Picture Andy Williams on a snow-filled set for his Christmas television special. Cue music!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Well, that’s what the song says anyhow. But let’s be honest – for many in our neighborhood and for many in our church – okay, really honest – for many of us, the Christmas season is filled with pain and sorrow and truly difficult times.

I am not talking about the inconveniences of shopping mall crowds, the challenge of picking a gift for your brother or the hassle when one of the strands of lights you just hung on the roof eaves suddenly goes out (thank you for letting me share – it was very therapeutic).

No, I’m talking about the daughter who is experiencing her first Christmas without her father who unexpectedly passed away last month; the man who was just notified that the company is downsizing as they enter 2015; the wife and children who are wrestling to understand why daddy is choosing to move out just before Christmas; the person who has been on a job search for a year and finally gets an offer – in Texas, far away from friends, family and church; for the Hispanic folks who deeply miss their families in Puerto Rico, Latin America or South America.

For these, the “happy” songs of Christmas, the images of families gathering around the table (those Publix ads), the prospect of a Christmas tree devoid of gifts are painful. It is anything but the most wonderful time of the year. They are already looking to the New Year and a return to the mundane routines of life.

The message this Sunday is entitled, “Hope – When Life Hurts the Most.” The Lord has taken Pastor Dale an entirely different direction from the sermon he initially had in mind in order to bring a message of hope especially for those of us for whom this is a difficult season. You may be one of those people. You may know some of these people. Come and bring a friend in need.

In preparation for our time of inspiration this Sunday, let me encourage you to read the following verses:

  • Isaiah 9:6-7 – hope foretold
  • Jeremiah 29:10-11 – hope after the trial
  • Romans 15:13 – hope that brings joy
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9 – hope beyond our imagination
  • 1 John 3:2 – hope to be like Him
  • Revelation 21:4 – hope fulfilled

“Those who walk in darkness have seen a great light!” Come celebrate the message of Christmas with us this Sunday.

Pastor Jim

P.S. Christmas Eve services next Wednesday at 4:00 and 5:30pm. Greeters and Childcare Workers still needed – sign up in the lobby this Sunday.

L3: Love God – Love Neighbor – Lead Others

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