Christmas at Home
There is something special about celebrating Christmas at home. The warmth of family, the smells of cooking, the smiling faces of loved ones — it all brings back a flood of memories.
There is one Christmas that sticks in my mind more than others: Christmas 2017. It was the most memorable Christmas for my family members and me. What the family remembers and what I remember was not the gifts given or the toys bought. It was gathering around the dinner table and giving thanks for God’s care and for one another. It was also the last time I would be able celebrate Christmas with my mother. She died the next January.
I remember vividly how she laughed as we all shared memories and gave thanks and prayed with hearts full of love. That night I felt such deep gratitude for family, for God’s care and provision, for all of us together — praying, thanking and remembering.
This year has been an extremely difficult one for many people, and I again wanted to spend some time praying, thanking and remembering how God has blessed and continues to bless His mission.
As layoffs and hardships started to mount in the lives of our members during early summer, we began to plan as a conference for a significant reduction in tithe and giving. Yet God reminded His work continues. You can imagine my amazement as our May report said tithe and giving had actually increased! In times of trouble, God increases Hs blessings exponentially.
There was much disappointment this year when we learned we would not be able to safely host our annual camp meeting on the campus of Upper Columbia Academy. However, God spoke through guest speaker Lee Venden and provided hope in a time we needed it most as thousands of people joined us online. Night after night Venden brought us back to Jesus. It’s all about Jesus' "Search and Rescue" plan for each of us.
With much planning and prayer, Camp MiVoden adjusted how it operates and was able to host in-person campers this summer. In fact, Camp MiVoden was one of the only camps able to operate this year. Through God’s providence, the camp did not experience one positive case of COVID-19 all year. Praise God!
Though we couldn’t meet together in our physical churches, the work still continued. Members reached out to their neighbors and co-workers and shared God’s Word on a personal level. Pastors continued their work through Zoom online Sabbath services and church meetings. We still had baptisms!
The mission continues. God’s mission is unstoppable. Members, pastors, teachers and staff have found ways to keep our momentum going. We have heard that still small voice urging us on with new ideas and innovative approaches. But there is still much to be done.
Thanksgiving and Christmas have traditionally been a time of getting together with friends and family, but this year it may be difficult. Travel is restricted in many places. Many of us have elderly family members who are at greater risk for COVID.
This offers a great opportunity to reach out to members in your church, community and neighbors who may not have friends and family close by. There is no better excuse to reach out to others than Christmas.
As we bring this year to a close, we are reminded of the difficulties, the trials and the tribulations this year has brought. Yet at each instance, God has given an opportunity to fill those losses with hope and preparation for His soon return. His return is imminent!
May 2021 bring hope, healing and wholeness to your family. May you take the time to truly reflect on how He has blessed in your life. May you commit yourselves, now more than ever, to continuing His mission and bringing "One More" to His kingdom.
One day soon, we will gather around the throne room of the Father. With our loved ones present, we will praise, thank and worship the Lamb.
We will be home.