Dear Members and Friends of St. Paul’s,
Merry Christmas! Christmas, of course, lasts 12 days until January 6, so you may still be reading this during the Christmas season. I pray that you and your family and friends had a blessed Christmas celebration and New Year’s.
Even when Christmas isn’t the perfectly manicured event that we sometimes hope it will be—dinner is burned, family doesn’t get along, someone gets sick, we’re home alone, or countless other things—Jesus still comes to us. For me, that’s the wonder of Christmas. Despite everything going on in the world around us (I write this on the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting), Jesus still comes. In a world that seems to be increasingly hopeless, a world plagued by violence, war, hatred, and fear, Jesus still comes.
Much like the birth of any baby, Jesus doesn’t wait for us to have our lives together, Jesus doesn’t wait for us to be ready for him, Jesus doesn’t wait for everything to be perfect. Jesus comes, regardless of our readiness or worthiness, and nothing can stop what God has put into motion. But unlike the birth of any other baby, Jesus’ birth is a promise for us of our forgiveness and salvation. This child brings hope, not just for one family, but for all of creation.
It is this hope that is central to our Christmas celebration. We can rejoice because the Promised One, the Savior of the World, the Messiah has been born. He comes to us not as one who is rich and powerful with worldly authority, but as a helpless and innocent child, born in a humble stable. He doesn’t come as one seated on a throne or with a calendar full of meetings only with international leaders and dignitaries; he comes as one who is approachable and accessible both to poor, dirty shepherds and to kings from a faraway land. Jesus is our Savior, our Messiah, our Emmanuel, “God with Us”. Jesus comes to and for us.
Personally, this is the merriest Christmas I’ve had in many years. It’s good to be surrounded by family again. It’s good to be able to attend my nieces’ and nephew’s Christmas concerts. It’s good to be able to see their joy and excitement for Christmas. And it’s good to be planning to worship with all of you and with a whole host of musicians and musical ensembles this Christmas.
As we move into the new year, January 1 marks my one-year anniversary at St. Paul’s. It has been a great year of learning and getting to know one another. Meanwhile, a lot has changed in the way we interact with one another since COVID. Usually there’s a lot of fellowship events and time spent visiting with one another when a congregation welcomes a new pastor. But, our culture has changed in how much a pastor is welcomed into your home and your life. And on top of that, phone technology has changed—most Americans say that it’s harder now to make a phone call, maybe because the fear of interrupting someone has become a barrier to calling. Trust me, I feel this too.
So, moving into my second year at St. Paul’s, I feel like I still need to get to know you more. For some members of the congregation, we’ve spent quite a bit of time together. But for others, I don’t know all about your family, I don’t know what you love or what challenges you. I want to get to know you!
I promise you, if you call me at church, I won’t be frustrated or upset. I’ll be glad to hear from you! I am always willing to set up a time to visit to get to know one another better. The best ways to reach me are by email, text, or by calling the church. Even if I’m not in the office, Rosanne’s really good at knowing how to find me! She can point you in the right direction. I may not always respond immediately, especially if it’s Friday (my day off). But I will gladly make time to respond to you.
Part of the hope of Christmas is hoping for new life to come among us. We’ve made it through the darkest night of the year and the days are getting longer. It won’t be long before trees are budding and crocuses and daffodils are popping up from the ground again. At St. Paul’s we celebrated the new life of Christ born among us at Christmas. And new life continues to emerge at St. Paul’s as we recover from the pandemic and transition woes. I invite you to embrace this new life at St. Paul’s. Build or strengthen your relationships with me and others in the church, request a visit, try something new, get involved.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Rev. Jessica Hahn