December 2010 “From The Pastor”

At our recent All Church Retreat one of the scriptures we looked at in our conversation about “change” was the story of Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25ff).  I have pondered these two young people and the many, complex, and interrelated adjustments, transformations, and even revolutions that occurred following that fateful announcement the angel Gabriel imparted upon them.  From having a baby, to deciding to stay together regardless of the communal disdain that was surely upon them, to having to flee their homeland because of a homicidal ruler, to being informed that their child was, no less than the Son of God… change was everywhere they looked and went.

But, as powerful and important as the changes would be were for these two individuals, what came about that amazing night would rock the very foundations of an empire, nay, even the world.  Transformation is like that.  When an individual changes, families and communities change.  When families and communities change, principalities and powers are forced to change.

There is a popular quote amongst Advance Conference folks, attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, that says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  This maxim implies two things (at least): First, all change begins with the individual if it is to be effective and to be sustained.  Second, when individuals change, the world changes.

God envisioned a creation that not only was divinely crafted, but one that knew and relied upon that sacred source intimately and passionately.  That could only happen if God became one of us.  This embodiment, this incarnation, would confront humanity with both its (our) glory and its (our) waywardness.  Such a mirror being held up to us would naturally cause us to desire to change, in ourselves and others.

When I think of Emmanuel, or literally, “God-With-Us,” I can’t help but see myself in that mirror.  In Christ I see all that God created me to be, all the goodness, and all the beauty, and all the truth, and I want to do more, to be all that God created me to be.  Likewise, I see in the Babe of Bethlehem all that I do and am that misses the mark: the rebelliousness, the mistrust, the defeatism, and the hunger for more of what I don’t, can’t, and even shouldn’t have.

This Christmas, and as we continue in our Visioning Process, let us “be the change” we wish to see in our church, in our world, and in ourselves.  Let the simple love of God-In-Christ hold a mirror up to ourselves and see what needs to be improved upon and what needs to be let go, for good.

I wish you and all those in your world, family, friends, colleagues, all the very best this Christmas holiday.  May Joseph and Mary give you the strength to do what needs to be done, to make the changes necessary, so that God’s Love will be made real in you.

Proudly Your Pastor,