Dear People of Bethlehem,
Happy New Year and Blessed Epiphany. As I consider the trek of the wisemen over hills and valleys, following nothing but one star in the night sky, I wonder if our current journey is much the same. The hills and valleys of this current life, the circuitous paths we have been traveling, seem without clear destination — other than a light in the darkness that we can only occasionally see clearly. And yet, we still travel.
We do so not alone, but in the company of one another. We face the harsh weather conditions and the uncertain path together. Because together we follow the same star, the same light in the darkness, the same hope in tomorrow. That hope is both tenuous and real, both evasive and certain. I give thanks to God to be on the journey with you, for throughout its duration, I have felt never alone.
As 2023 dawns, I find myself looking to the distant horizon, visioning who Bethlehem will become as we continue to claim our work to extend God’s love. Perhaps it’s time for an updated mission statement. I have been considering something like — “We are a Christian Community, Where All are Welcome under the Arc of God’s Grace.” Such a statement names who we have become together. Your council has recently been discussing the deepest needs in our surrounding community and how Bethlehem might be uniquely suited to address some of those needs. If you would like to add your thoughts to the conversation, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Now is a destination time, a moving forward time, a who shall we become time.
Perhaps the same is true in your own life. If you find yourself stretching forward at this time, we are here to celebrate your journey. If you are in a season of stress or loss, we are here to support you and offer our care and compassion. If you, like me, are doing your best to follow the light set before you, then welcome fellow traveler, I look forward to your company on the journey!
Lastly, I want to personally thank you for your grace in my life and for the gift it is to serve this congregation. My particular thanks for your generous Christmas gift to me. It was so very kind and deeply appreciated. I continue to give thanks for you and I look forward to 2023 in your good company.
Yours in Christ,