Shortly after finishing my blog today, I will be going over to Edison to pick up my mother who will hopefully be staying with us till New Year’s Eve. When I took my mother her groceries on March 13, I could hardly imagine that over the next nine months I would only get to visit with her three times. But today my mom turns 90 years old. We are gratefully looking forward to spending her birthday with her and then Christmas as well. When I reflect on my mom’s life and all the things that she has seen in her 90 years, 2020 has to be one of the most difficult years. My Aunt Laura passed away in May (her last living sibling) and mom was not even able to attend the funeral for her precious sister. I did have my wife Debbie record the funeral service and took my mom in September to have a little graveside ceremony for her sister at the Washington Crossing Cemetery where she’s buried. She also watched the funeral service which was very helpful for her in the grieving process and brought some closure to her painful loss. Many during this past year have not been able to grieve the loss of loved ones because of all the shutdowns and limitations placed on funeral gatherings and other events. This is also true for those that were celebrating some great milestone, like a high school or college graduation. Even those who were planning on getting married in 2020 met with many difficult obstacles. We can be thankful for God’s sustaining grace in our lives during the past year and also that He’s allowed us to stay connected with one another through electronics and modern-day technology. Where would we be without Zoom?
Even as we have encouraged folks to take advantage of our streaming ministry over the next few Sundays (at newdurhamchapel.org) we recognize that not everyone has access to an internet connection, so we are continuing to meet live with those who would like to attend. Usually, I put together a Christmas greeting that I share with the church family the two Sundays before Christmas, but this year I will primarily be using my blog to send you my Christmas greeting. I’m truly thankful for those who have continued to support and be part of what God is doing at New Durham Chapel in 2020. I would like to wish all of you true blessings and safety as you celebrate with your family and friends this Christmas season. Few things have worked out as we planned this year and yet our God stands with us and Jesus continues to use us as His ambassadors to touch hearts and lives with the kingdom message. I think of the first Christmas message that was shared with humble shepherds when the angel declared to them, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests,” (Luke 2:14 NIV). Think about how God’s favor has rested on us even in the middle of this unusual time that we have lived through. Think about the amazing speed at which the vaccines are now becoming available and the hope that by the end of spring (maybe even by Easter) many will be vaccinated, and life can return to a certain level of normalcy. It is my hope and prayer that all of you will experience a true sense of God’s peace as you remember God taking on humanity and coming in the form of a little baby with the intention of redeeming the human race. What an amazing thing it is, please don’t ever lose the awe of the message of Christmas that the God of the universe, who controls all of the heavens, cares for each and every one of us and has demonstrated His love in sending the Lord Jesus Christ. May the joy of Jesus’s love and presence bless your heart and home this Christmas season. Please let me know if there is any way I can help you or pray for you over the Christmas holiday, as we will be home for Christmas this year.
Merry Christmas to one and all,
Pastor Rich Sivo