Thinking about it this week, joy is what's missing from Christmas for so many. We get so caught up in forcing happiness into what is really a sustained riot of consumer madness that we never really stop and reflect on just what Christmas does. It changes lives as the Incarnation is lived out through Christ's people. As we live with the knowledge that God truly is with us, we touch others with Christ's love.
I was walking by the communion table this morning and stopped to put it back into place. On Wednesday nights our girl's ministry "Child to Child" meets in the sanctuary so they use the stage. I was making sure the Advent wreath was placed correctly and saw the cross and crown of thorns over by the prayer bench. So I replaced it to the center of the table behind the wreath.
As I did, it struck me how many people were at the communion table with me this morning. Their gifts were all around me and would continue to give to the people at New Hope this Christmas as they had for years.
The cross was handcrafted by my father-in-love Curtis Clinard, whose talents are not only in shaping wood, but in shaping lives through his example as a follower of Jesus. The crown of thorns was given to me by my dear friend Reggie Gable. Reggie is one of the most faithful men I know and an inspiration in the way he lives out his calling. The covering of the table was made with love by Pam Roberts, who poured her life and her talents into New Hope for many years. And the table itself was here when I came 12 years ago, so that means people like Glenda Marcus, Larry and Brenda Powell, Larry and JoAnn Smith, and others who have moved are still giving to this day. Oh and the kneeling bench I retrieved the cross from? Handcrafted by Pam's husband J.C. I can look around everywhere and see the gifts they have given. I thank God for those gifts.
Advent reminds me - count it all joy.
Joy that we've been able to lead people to know Jesus as Savior.
Joy that we've seen lives changed and Christians sent out to serve in love.
Joy that we've had a chance to serve alongside some amazing people, even if only for a season sometimes.
Joy that God continues to speak so clearly even through the simple furnishings of this, His church.
Joy to be honored with the calling to care for this church and its people.
I count it all joy.
I realize now more than ever that today is the day we inhabit, and today is the day we need to rejoice.
So from a quiet New Hope sanctuary, I pray you receive all the Joy of Christmas.
Come see us.