Chapel Happenings Holiday 2019
Dear Friends, The meaning of Christmas has never been more real to me as I reflect back on another year of our service to God on Fishers Island. The love and care provided by this congregation to one another and to our neighbors truly embodies Christ’s love, and so in everyday ways the incarnation of Christ is being made real again and again through our hearts and hands. Behold!
As your pastor, I am so very grateful to be on the receiving end of that love in a myriad of ways. But with my sabbatical coming up soon in January, I want to say a very big thank you for this very generous gift of three months of rest and renewal! Of course, the word “sabbatical” is related to the word “Sabbath,” and so allow me to share with you here briefly an enriching insight from Rev. Vince Armin of the UCC as it has bearing for our faith as well as our spiritual preparation for Christmas.
Vince Armin suggests a non-traditional view of Sabbath rest. He notes that when God orders Israel to keep the Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) it isn’t simply meant to give us a breather after finishing our to-do list. Yes, rest is necessary when we have been busy, and God did rest after creating the world. But Armin points out that in the commandment, God references the Exodus, when God rescued Israel from slavery. The upshot is that Sabbath time is not meant for reviewing how much we have gotten done during the week, but for remembering what God accomplishes for us that we cannot do ourselves. When we are overwhelmed or feel out of control, a Sabbath rest is how we ask God to take charge again of our schedules, our priorities, our lives.
The twinkling lights, the joy of gift-giving, and warm gatherings are some of the things that make Christmas beautiful. But the real celebration arises when we recall how God chose to come down to us in real time to bless our real lives, because we are just not capable of saving ourselves. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). No need for spiritual feats or superhuman efforts to find grace. Jesus was born to us in a stable, and Christmas means we may find newness and wholeness as Christ is born in us.
During this busy season may we each take time to breathe! But may we also remember that God “delivered” on the promise of the Messiah. He is with us, and that provides us the deepest kind of rest – an abiding peace that passes all understanding. Merry Christmas!
In Christ, Candy