Dear First Pres,

 Smiling faces, pretty dresses, adorable children, worship-filled music and the powerful message of Jesus' salvation would be a few ways of describing our time together on Christmas Eve. As it was my 8th Christmas Eve service with the First Pres family, greeting you at the door brought so much joy to my heart. My love for you has grown deep and wide, and it puts into perspective the vastness of God's big love for us. You reflect Emmanuel, God with us, in a tangible way. Authentic community is a powerful way to experience the Lord's grace and mercy. People are messy, including myself, but the ability to demonstrate patience, kindness, and compassion to one another is a way we participate in the healing work of Christ.
   Proximity is the word that remains after another Christmas season concludes. I am beyond grateful for God's closeness and intimacy on a personal level as well as communal. Jesus is near and brings comfort when we feel the weight of the world pressing on our shoulders. He knows our hearts' desires and where we hurt most. He knows when we feel lonely or overwhelmed with grief. He is also there to celebrate the faithfulness of his people and the joy of seeing them become more the people he created them to be.
   We do not need the right words to say to be with Jesus, because the Lord is already with us. Jesus embodies healing and wants to deliver his people from the reality of brokenness. The Lord anticipates the day when all the defeated hearts will experience the wholeness of Yahweh's victory over death. God is the giver of new life through Jesus, which is GOOD NEWS! As Jesus dwells among us, our lives are changed forever. I hope these truths resonate with you in a new way as we enter into a new year. Now as we recover from the sugar hangover, I invite you to make time to reflect and pray for what is to come in 2019. May you consider these questions:
What does it look like to submit to Jesus' healing presence?
What would wholeness look like in my life and in our community?
What part of my story needs God's redemption & healing?
Where would I want God to be with me so I can be delivered from anxiety, fear, pride, addiction, insecurity, hopelessness, anger, or desperation?
   I pray for you to have the courage to invite other people along with you on the road to healing. Jesus never meant for us to walk this life alone. We can be the healing balm and comforting hands as we become a community that heals together. May it be so, Lord.


Director of Junior High Ministries