Advent 2012 Pastoral Letter

Christmas is an elusive time for many.  In fact, I believe that if a poll were taken to estimate how many expectations for Christmastime entertained in the imagination were actually met or surpassed in reality, I’d wager that the number of surveyed would favor the disenchanted.  Why is this so often the case with Christmas, though? 

I am convinced that we expect from people and occasions far beyond their ability to meet the hopes for the season and in turn, we neglect if not altogether ignore, trusting in the only one who can faithfully meet our expectations far beyond the narrow limits of our imagination.  It is akin to “fighting for peace”.  It is a paradox that we celebrate Christmas, but fail to invite into the center of our revelries the Nativity of the One we are supposed to be in celebration of.

Now I confess that a part of my Advent is spent generating all sorts of high expectations for Christmas, too.  By the time Christmas evening rolls around, I am usually disappointed and spend a day or so afterwards in a state of disillusionment and frustration.  In my case, I find many individuals usually do not look forward to Christmas in the fashion that I do.  Although, I feel blessed to experience the wonder, mystery, music and meaning of the season; I am pained by so many that miss the point year after year. 

I also associate these feelings with the very same ones I have related to our Christian faith and tradition.  “If you could see what I see,” I often say to myself as I am discussing the faith with someone.  Knowing the “who”, “when”, “what”, “why” and “how” of our faith is paramount to experiencing a deep and intentional relationship with God.  It is the same with Christmas.  Taking the time to really dwell into the “who”, “when”, “what”, “why” and “how” of our celebration of the Nativity of the Lord will make all the difference in setting our expectations on Jesus, rather than on the frail, unfaithful and unreliable conditions of this fallen world and its inhabitants. 

I have spent a substantial portion of this year inviting people to experience the supernatural and unhindered power of God’s presence, promises and purposes.  In fact, I have coupled this message with that of sacrifice.  In suggesting that each of us count the cost of discipleship in following the Master, I would like to invite us all to consider 2013 as the Year of Surrender to Christ

In order for us to lose ourselves in Christ, we first need to have our hearts inhabited by the Holy Spirit.  That very same Person of the Trinity that conceived Our Savior within the womb of Blessed Mary is the very same Person that is eager to make of our shabby, filthy manger-hearts, His abode from this moment and on to forever.  Once He is wrapped in the swaddling clothes of our hearts, made tender through the irresistible power of His grace, we will be able to surrender all of who we are so that He may make of our entire bodies, His tabernacle, His dwelling place.  No longer will there be any part of “us” left as all will be His. 

It has been said that the first thing a soul must do to be free is to find its Master.  Only when we acknowledge the Master and render ourselves captive to His purposes and will, are we ready to experience genuine emancipation of spirit, mind and body.  May the liberation of your “Self” be the greatest memory you cherish about this Christmas in the years to come.  May it be said that we kept Christmas well because we knew exactly who to give our greatest attention and expectations for this season to.  May our upcoming Year of Surrender to Christ begin today as we sincerely acknowledge the One who was born over 2,000 years ago so that we would live forevermore.

It is in this blessed hope that my wife, Maiby, our family and this humble servant, pray your Christmas be filled with God’s presence during these blessed seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.  May His purposes and person be revealed to you in a mighty way in the coming year; and may you find peace in Him and may His word guide you, keep you and strengthen you each and every day. 

Always in Christ,

Pastor Daniel+

The Rev’d Dr Daniel Medina
Horeb Baptist Church
Advent 2012


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