It has certainly been a white Christmas! My life is blessed with beautiful Christmas memories and it is always hard for me to “put Christmas away!” Often, I keep a Christmas decoration in my room because it makes my heart feel warm and bright all year long! In the theme of not letting go of the season, I would like to share the part of the Christmas Story that I wish I could experience. It is when the angels come to the shepherds who were living in the fields keeping watch over their sheep. If you have ever done primitive camping–cooking by campfire and having limited access to bathing for a week or so, you know what I mean when I imagine grimy shepherds sitting by their fire watching the night sky when suddenly an angel appears to bring “tidings of great joy which will be to all people . . . And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” I realize not everyone reading this shares my belief that this story is historical. But I hope you can enjoy that the story is about a baby who was prophesied to be born to affect history and humankind’s relationship with God. And that in the story, the angels did not come to the educated religious leaders, but to the dusty shepherds sleeping in the fields. I love to imagine their angelic concert in the glow of campfires and starlight. A different kind of white Christmas!
In the Christmas Story, the angel’s message is an inclusive one. The message was to bring peace and goodwill to “all”. The last time I looked, all meant all! Humans are of course imperfect and in the US we have a strong tendency to live as if we are acting out an “everything me” lifestyle as compared to one that reverberates “we are in this together” kind of thinking. As a result, “peace and good will to all” can be hard to find. Learning to listen and imagine a life different from one’s own seems to be a learned skill and many have not tried to develop it! The result can feel like we have a fractured society that may be missing out on new ideas and friends. Since the baby’s birth we celebrate at Christmas is supposed to be “tidings of great joy to all people, peace and goodwill toward all,” I hope to keep this message “out” all year in 2023!
Judgment was certainly not to be part of the Christ Child’s story. Unfortunately, living by the spirit rather than by rules is hard for many people and things have gotten messy over the years. But I hope we can still dream of goodwill to all. After 45 years of caring for and working with people I still glory in the times when things do get worked out for an ending where everyone grows. Sometimes things get uncomfortable for a season, because growing can be hard. But working together can lead to learning, growing and healing. And I believe inclusive goodwill remains a high calling for all of us.
When I think about our expansion at Hope & A Future, I imagine a place where people love, live, laugh and cry together. A group of people intending to “be in this life together” need to function something like a human body functions. Our bodies are made up of many cells with differing abilities. Scientists have estimated that we have something like 37+ trillion cells in our bodies. In utero, our Cells develop specific abilities. They work and communicate with each other to bring oxygen and nutrients to each of the 37 Trillion cells and remove carbon dioxide and waste from each cell. When everything is working, our bodies eat, work, sleep, laugh, love, learn, cry and express a plethora of emotions, thoughts and abilities. If any of the cells begin to develop wrong, eventually systems do not work well and we say someone is mentally or physically ill. But when all 37+ trillion cells are doing what they were designed to do we enjoy health. Neighbors that are able to live, love and laugh together are blessed people. They are not lonely, they share fun and sorrows and they know someone will be there for them. That is what we are working for at Hope & A Future. Most of the time it works! Sometimes we have to work through glitches. That is life. If we can work together there will be growth in the glitches! And that is good news!
So this month, let’s embrace growth in the glitches as well as the good and easy times. Growth is on the way!
And speaking of growth, please join us in our hopes and prayers for an exciting meeting with the Madison Planning commission this month! We are praying for a year of growth and expansion!
In the meantime, enjoy the snow or take a trip south! Happy New Year!