Special General Conference Thoughts

Friends, in visiting with some of you about General Conference and the greater United Methodist Church, I am hearing good questions being asked about our denomination.  In my years of ministry, I have learned that when a few are asking question, it might mean there are others asking the same kinds of questions.  So, today for my reflection I’m going to share information about our denomination and General Conference that some are asking.

 First of all, we (The United Methodist Church) are a global church.  John Wesley, the founder of United Methodism was an Anglican Priest in England.  He did travel to our continent / nation once, but didn’t have a particularly positive experience, so he returned to England.  However, the faith movement that John Wesley started has truly encircled the globe in that the UMC is present and at work in more than 136 countries around the world.  Currently, the most explosive growth in the UMC is taking place in the continent of Africa.

 The UMC has a constitution and in many ways is structured similar to our own government.  The Book of Discipline is the “rule book” for our denomination and can only be changed by action of the General Conference.  General Conference is the gathering of lay and clergy delegates from all around the world that meets every four years to care for the “business” of the global church, as well as set the direction and focus of the denomination.  This global gathering is when amendments and updates are made to the Book of Discipline.  A side-note about General Conference is that the Bishops of our denomination are not allowed voice or vote at General Conference.  Their official role is to “chair” or lead the sessions. 

 This most recent General Conference was a “Called Special Session” to deal with the issue of homosexuality, an issue that has been growing in intensity since first being introduced into the Book of Discipline in 1972.  The Traditionalist Plan that was adopted at the recent General Conference, had several amendments attached to it.  As I understand it, the Traditionalist Plan, including the amendments, has been referred to the Judicial Council of the UMC (the Church’s Supreme Court) to rule on the constitutionality of the plan and amendments.  I believe the Judicial Council will meet in April.  Currently nothing has changed in the Book of Discipline.  The Traditionalist Plan is not set to be enacted until January of 2020. 

 In our church, Downtown Mitchell First UMC, there are people in our church family that agree with the Traditionalist Plan and there are those that disagree with the Traditionalist Plan.  The same can be said of most social issues of our day.  The beauty of our church is that long ago it was determined that our church would be a place where we want everyone to feel welcome and know they are loved by God.  This message has not changed.

 I would ask for patience as it is determined what exactly the Traditionalist Plan will mean for our denomination and our church.  Again, at this point nothing has changed and nothing new has been enacted.  But more than patience, I would ask you to continue to pray for our church (as we do ministry), our Bishops (as they provide leadership), and our denomination (as we continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ). 

 We have just begun the season of Lent.  This is a season of prayer, reflection, and self-denial.  May we truly be open to the whispers of the Spirit as we all look to the future of where God leads us.  Yes, in some ways it feels like we’re in a wilderness trying to find our way.  However, the story of God tells us that when there’s wandering in the wilderness…there’s a promised land on the other side.  May it be so for us!

Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

P.S. If you’d like to visit with me more about this, please call me and let’s set up a time.  I’d be glad to visit.

What's Really Important

Sharing the Love of Jesus with the next generation from the heart of downtown!

 It’s always interesting to note the events that helps put life in proper perspective for me.  It seems that every so often I need a “reality check” of what is and isn’t really important in life.  I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but every so often I find myself wrapped up in some issue in life that is sucking the energy right out of me.  But then something else comes along that feels like a slap in the face that gets my attention back on what really matters in life. 

 I remember years ago in a previous church, I was really struggling emotionally and spiritually with something.  It had me focused so clearly on the issue at hand.  About the same time our church hosted a missionary family that was back in America (they served overseas in a third world nation) for some time of relaxation and reconnecting with family. 

 The missionary family had a daughter the same age as our daughter, who was 6-7 at the time.  These two girls hit it off.  Early on Melissa, our daughter, was showing her new friend her room and our house.  At some point in the tour the young missionary family girl stopped at looked around and said, “Is this all yours?” meaning all the stuff in the house.  With the innocence and honesty of a child, our daughter answered, “Yes, it’s all ours.”  Talk about a humbling moment!  Those words were like a slap in the face that woke me up and helped me let go of whatever petty issue it was I was struggling with, and to realize how blessed and fortunate I really was. 

