Reading time: two minutes.
My thirty Christmases as a parish pastor didn’t go so well for me personally. Thanks to the Word of God, the blessing of the Holy Spirit and faithful teams of musicians, artists, cooks and other extraordinary servants, our congregations always had beautiful, joy-filled times of worship and celebration. People were filled with God’s gifts of hope, joy and peace.
But far too often, the pastor and his family, yours truly, had a far less rich Advent and Christmas season. That’s no fault to the Gospel or the Spirit. It’s the fault of the guy in the robe and collar who got in the way.
It’s my privilege now to pray for you daily and to offer the blessing of our ministry at Grace Place Wellness for just such seasons as this. I hope you’ll take a moment as you read this to learn from my mistakes over the years.
Our prayer for you this Christmas is for a season of the Lord’s richest gifts, even as you and your family sacrifice so much in service to those you serve so faithfully.
This is a season for drawing near to the Lord as we remember His world changing entrance into our humanity. What a tragic irony it would be if the bearers of that good news did not take time to revel in that good news themselves.
My prayer is that in your moments of anxiety over the extra sermons, choir rehearsals, usher schedules, decorating dramas, children’s program snafus and anything else that can add stress to your December is that you will pause for a simple, “Lord, have mercy,” a couple times a day. Remember that the Incarnate Lord is still present with you by His Spirit. Your baptism into Christ is a guarantee that no matter what goes awry, you are His dear beloved. Jesus came for you, too, you know!
I’m praying for your devotional and prayer life also, that in the busiest season of the year, you’ll find time for scripture and prayer, that the Holy Child would make His bed in your heart also. My sincere hope is that on December 26 you’ll be exhausted, but refreshed in the good news of the Savior’s birth, and that you’ll say, “Wow, that was tough. But it was so good!”
I’m praying for your family also. My poor planning and lack of discipline led me to be absent from Carol and my children far more than was really necessary. I hope your Advent and Christmas celebrations with your church family will be driven by the joyous and Spirit-filled times of worship and reflection that happen in your home.
And I’m praying also for your physical well-being and your financial wellbeing, that you would treasure first of all the gifts of the Spirit, and in moderation the gifts of Santa. I’m praying also that you would tend to your own need for rest, for recreation and for good food so that you’ll be at your very best when the Lord’s people need you. Sometimes a workout or a nap will do more good for the kingdom of God than a caffeine fueled 16 hour day.
At Grace Place Wellness, December is, naturally, our slowest month of the year, so it will be my privilege to devote extra time each day to my prayers for you.
May the peace, hope and joy of this season, which you so gladly share with others, be yours in full.
Thanks for serving. Thanks for reading.