LETTER FROM PASTOR KAREN

MIDWEEK MESSAGE FOR DECEMBER 2, 2020:
Dear Friendship and Heath Memorial UMC Families,
It’s hard to believe that this 37th Midweek Message is for December 2nd. In a little over 3 weeks, it will be Christmas. While on the one hand time has stood still during this Coronavirus Pandemic, on the other hand, we’re asking how did it get to be Christmas? We’ve barely finished asking each other, “did you have a good Thanksgiving?” While most people are answering, “oh, I had a good Thanksgiving,” or, “I had a quiet Thanksgiving,” I suspect the real answer is “it was weird.” It was the strangest Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade I’ve ever watched. Even my beloved National Dog Show was strange. The dogs and I watched “The National Dog Show, Indiana Jones, and the Last Crusade” and ate ham I cooked that no one was impressed with. This leads me to suspect that we will be using some of these same adjectives describing Christmas. All indicators are it will be a different Christmas from those of the past. Smaller family gatherings, if any, no Christmas parties/dinners in restaurants, if children visit Santa at the mall it will be socially distanced and no Christmas Eve communion services.
I had my virtual appointment with my asthma specialist Monday. Like so many of you, I had set my hopes on a more normal Christmas. The thoughts of being back “live” in the pulpit had me as excited as I was as a child on Christmas day when I got a new bicycle. Instead, I ended up feeling like Ralphie with the pink rabbit suit in “A Christmas Story.” “Karen, things are worse than they were when COVID-19 began. The cases are up higher than they’ve ever been. Today’s percentage of positive cases is 18% (keep in mind she wants them to be 10%), and we are about to have the worst two months ever. I’m still keeping you under a “medical work from home authorization” and we’ll re-evaluate on December 31st. I anticipate you being vaccinated in January because you’re on the “high-risk list,” and, hopefully getting you back “live” in your churches after that. In the meantime, I am your mother, your sister, your friend, and your doctor. And I am doing everything I can to keep you safe.” Which led me, like so many of you, to want to whine, “but, you can’t cancel Christmas!” And that is the truth. We
can’t cancel Christmas. Christmas is not about us, it’s about God. And God has spoken. I believe it’s time for all of us to remember just how powerful His word is. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
There was a time when God’s word had become rare. It was hardly ever heard due to the condition of the people. Does this sound familiar? Do we feel as if God’s word is rare today and does it have anything to do with the condition of people today? While that may be how we feel the writer of Hebrews wants us to understand
something. That is not the situation now – God’s word is alive! And more than that – His word is working! When God’s word was spoken our world was created, “Let there be light.” John reminds us that, “In the beginning, there was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This Word, which is alive and working, is Jesus. And the writer to Hebrews says that the Word, Jesus, cuts deep into us. He lays us bare all the way to our hearts
and there is no hiding from Him. Ask those who’ve tried. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Sell all that you have, give it to the poor and come and follow me. Love your neighbor as yourself. Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”
We had been hearing and seeing God’s word for several days during that Salkehatchie Camp. That night as I worked with our group during the Spiritual Life program, I posed a question. “Do you know Jesus?” I waited while they answered. Just about everyone had answered and then after some looks and poking this one young man stood up and gave his answer, “Yeah, I know who Jesus is, but I don’t think I want to know Him.” Why? Why
would he say he didn’t want to “know Jesus” as in having a personal relationship with Him? Because once you’ve
met the Word, once it’s been revealed to you, and you’ve been revealed to Him, you have a choice to make. How
much power will you give the Word in your life? It means changing everything about who you are and how you
live. And this young man didn’t want to change. What about you? How much power does the living Word of God, Jesus, have in your life? In a word, a culture, that seems increasingly bent on “canceling Christmas” and making certain the “Word of God” is rarely heard, are you willing to be a “change agent?” Do you refuse to say the “Word of God” is rare and seldom heard anymore? Do you refuse to say the “Word of God” has no power in your
life? Do you believe it is time for that “Word” to be spoken, time for that “Word” to be heard, and time for that “Word” to live again in all people and in this world? Then let God’s Word live in us, be spoken by us, and be heard by those around us. For God has spoken!
In His Love,
Karen