 Just this past week I had another such “wake up moment” in life.  I don’t know how many of you were tuned in to General Conference 2019.  I didn’t watch much of it, but I was concerned about the matters at hand and what the outcome could do to our denomination.  I was praying…I was stewing about it…I was focused more on it that I realized.  I was even playing the “what if” game in my mind, running through scenario after scenario of what might happen to my beloved United Methodist Church.

 Then I got a phone call Tuesday morning.  There’s been a car accident.  A young church member has been killed.  Suddenly the noise of General Conference became just that, background noise.  Standing and crying with shocked and grieving parents and family helped put my ministry focus back where it needed to be, back on what is really important. 

 Yes, I was surprised and saddened by the outcome of General Conference.  No, we don’t yet know what all the outcome is going to be from the GC2019  decision.  But what I do know is that I have been reminded of what is truly important in life and ministry, and what I am called to do…which is not dependent on any General Conference action.  This calling is totally dependent on me following Jesus.  I have been called to “love one another”!  I have been called to be “light” in the darkness!  I have been called to “bring Good News” to a hurting world.  That is why I do what I do.  Really, that’s what we’re all called to do…as Jesus followers.

Bishop Ough was right.  For over a year he’s been saying, “The day after General Conference the sun will come up and the church will still have a mission to carry out.”  He’s right!  No matter your feeling on General Conference, we still have a mission.  Let’s do it!

Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

"A Real Person"

One of the biggest aggravations of our day, at least for me, is what is referred to as the “robo” calls.  You know, these are the calls that are some sort of scam or sales pitch.  “You have been approved for a lower credit card rate…”  Well, that’s interesting, Nancy and I don’t use credit cards much, and when we do, we pay off the amount right away.  “This is your final notice; your car warranty is about to expire.”  Great!!!!  I’m glad it is my final notice.  That means you won’t be calling anymore, right?!  And by the way, I haven’t owned the car you mentioned for about 5 years now.  “We have been trying to locate you.  You must call the following number to stop legal action from being taken against you.”  I’m so sorry you’ve had trouble locating me.  But I’ve been living at this same address for over 2 ½ years now.

 Most of these “sales” calls are computer generated, meaning it’s a recorded message that prompts you to push buttons to either talk to a live person or to purchase the product they are sure that you need.  Some of the calls I get are a computer-generated voice, and poor quality at that.  Anyway, I’m guessing many of you get the same kind of calls.  I just find them to be so frustrating because they are such a waste of my time.

 Recently, I answered the phone at the church with my usual greeting, “Downtown Mitchell, First United Methodist Church.  This is Pastor Keith.”  There was a bit of a pause, so I was expecting a sales pitch to begin momentarily after the customary, “Hello sir, how are you today.”  But instead what I got was, “Hello, you are a real person!”  I chuckled out loud and responded with, “Yes, I am a real person.”  The individual on the other end went on to say that she had spoken to so many answering machines, that’s what she had expected with this call as well.  Actually, she wasn’t selling anything, she was seeking.  She was seeking a real person to talk to, she was wanting an actual person to pour her brokenness and hurt out to, she was seeking some sort of person-to-person contact.  I’m glad I was the “real person” that she was able to connect with that day.

 I believe human touch or contact is becoming more and more important in our world.  In our culture of e-mails, video meetings, messages that disappear after so many minutes or seconds, swiping this way or that, in a world in which we spend so much time looking at our hand (or really, what’s in our hand), I believe the connection with a real-live human being is essential and is something so many people are longing for.

 If you read the stories of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in our Bible, in many of them you will find Jesus is touching, looking at, asking questions of, speaking directly to, noticing, sensing, reaching out to, stopping by, caring for, etc. people.  These are all intentional actions designed to help foster a connection with another human being.  This is why Jesus was so well liked…he was a real-live human being with others and he let people know he had time for them.

 Today as we each journey through our day completing our to-do lists, etc., may we take the time to connect with at least a couple people we meet.  Maybe it’s through a personal greeting, a smile, a gentle touch, really noticing the person, whatever it is, today, let someone know that they matter…and that you’re a real-live human being.  This is truly a part of the CARE aspect of our church that we each seek to live out.  I believe this is part of what makes a church effective in its ministries – personal connection.   You know, maybe I’ll even try talking, engaging with, or praying with one of the real-live robo callers I get today. 

 Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

Remembering Bible Presentation

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever.”              Psalm 111:10

 Do you remember a time when you were fearful of “The fear of the Lord”?  You had heard so many stories of God “smiting” people in the Old Testament because of the error of their ways, and you were sure you were next because of something you said, thought, or did.  I have that moment forever etched into my memory.

 It’s fitting that as I write this, Bible Presentation Sunday is a couple days away.  This is when the 2nd graders of our church will receive their Bibles.  It’s fitting because my story centers around Bible Sunday too.  If I remember right, we received our Bibles when we were third graders.  As you’d expect, I was so excited to get my Bible.  Craig, the only other third grader, and I stood in the front of our little country church and were given our Bibles.  I knew this was a special book, a holy book.  I was told this was God’s Word and that I needed to treat it carefully and respectfully. 

 I remember the excitement and awe of the moment as I was handed my very first Bible.  I went back to the pew where mom, dad, and my sisters were sitting, I opened it up for a quick peek, but I knew I couldn’t delve into the Bible until later when I was home.  So, once back home and after dinner was over, I ran up to my room and started paging through my Bible.  I discovered there were pictures in it!  I started quickly paging through the Bible to find the pictures, and that’s when it happened.

 I was turning pages quickly and carelessly, and all the sudden one of the pages tore.  This wasn’t just a little tear at the top, this was a tear down through the middle of the page almost all the way to the bottom.  OH MY GOODNESS…what was I going to do?  How do you fix this? I was convinced that I was going to be “smitten” by God because of how I had carelessly handled / treated God’s Word. That fear stayed with me for some time too. God was going to “get” me sooner or later. 

  Fortunately, I did survive that event and have come to learn that the “fear” that I was feeling in that situation wasn’t the type of “the fear of the Lord” that the Psalms was speaking of or looking for.  Oh, I did learn from that moment in my life, but I’ve also come to realize that God is more interested in how we handle the words and the message of the Bible in our hearts and lives, than in just how we physically handle the book. 

 The real fear of the Lord Psalm 111 speaks of, is a sense of great awe and respect for the holiness, the majesty, the greatness of God.  It’s a realization that God’s incredible power and love is real and impacts our lives yet today.  The fear of the Lord is more about tearing our hearts in humbleness and service than it is in fearfulness from tearing pages. 

 Today, my challenge to myself and each of us is to intentionally look for moments in which you sense the awe, the greatness of God.  Step into the awe…rest in the awe…because truly, that is the beginning of wisdom.

 Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

Walk Through the Darkest Valley

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

It is amazing how changing one word in a sentence can alter or effect one’s understanding of that simple grouping of words. For years…OK, decades, ever since I was a young boy, I’ve heard the 23rd Psalm a certain way; "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…" Yep, that’s how I first memorized that passage. I’m guessing that is how many of you memorized it too.

The word that so greatly influenced the way I viewed the passage was the word "death." Growing up on a farm and working outside with my dad brought me face to face with the reality of death on many occasions early on in life. Animals died. Favorite pets died. We had to deal with it. So, I was rather literal in my understanding of the 23rd Psalm. When verse four speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death…my simple understanding was that it was referring to when a person comes to the point of death in life. Not a bad understanding. God is with us at the end point of life here on earth. Again, not a bad understanding. I can see that would be comforting to know as one gets closer to that moment in life.

Because of this way of thinking, the first time I read a different translation of the 23rd Psalm in which verse four was translated, "darkest valley," rather than "valley of the shadow of death," my eyes and my mind were literally opened to a new way of considering how this passage speaks into my life. Even in the darkest valley, the place where life seems most difficult, where despair seems most real and evident, even in those places God is with me.

When I lived in Sturgis, one of my favorite hobbies for my day off was to go hiking in the hills. I’d start out the hike in the midst of the beauty of the day. The sun would be high in the sky and shining brightly. A great day for a hike! However, there were several times I was caught, mid hike, with the sun setting over the hill tops. It was amazing, and concerning, how quickly darkness filled the valley once the sun was hidden from view.

The above-mentioned hiking experience gave me a new understanding of walking through the darkest valley. It’s not that I expected to go there or to get "caught" in the darkness, but it happened. Sometimes that’s where our journey and life circumstances take us without our expecting it or planning for it…darkness

Darkest valleys… We’ve all been there. We all have them. Some of you as you read this article are walking in that dark place. You wonder, is there light enough to get through, will you find your way out, is there anyone to help, is there anyone that cares? Call me…Let’s talk…There is light!!

