Rev. Johanna’s Christmas Message “Have Yourselves a Merry, Mystical Christmas!”
For me, the season of Advent to Christmas morning is such a mystical journey!
It begins when I notice the first set of colorful lights aglow as darkness of the day enters. Lights like starlight shining all aglitter with a mystical aura. It is a season full of mystery, wonder and hope in which the lights remind me of the star that the Magi followed to find the Christ Child.
It is this light filled wonder that invites me to journey anew in the midst of the darkness of life, that speaks to the most profound experiences of our living: the yearning of long awaited expectations; the mystery of sacred presence; difficult journeys traveled together; labour pains endured in love; the hope of new beginnings as we open ourselves to experience once again the mystery and miracle of God with us: Emmanuel.
And in so doing while planning for the worship services for this season, I find myself rather in shock upon reading the Gospel lesson in Mark 13:24-37 where Jesus utters some rather dark warnings. It is peace and light I would rather read about, Jesus!
Yet Jesus confronts us with these uncomfortable things: suffering and pain, darkened sun that reminds us of the hard edge of our human condition. Oh, we would rather sing Silent Night, Holy Night, and Joy to the World rather than begin our journey in the reality of life itself. Yet it is in the midst of our hardships that Jesus calls us to be alert, ready, for it is there that we will meet the mystery and miracle of God with us: Emmanuel.
As a family of faith, we journey together in the harsh reality of the darkness in our lives: in our pain and sorrow, while holding one another in prayer; clasping hands around the bedside of a dying loved one, healing tears flow; reaching out in caring compassion; being the presence of love with family/friends fighting for their life with cancer; cradling one another in stories of joy lived; singing songs of faith to strengthen, words of scripture to comfort: for it is when we hold one another in such times as these we meet anew the mystery and miracle of God with us: Emmanuel.
As a community of faith, the rhythm of our spirit knows the depth of sorrow and the height of joy! Our faith is the knowing that we are not alone, that we do hold one another in that sacred space of God’s loving care and embrace; the promise of God coming to us as a vulnerable babe in a manger right in the midst of our human condition. “Come, O Come Emmanuel”: Come and hear and see the story unfold, the story of God’s love.
May you have a Merry, Mystical Christmas!! Blessings of Good Tidings,
Rev. Johanna VanderSpek
Rev. Johanna VanderSpek has been an ordained minister for 18 years. Prior to ordination in 1998, Johanna worked with children and youth as a Staff Associate. Johanna also enjoyed a career in the corporate world as a Research Statistician until she became a stay at home mom. She is now widowed, and enjoys visits with her son and daughter and their children who live in California and Ireland. Johanna comes to us after spending two years with St. John’s United Church in Alliston as their supply minister. We are thankful for the experience and gifts she brings and look forward to a fruitful year together