“Are you ready for Christmas?” Next to, “How do you like your new job?” (I am really enjoying it), this seems to be the question I’m asked most frequently at this time of the year. My mind immediately runs through the list of the usual Christmas preparations. The house has to be prepared to receive the decorations. Furniture might need to be moved, things put away to make room for the trimmings of the season. This on top of the shopping, baking, lights, wrapping… it’s an endless list and a lot of work to make room for Christmas.
However, being truly ready for the hope and transformation that is offered through this season is a different question entirely; it’s spiritual work. Just as we make room in the house, so must we also make room for Christmas within ourselves. The challenge for me is always to slow down, and to take the time to move things around to create space, both in my calendar and in my heart, for the hope the season brings. It’s easier just to power through the to do list, without doing the real work of Christmas.
The words of one of my favourite Christmas carols. ‘O Holy Night’, are singing in my ears as a write this:
“the thrill of hope,
the weary world rejoices,
for yonder breaks
a new and glorious morn”.
There is some weariness in our world. It has been a year of change, and for some there has been loss, stress and anxiety, but yet, somehow there is also hope and rejoicing. Not just any hope, but thrilling hope. Thrilling hope for the future of our church, for the future of our regions, for the future of our congregations and even for ourselves. We all know that birthing something new doesn’t come without its challenges, yet we can’t help but experience the thrill of hope as we nurture that new life.
The Christmas season draws our attention to the birth of the baby Jesus, and at this time we can’t help to draw the parallel that as a church, our work this year has also been about birthing something new. God is in our midst, God is creating and recreating, bringing hope and joy for us even in our weariness. For me, the source of thrilling hope (and some of the weariness) is in the living into this new reality for our church. Meeting new people and establishing new relationships, living into a new role and set of responsibilities, finding ways to enable ministry to happen in new and exciting ways. Looking back over the past year, we have accomplished some amazing things! There is much cause for hope and for rejoicing as we look toward the yonder breaking of that new and glorious morn.
None of this would be possible without all of you. Thank you friends for the many ways in which you serve the church, all the ways in which you care for the tender presence of God amongst us. May you be truly ready to experience the thrill of hope this Christmas season and in the coming year!
Treena Duncan – Executive Minister for the Pacific Mountain and Chinook Winds Regional Councils