Usually the first snow is a welcome sight, not today. Nerves are frayed as we go into this holiday season. Many people are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and now a snowstorm. It sounds as if it may be a couple more weeks before everyone has electricity. It could take well into the New Year before some experience any sense of normalcy. Yet there are people looking forward to rebuilding, to getting back to normal, to getting back all that they have lost. I wonder what that would look like. I wonder if we ever
want to return to the way things had been. I wonder if these two events have changed the way we prioritize and value our lives. Have we gained a new appreciation for what is important in life?
Over the past few weeks, I have learned it is not the quantity but the quality of our days that matters most. The gift that Hurricane Sandy has given us in the Metropolitan New York area is that of appreciating the value of family and friends, neighbors and community. I am so glad to see the response of church members towards other church members and their families. It is heart-warming to see how you respond to the needs of others, how much you care and how far you are willing to go. In the same token, you are challenging one another to go beyond our church family through community food and clothing drives and the Adopt-a-Family Program. In the process, you are witnessing the extravagant generosity of people wanting to help other people in spite of their own conditions. At times like this, it seems that the Kingdom of God is within
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I hea d a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home* of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;* he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away’” (Rev. 21:1-4 NRSV).
In spite of the events of the last two weeks, our world remains divided. There is still too much of “us” against “them” mentality. The past election proved this by the way the country divided on who they thought would be the best person to lead us over the next four years. Is there anyone who can pull us together in order to work for the common good? Will we continue to struggle against each other with our own priorities and agendas? It seems it takes a tragedy to pull us out of ourselves, out of our cocoons, our comfort zones in order to see the larger picture; what really matters. I have heard so many heartwarming stories about neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers during the past couple of weeks. I wonder how we can keep this alive even when the lights come back on, snow removed and homes are rebuilt. Will we learn from these events and covenant with God and one another that we would do better in the future?
As you can see, I have many questions as I approach this holiday season. The only answer for me lies in a manger in Bethlehem; a babe that came into this world in humble ways to parents of humble means. In the quiet stillness of that night, hope was born, a life given, a way made in the wilderness that ushered in a new way of living with one another.
Let us find ways to give thanks for friends, families and communities this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Do something extra-ordinary, creative and generous to let loved ones know that you thank God for them. May the peace of Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever!
I thank God for you,
Pastor Kathy Nealand
- Pastor’s Letter January 2013 – Inauguration Day (friendlychurchli.wordpress.com)