Redemption

Dear friends…

Will you forgive me if I feel a bit discouraged as we look toward the Christmas season? Will you forgive me if I don’t have quite the energy and excitement that I think maybe I should? Two years ago, I wrote this in the December issue of our Beach Breeze:

Can I tell you how excited I am? And I mean really excited. I’m talking about the kind of excited that kids get around their birthdays. I’m talking about the kind of excited that our dog gets when we get home.

This year, I’m not feeling that way. At least not yet. Instead, I’m feeling a bit run down by the world. I’m feeling run down by the growing flood of advertisements coming at me through the mail slot, bulking up newspapers, filling web pages, and overtaking social media feeds. All this comes at us immediately on the heels of the most divisive election in that I can remember, one where campaign rhetoric came at us through the mail slots, bulking up newspapers, filling web pages, and overtaking social media feeds.

I’m overwhelmed, and I want it all to stop. I want to withdraw into my own little cocoon and shelter in place. I want to hide. I want to put my hands over my ears and close my eyes and say repetitive and nonsensical words to drown out the cacophony. Because this doesn’t feel like Christmas. Whether it’s the political stuff or the advertisements and everything else, so much of what’s overwhelming me is – as I see it – intense narcissism. And especially when it comes to Christmas, I want to shout at the top of my lungs something phrased well by UMC Pastor Mike Slaughter: “Christmas is not YOUR birthday; it’s Jesus’ birthday!”

So, am I just being a Scrooge? In being discouraged and overwhelmed, in wanting to hide or shout, am I being the same kind of narcissist that I think I see in the world? Do I need to get over it and accept that this is the world we live in today and move on?

I’m not willing to do that. Even if I’m being a bit of a Scrooge, I think there’s room for faith; I think there’s room for redemption; I think there’s room for hope.

I hope that you will join me on this journey toward faith, redemption, and hope. Just as we know the story of a pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph journeying through ancient Israel, we may be reminded of our important emotional journey each Christmas season. This must not be a season focused on the best sale price, but on the gift of our redeemer and Christ. We can be reminded that redemption is possible, and the message is available to us in many ways.

We have already begun the season of Advent and our series exploring the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. We will continue to explore this story through Christmas to discover both Scrooge’s redemption and our own. And we can rest assured that redemption is possible. The foreshadowing is more present than we may realize.

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Did you know that Scrooge’s first name comes from an ancient story in our Bibles? In 1 Samuel 7, the prophet Samuel erects a monument stone after a particularly tumultuous time. He names it Ebenezer, an ancient Hebrew word meaning “stone of help.” Even knowing the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, we see that he has the potential to be a rock, a foundation, a cornerstone, a mainstay of aid to all who are in need. And if redemption is possible for Scrooge, let us be filled with hope that redemption is possible for each of us as well. Our faith and our sacred texts and our individual experiences of God offer foreshadowing that may be more present than we realize.

Let us join together to seek out faith and hope this Christmas season.

Grace and peace to you….

Bob
Pastor Bob

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