“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” – Isaiah 7.14
Many of our leaders recently participated in a retreat lead by Ted Lewis who runs the Agape’ Peace Library in the back corner of the fellowship hall. Trying to sum up the deeply moving, six-hour experience is difficult at best. I think the best way of describing the experience would be we spent six hours learning what it truly means to be Christ for each other. This is fitting as that is really what the church is all about. If we aren’t about this, why are we even here?
As we enter into the Christmas season we do so with a variety of emotions. For many of us, this is a season of joy and excitement that has continued since our days as children. For others of us, life has happened and we may be having our first holiday season without a loved one. The darkness is settling in all around us with the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer. It is in the midst of this darkness that we as Christians make the bold claim, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” We are light shining into the darkness for each other and the world.
Advent begins the Church year. At the beginning of each year, many of us take stock of how things are going. What needs to be improved on? What are the strengthens we can capitalize on? As we take stock of our congregation, I am proud of where we find ourselves. Our fall series on 1 Peter was a perfect capstone to the year. Peter encourages the churches to which he writes to make their very life together a witness of Christ. How we love each other, how we wrestle with conflicts among ourselves, how we encourage one another through suffering, in all these things we are witnesses of Christ.
We, as a congregation, continue to intentionally and faithfully move toward greater Christlikeness. That is an audacious claim but it is also true. We are becoming a force for good and transformation in our community. I continue to get more and more requests from our community for First Presbyterian’s involvement in transforming Duluth for the better. We are being invited into the exciting life-changing opportunities to bring Christ’s light into places where darkness pervades.
As we prepare for and experience the incarnation of the Christ child into our lives, we are called to reflect that incarnation into each other lives also. The church is healthiest and strongest when we do so. As we begin a new year of life together, let us all pray for this momentum to strengthen and continue! As we become Christ for each other, we also strengthen our incarnational presence outside these walls also. May that be so!
In Christ’s Service,
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