This week’s memory verse is a powerful reminder to every one of us, especially those walking in the "darkest valley," there is a source of protection, there is a source of strength, there is one who cares. God, the great shepherd is there; always watching, always guiding, always protecting, always leading the way through.

Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

The Greatest Command

Memory Verse:  “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

 Many of us grew up learning the Big 10 – The 10 Commandments.  Lots of “thou shall nots.”  I remember early in life thinking there is no way I could keep 10 Commandments.  The original intent was that these “laws” would guide people in how to live in a way that reflected values that were important to God.  When the Hebrew people come out of Egypt, they were used to being told how to live their lives.  They were used to the influence of Egyptian culture and the god’s or faith of the Egyptian people.  God wanted the Hebrew people, and others, to know that the expectations for living God’s way was different; thus the 10 Commandments.

Those 10 Commandments were expanded upon in the pages of the Old Testament, or the Torah, as our Jewish friends would reference their “Holy Book.”  In fact, they consider there to be 613 laws in the Old Testament, or again, in the Torah.  Years ago, I remember thinking that 10 was a lot of rules to follow.  Yikes, 613 would be way worse. Can you imagine trying to keep that many laws straight in your head and in your life?  I certainly would have trouble with it. 

 Then along comes Jesus, and as he often does, he turns things up-side-down.  As Jesus is preparing the disciples for life and ministry without his physical presence with them, he gives them an “update” on what they need to know.  Jesus doesn’t expand the current 613 laws the faithful are striving to follow, he shrinks it significantly…to just one!  “A new command I give you…”  

 This new command is one simple statement, “Love one another.”  Three simple words… “Love-one-another.”  Jesus even gives them an example or pattern to follow, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  This isn’t an impersonal directive, Jesus has led the way.  Jesus has set the example.  These aren’t just words, Jesus has set the tone for the kind of love he means.  In fact, in just a matter of hours from when Jesus speaks these words, he demonstrates ultimate love through the cross. 

 Jesus brings further light to the reason for this new command in that he says this one word, “love,” will become an identifier.  It’s how people will know who you are, or more importantly, who you follow.  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

 Jesus brilliantly and challengingly focuses our attention with three little words, Love one another.  It seems so simple, yet the reality is it takes so much thought and intention to live out this one command; Love one another.  This is a great memory verse for this week since our “Unafraid” theme has been “the fear of others.”  Not living in fear of others begins with Jesus new command, Love one another.   To make this new command personal, Adam Hamilton, in the book Unafraid, asks this question; “In the situation I find myself in, what is the most loving thing I can do?”  This command of Jesus is beautifully simple…and yet so challenging at the same time.  Let’s touch our world and let people know who we are …through Love.  “

 Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

P.S.  For further growth understanding this kind of Love Jesus is talking about, read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible.  (John has 39 references to love) Also read and study I Corinthians 13. 

Thoughts on Our Memory Verse

This past week our church has begun the “Unafraid” study.  This study and sermon series, will take us through Rev. Adam Hamilton’s book entitled “Unafraid.”  I feel this is such a timely study for our church family because fear and anxiety seem to be such a constant reality in our world, in our nation, and therefore in our lives.  The “Unafraid” study is intended to help us live our lives not overwhelmed by fear but by resting confidently in the love and strength of our faith in God.  Each week we’ll have a Bible verse to memorize so when the pressures of life, the pressures of fear arise, the verses can provide a calming or a different perspective than that of the world we live in. 

 This week’s Memory Verse is Philippians 4:4-7. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In this reflection I want to take a closer look at several words that jump out at me from the passage.

“Rejoice” Why would a verse that speaks of the reality of anxiety also contain the word “Rejoice?”  The word means “to be in a state of gladness,” sort of the opposite of anxiety.  Though anxiety can be all-consuming of one’s thoughts and attention in life, so can gladness.  We all have a choice to make.  Are we going to allow fear and anxiety to control our minds and our hearts, or will we allow gladness that place of honor?  Yes, it can be a challenge to do so, but gladness is the better choice.

