Happy New Year!
Grace to you and Peace from God the father, from Jesus Christ our Lord and savior, and may the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Tonight, I am sitting and looking out onto a wonderful winter scene. The stars are shining bright up above. The ground twinkles as if covered in a sea of diamonds. It is almost hard to believe that one week ago it was Christmas. The evergreen trees are full of snow. The poplar trees are bare and still. The air is heavy here. The temperature is around -33° F. Standing outside there is a quiet to everything. The rush of getting ready for Christmas has passed. No more meals to prepare for. There are no more presents to buy. The brightly colored wrapping paper has disappeared from beneath the tree. The echoes of the Christmas anthems have left our ears. Life, it seems, is catching her collective breath.
It’s nights like this that I dwell on the story of Mary and her giving birth to her newborn baby Jesus the Christ our Savior. All the preparation and the work and the anxiety and the stress of traveling far away seems to have ended. There’s a moment after your new child is born. A moment when all the chaos and the nurses and the doctor disappear and you are left with this baby. When the shepherds finally left Mary and Joseph I imagine there was a similar sense of stillness. Here they are this new family doing what families have done since the first family.
We are in a similar spot right now. The craziness of the season is over. There are no more hoops or hurdles to jump through. All the guests have left. Now it’s just us. It is good to have this time to catch our breath to breathe in and out. Because like Mary and Joseph we have a lot of work to do. The work of the church does not end on Christmas. It does not end when Epiphany comes. For us, you and me and everyone else, the work is just starting. I invite you to catch your breath. In the coming days we are starting something new. We all have work to do. We have to work to get to know one another. We have to rely on each other strengths and skills. We will be called upon to support one another. We will be doing things that will be new for some of us. While it may be scary or fill us with trepidation, we have a call to keep moving forward together. The stillness that I see outside right now is one that I know won’t last. In the coming weeks and months the sun will stay out longer. The snow will melt. The leaves will return to the trees. The sounds of spring and summer will fill the air and life will become hectic and chaotic again.
In the church will have Lent. We will have Easter. We will have Pentecost. Then we’ll be on to Summer. We will be ready. We will be ready because we have each other. We will be ready because we’ve taken time to catch her breath. We will be ready for the ministry that we have all been called to share. When we need to catch a breath again we have a place to do that. St John’s is a place to catch our breath. It is a place where we can find stillness. Where we can prepare to head out into the world again. I’m excited for the future of St John’s. I am excited to work with all of you as your pastor. I ask each of you as you catch your breath, to pray and discern where God is calling you in this great ministry we have together.
Pastor Caleb E. Jeffers