Dear Friends,

Although I have yet to experience it myself, throughout this season of Advent I’ve loved hearing people speak of Christmas at Bethesda with such joy, awe, and anticipation. Between the music, the trees, the beauty of our sacred space adorned with greens and flowers, and even the large figures gathered at the crèche on the front lawn, Bethesda shines brightly with the message of hope and salvation. And I look forward to my first of many Christmases among you.

I’m not much for “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” bumper stickers. But Christmas without worship does feel rather empty. As if all our machinations and preparations and decorations have no real traction beyond looking pretty and making us feel good. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But what gives Christmas its depth and great joy is recognizing that God came into the world in human form to save us from sin and death. And that this knowledge fills us with that deep and abiding peace which passes all understanding.

When we sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” as we do each year, it is both an invitation and a declaration of our faith. We gather with one another and with Christians throughout the world to celebrate the arrival of the Prince of Peace. And what could be more joyful than that!

Whether you join us in person or online this year, I invite you to revel in the birth of our Lord, to listen to the message of the Christmas angels, and to respond with joy and gladness in your heart.