 “Gentleness” One of the side effects of anxiety and fear in society is that it tends to bring out a “darker” side of humanity.  There tends to be more argumentativeness, more contentiousness, more incivility when anxiety is present.  This is exactly why “gentleness” is the order of the day.  It has a calming and positive effect in life.

 “Thanksgiving” Paul is speaking of the continual choice we have as to what we’re going to focus on in life.  “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Again, it’s hard for fear and anxiety to take over when thanksgiving and gratitude fills one’s thoughts and one’s heart.

 “Peace” This word isn’t about a lack of war or violence in life or in the world.  It’s so much more than that.  It brings an understanding of harmony and tranquility.  The word Shalom, or wellbeing, captures the spirit of what is being expressed.  This peace isn’t something we can create or generate.  It is a gift from God.

 “Guard” Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison.  It is likely that a guard was either chained to him or standing nearby.  The guard made sure Paul stayed put, but was also there to protected him from potential outside threats. 

 There are other great words in this verse too, but what really captures my heart is each of us having a choice in what we’re going to focus on in life.  Plus, God’s peace is able to “imprison” or guard our hearts from the threats that fear and anxiety stir up.   May we put all these words, and the entire passage, to work in our lives as we seek to live by faith and not by fear.  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”

 Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

New Years Resolutions - yes or no

Happy New Year!!  Yes, 2018 has quietly slipped away into the pages of history and 2019 is boldly before us proclaiming, or asking the question, “What are we going to do together this year??”  That’s a great question to ask…and especially a great question to answer.  So, what are you and the “new year” going to accomplish together?


Now of course, this is the season of New Years Resolutions.  You know, the resolutions, or goals, of losing weight, getting in shape, spending less, etc.  Certainly, goals are a good thing to have, but unfortunately it seems that many new years resolutions are broken or ended long before the end of the first month of the new year is over.  If resolutions work for you, that’s great!!  I hope you achieve all your new years resolutions. 


For me, personally, I stopped making new years resolutions years ago.  Yes, I still have something that guides me for personal growth and development for the year to come, I just state it in a way that works better for me.  What I do is pick a word for the year.  This is something I first heard about 4-5 years ago.  Simply picking a word to guide and focus one’s life and energy for the year to come.


Three years ago when I knew I was going to be moving and stepping back into the local church ministry, my word was “Do Not Be Afraid!”  OK…so that’s four words!  😊 But the point was that I knew there was going to be change in my life and I didn’t want to approach the change with fearfulness filling my heart.  Instead I read books and article concerning dealing with change, found Bible verses that I could lean on, and I talked to people, all things designed to help me be “less afraid” of the unknown of my future.  That focus helped me in many ways in that transition year of my life.


Yes, I have a new word for this year.  My word helps me reflect on and move toward the person I want to become, rather than focusing on negative traits, patterns, or behaviors that are already in place.  After all, I am a work in progress.  God is the potter…and I am the clay.  Part of my daily prayer comes from the hymn Have Thine Own Way, Lord, “God, mold me and make me after thy will.” 


So, how about you?  Do you have a word for the year?  Or maybe it’s a phrase.  Do you have something that will guide you and hopefully motivate you, or intentionally help you think about growth and positive direction for the year to come.  We’re just barely into the new year.  It’s not too late.  Actually, it’s never too late to find ways to allow God into our lives in order to help us become the people that God wants and sees us to be. 


Again, I say “Happy New Year!”  But maybe I should also say “Happy New Word!”  May this year and word help you become the person God created you to be.  Oh, and by the way, my final thought is this.  Find someone to tell your word too.  Allow that person to check in with you from time to time and ask about how your word is guiding and shaping you in this year.  Yes, it’s a risk to do this.  But it’s a risk that pays significant benefits in living into your word.  So, one final time… “Happy New Year!”  and “Happy New Word!”


Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

Beauty All Around Us!!

We’ve all survived the final winter storm of 2018.  There was plenty of ice, strong winds, almost a foot of snow, and now bitter cold temperatures.  Yep, sounds like a good old South Dakota winter storm!!  Yesterday, Friday, I got my driveway opened up, my pick up dug out, and I made my way to the church.  Dan was already there clearing sidewalks, etc.  But as you’d expect, the morning after a major winter storm, it was pretty quiet around the church. 

