Well, it is that time of year. Thanksgiving has come and gone. We had some great friends and family gather together for our first Good Life Thanksgiving here in Bradenton. Beth did what only she can do. She cooked some amazing food and led us through some great traditions. We had a jar of approx. 200 thankful cards made daily throughout November by our family, and others who joined us. After dinner we, all 18 of us, pulled out a handful of the cards and read them aloud. It was a heart warming and touching time as it always is. We also pulled out the Thanksgiving journal in which each person writes the things they are most thankful for throughout the year. We also took a group picture and placed it in as a memento for years to come. As the weekend came to an end and all our friends and company had left it was time for the Christmas tree and lights.
Christmas is my very favorite time of year. I love the looks. The greenery everywhere, the lights strung out all over the city, the reds, greens and blues. I love the smells. Fresh baked cookies, apple cinnamon candles, and pine. I love the sounds, the Christmas music filling the radio waves, the anticipation in the air, movies like Elf, Fred Claus and of course A Christmas Story on the TV. A chill is in the air. By chill I mean the temp is in the 70s here in Southwest Florida. Brrr… What is there not to love about Christmas? Well, the reality is a lot for some people. While many are laughing, loving and making memories during this season, Christmas is a tough time for so many. For some it is a reminder of loss. Lost income, lost homes, lost relationships, even lost family members.
You see, the cultural celebration of the holiday is a blast, but it at best is circumstantial. Happiness during this season for many is reliant upon factors such as the economy, the back account, and the amount of stuff under a tree. For others, their losses are magnified by the fact that the stuff of the holidays can not fill the very real void they deal with daily.
As I sit in my living room, listening to Christmas music, starring at the illuminated tree and praying, I am being reminded by Jesus that my role during this season isn’t simply to enjoy the cultural holiday it has become. Rather it is to cling to the great hope that Christmas really is. It is the hope that became flesh when a baby cried out in the little town of Bethlehem and the angels rejoiced. It is the hope that God, who may have seemed distant and far away, was now among us and His life of perfection, ministry and sacrifice would change the landscape of the Earth forever. This story, this baby, this savior, is the real hope behind all the lights, all the trees, all the smells and all the gifts. Emmanuel, God with us… Now that is worth celebrating.
Praying that the focus of the Body of Christ is clear during this time and that the message we share and live out meets people where they are. Praying lives will be saved, hope will be restored, and pain and loss will be replaced by joy and laughter once again.
Good Life Church will have its 3rd and 4th Preview Services on Dec 9th and 16th at Tara Elementary School at 10:30am. The services will have a Christmas theme, including some Christmas Carol favorites and messages based on the Christmas Story! PUMPED! Bring a friend and come on out to worship with us. Children’s ministry is available for Babies-5th grade.