Wednesday, December 31, 2008

See you next year!

We used to get a big kick of of saying that on the last day of school before Christmas break. "See you next year!" Like it was going to be a long, long time. I even remember, it must've been 1989, when we said "see you next decade!" (In 1989, nobody was asking, "does the new decade begin in 90 or 91?" Only people who graduated in 2001 ask this kind of question, it seems. The class of 2000 was way cooler.)

So, in the absence of anything more useful to say today, see you next year! (Oh, and Merry Christmas!)
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

January newsletter

This is a season for surprises. (The first surprise might be that, if you are reading this in the very beginning of January, Christmas is not yet over! It lasts for twelve days, remember?) Hopefully, for you, they have been mostly good surprises, like a free day off from school, rather than bad surprises, like getting your car stuck in the snow.

This is also a season for making plans. There are parties to prepare, family visits to schedule, and all the the business and busy-ness of Christmas and New Year’s. Now, as we begin a new calendar year, it is only natural to consider what might happen in the year to come, and to try to plan accordingly.

But because this is winter and we live in Minnesota (as I am learning), sometimes these two elements (plans and surprises) work together. Our plans are interrupted. Sometimes there is a snow storm, and we have to try to reschedule the Christmas program (again). Sometimes the storms are less literal, but just as real—a death in the family (either recent or remembered), or even just a little touch of a cold that keeps us from enjoying the holidays as fully as we had hoped.

In the midst of all that, in both the celebrations and the chaos, this is also the season when we remember that God often works in surprising ways. God often interrupts our plans and surprises our expectations. So instead of a mighty king, God comes to us as a tiny, vulnerable baby. Instead of a palace, he is born in a stable. His parents are nobody important, and his first visitors are poor, disreputable shepherds.

But the biggest surprises are yet to come. No, not the wise men, although their visit is surprising, since it demonstrates that this child is for everyone, even foreigners (even us).

The biggest surprise of this season, and of every season, is that God becomes human for us—and this will lead, surprise of surprises, to the cross, where the same Jesus Christ who was born in Bethlehem will die for our sake. And from the cross comes yet another surprise: the empty tomb!

This greatest of all surprises interrupts our plans just as surely as winter’s first big snow storm. Everything is changed. Glory to God in the highest heaven!

May God's love and peace be with you—and a Merry Christmas and Blessed Epiphany, too!

~Pastor Sarah

Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Yes, it is still Christmas. Yes, there really are twelve days. And yes, I intend to celebrate all of them.

My New Year's resolution is to actually post on this blog more regularly. I don't remember ever having had a New Year's resolution, unless you count the kind of things one always promises at the start of a new semester ("I will keep up with the readings for ethics class", "I will not write every paper at the last possible minute", etc.). So I don't know how it will go. However, for a start, I have decided to be less hard on myself with respect to what I actually write about. Sometimes, a brief chatty note (like this one) will have to do.

~Pastor Sarah