 At one point I was walking around the building checking things out, reflecting on the past year, praying for our church and our community, etc.  As I walked through the sanctuary some windows in back caught my attention.  They had formations of snow on the outside of the windows caused by the wind and blowing snow of the storm.  A couple of windows in particular caught my attention.  There was great beauty in the layers of snow and how the light shown through them.  Having my phone with my I took pictures of the windows and posted them on Facebook for the world to see.  Then as I walked through another section of the building, I looked out another window and saw another beautiful snow formation created by the swirling wind and snow of the storm. 

 These moments reminded me that there is beauty all around us, it’s just a matter of being able to see what is already there.  Sometimes that means opening our eyes.  Sometimes it means walking around or getting out of our comfort zone to experience or see something new.  Sometimes it means actually taking the time to pause and be open to the moment and the beauty that is present.  Sometimes it means realizing that beauty can be found in unexpected places or moments. 

 In just a matter of a few days a new year will begin.  There is always something magical about a new year.  Days and calendars that are mostly open, ready to be filled with whatever we chose to fill our days with.  We all have dreams of the good things ahead!  Yet, before we leave 2018, I would encourage all of us to take a moment to walk back through the year that is behind us.  As we meander through the happenings of the past year may we also be especially attuned to the beauty that has surrounded each of us. 

 Yes, it might be true that some of the beauty we see in our life or in our world has come about because of a storm, or some other unwanted and unexpected experience.  Yet, if we look close enough or deep enough it just might be possible to see beauty in those moments too.  My daily prayer for the year to come is, “God, help me see the beauty around me today.”

 Just think of how incredible 2019 will be if we all take the time to look for the beauty in the world around us each and every day!  Now there’s a New Years Resolution worth making!  Happy New Year!!

 Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

Christmas...it's a GOD thing!!

So here we are, Christmas is less than a week away.  This has been a really busy / full week for me.  There have been so many ministry needs to care for, and even a few unexpected situations that had to be added to the schedule.  I’m sure we’ve all had busy weeks.  It seems that’s the way it always is when it’s getting close to the end of the year. 

 In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of life and checking things off my “To Do” list, someone asked me a simple and thought provoking question.  They asked, “So, do you feel like it’s Christmas yet?”  I get what they’re asking.  You know, that sense of wonder and excitement about the season.  Wondering what gifts you’ll receive.  Anticipating the reaction of those to whom you give gifts. Experiencing the joy that seems to bubble out of the Christmas music, lights, and decorations.  Looking forward to time set aside from the busyness of life to simply be with family.  Yes, there is just something unique and special about this season that often creates a “special feeling” within a person. 

 My answer to the individual asking the question, “So, do you feel like it’s Christmas yet?” was simply…. “No.”  Whether they were anticipating that answer, I don’t know, but it was my honest answer in the moment.  Of course, then I had all the usual feelings; feeling guilty because I didn’t or couldn’t say “yes.” Feeling unsure, I mean what kind of a pastor am I…not feeling the Christmas Spirit yet?!  Feeling hopeful…I’ve still got time “to get” the feeling.  And so it goes…

 Later on I had an intriguing thought; “Christmas is not dependent upon how I feel about it.”  You see, Christmas comes whether I’m ready or not.  And that’s a GOOD thing.  No, that’s a GOD thing!  You see, Christmas is really about God putting in motion a plan to redeem the world, a path for all humanity to reconnect with the creator.  Christmas really isn’t about anything we can or should do…Christmas is about what God has done and is doing in our world to repair the brokenness all around us. 

 Yes, the Christmas lights and the music, the baked goodies and the gifts, the celebrations and the decorations are all fun and wonderful things about this season.  But they are all just a response, from a Christian perspective, to what God has already done.  John 3:16 speaks of the very first Christmas gift; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

 Christmas is almost here!  No, Christmas, the yearly observance, is almost here.  But Christmas, the presence (and present) of God is always here.  It truly is a gift that continues to touch our world. It is a gift that is simply waiting to be acknowledged, accepted, unwrapped and allowed to touch each and every person, each and every community, each and every life with the true love of God.  So, do I feel like it’s Christmas yet?”  It doesn’t matter…but the answer is “YES,” because God’s incredible gift continues to shine light into the darkness of this world…and into the darkness in my life!  Thank you, God, for your light!  Thank you, God, for your love!  Merry Christmas to All!  God is with us…God is at work!!!

Serving Together,

Pastor Keith