emotionally laden baggage. True there are times we need to move on from the difficult times we have had in the past, but also there are times that our baggage pops open unexpectedly. “Closer” over an emotional laden incident is merely a term not always an actuality that can happen.

    Yet, Jesus says to his disciples at the last supper, which we will celebrate in our evening Christmas Eve service, the phrase above. He also tells them, “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

    Where did we hear the “do not be afraid before?” We heard it when the angels told those invited to participate in the birth of Jesus that God will help things come out alright. This is an important part of receiving the peace of Christ.

    No, we can not bring our loved ones back to life, but we can remember the good things about their life. We can remember ways in which they were an example which will enrich our lives and the lives of others. Remembering the good things of others can help us experience peace.

    I know for some of us Christmas time is an emotional time. For some of us Christmas brings up a past which was difficult, but know this Jesus came to not only redeem us, but to redeem the past. Jesus came to bring us hope, joy, and love that knows no bounds.

    I offer you this phrase which Jesus said not only to his disciples but to people everywhere in every time. “Peace to you.” May your heart be soothed and your celebrations be joyful this Christmas.


    Pastor Randy

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