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A Caring Call of Concern – Not CondemnationBy Pastor Wayne Zschech

December is a busy month. We seem to say, “I have to…” a lot in conversations. Instead of a joy, the holidays can feel more of a burden. In case that is where you are this December let me share a different perspective; being grateful for what “we get to” do instead of have to do.

I’m grateful Kate and I get to host the Advent Brunch in our home at the parsonage. This congregation is like our family and we truly enjoy the opportunity to welcome you into our home and hopefully introduce you to each other. I’m grateful for the opportunity to purchase a gift from our Advent Giving Tree even before I’ve figured out what to put under the tree in my own home.

I’m grateful that I get to drive 900 miles moving our daughter, Brie, home from school in Jacksonville after graduation this December. The 14 hours in the car together will give us the opportunity for father-daughter conversations and lots of laughs. The day after our return I’m grateful that all three of us get to serve as docents at the Interfaith Caregivers House Tour on Thursday, December 13 when we get to meet so many people who will be supporting this incredible ministry to those in our community who need assistance in transportation and respite care.

I’m grateful I get to be a part of leading and experiencing a Lessons & Carols Sunday with so many talented musicians and singers who provide us with such a glorious experience of Advent worship. I’m already thinking of who I can invite to join us.

I’m grateful we get to carol for our neighbors who endure crowded streets and closing car doors every Sunday as an expression of our gratitude and appreciation. Having a large congregation with no parking lot is not always a blessing to our neighbors.

I’m grateful that I get to lead three worship services on Christmas Eve and to see the faces of long time members who may not worship frequently, but wouldn’t miss Christmas Eve worship for the world. It is my secret Christmas joy!

Finally, and most importantly, I’m grateful that God really did so love this world that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us in Jesus, born not in a palace but a stable manger. As I reflect on this story I remember all was not peaceful, all was not great, among the people and nation to which Jesus was born. Yet, God came and dwelled among us. In Jesus, God experienced our joys and sorrows, our celebrations and our sufferings to reveal to us what God’s Kingdom way of life looks like. And now, this Christmas, and every day leading up to it and after, we get to share that hope, love, and joy with the rest of the world. I’m grateful for the Christmas story we get to tell, whether on a mountain, at the shore, or while waiting in the return line of the department store. I’m grateful that we get to remember and trust that in Jesus, Emmanuel, God truly is with us at all times and until the end of the age.

Merry Christmas!