I trust that you are fully prepared for Christmas and looking forward, as I am, to the time with family, the exchange of gifts, and the opportunity to reflect on the depth of meaning of the birth of Jesus. This year Christmas has rushed on me with surprising speed and confusion, and while I am less prepared than I have ever been, I am certainly more ready than ever to celebrate the birth of my Savior. I remember, just a few short weeks ago, talking to some of our staff about how the year was pretty much done. I said, “We have Thanksgiving, staff retreat, Christmas Eve services, and then the year is over!” I couldn't imagine a scenario that would change the predictable and planned rush toward Christmas. Then everything changed, and those thoughts now present themselves as naive sentiments. Now the rush toward Christmas, rather than a chorus of meticulously planned activities, is like coming inside from the din of a storm to rest in safety at the feet of Jesus.
Before we begin Christmas Eve services (and the eve, eve, eve, eve, eve service tonight), I want to take a moment to thank you. In the recent weeks, there has been a depth revealed in this church that has been truly inspiring. Almost within hours of the crisis beginning, I saw God working clearly enough to begin looking forward to our chance to grow deeper as a congregation. Then I began to see God reveal a depth He has already been growing in this place. I have realized that, while the circumstances that have brought us to crisis are of the enemy, the work of God has been going on for a long time to prepare us for this season. God is not suddenly responding to our crisis; He has been long preparing us and is now revealing that He is still in control and is still drawing us to Himself. He is not surprised, shaken, or caught off-guard. Instead, He has been working in you and in me to prepare us for right now.
So, thank you. Thank you for being willing to be used by God. Thank you for taking so seriously your devotion to Jesus. Thank you for your love for this church. Thank you for helping us move forward when we stumble and for keeping your focus on following Jesus. I am proud (in the purest, most God-honoring way I think) to be part of this community alongside you!
In January we kick into a new season of seeing the vision lived out. We will build into our leadership structures so that there are helpful safeguards in place to protect our amazing staff, and will begin crafting our teaching team. We will continue to inventory our own lives and take seriously the challenge of pursuing personal holiness. We will engage in our Connect groups with a greater sense of mission and responsibility. We will shine the light of Jesus’ love into the world around us by serving those who need to be reminded that they are loved and valued. We will be Summit Church, wounded and wiser, following close after Jesus, and living out His vision for us with greater purpose. I am really excited to see what God does in this place as we move forward.
But for today, don't forget to buy tape when you buy wrapping paper, remember that we give to others because much has been given to us, and enjoy resting in safety at the feet of our Savior.
If I don't get to say so at the Christmas Eve services, have a Merry Christmas!