Christmas 2016

"The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light."
(Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16)

Dear Saint Barnabas Family,

At this time of the shortest days and longest nights of the year the challenges facing our nation and our world may seem insurmountable – I find it important to think of this moment in time as a chapter of the ongoing story of God's work in our world.

Much of both the Old testament and the New were written in times when it seemed that all the odds were against the people of God and their desire for justice and peace in the world. Many of the most comforting and prophetic texts were written by people living in times of political uncertainty, war, and even exile. Some of Paul's greatest letters were written as he awaited execution in prison. And it was at time of deep political and economic oppression when our God chose to be born into a poor human family to bring a message of God's love, healing and salvation to a broken world.  Again and again Scripture tells us that in the darkest moments, God shows us light.  God tells us that God's Dream of a world that knows justice and peace is unfolding right now, and that we all are a part of God's work in the world. For me, this unfolding story gives me hope. Hope that in the end, love wins. God's peace and justice will reign.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, the former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has said, "The Christian community is meant to be a mutual hope society, with each one offering courage to another whose hope has waned, insisting that even in the darkest of night, new life is being prepared." Maybe now more than ever, we all need, and our world needs, a "mutual hope society."  Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church continues to tell our sacred story so that together we will be built up in hope. And, it is important to remember that story isn’t static!

The New Year will see us continuing to settle into our renewed base for ministry. We will be listening for what the Holy Spirit might be saying to us through these renewed spaces about the next chapter of our story.

I do want to hear what any member of the parish has to say about your own, mine, or our ongoing story.

My office hours have shifted in the past year. I am now in the office Tuesday through Thursday (and Fridays when I’m not preaching the following Sunday) 10AM to 6PM. As always Carol will hold my Thursday afternoons and evening as a predictable period to make an appointment with me. Also, again as always, when I’m in the office my door is open. If you drop by I’ll be glad to see you.

The birth of our Lord and Savior reminds us that we are sons and daughters of God with him. We are baptized into Christ’s mission to love God and to love our neighbor. The Spirit inspires and empowers us to be “Christ’s Light” to a broken world.

May God richly bless you, all those whom you love, and all whom you are called to serve in Christ’s name, in this holy season and always.

Faithfully in Christ,

Paul+