I would imagine that with just a few days until Christmas, many of you are busy wrapping gifts, buying gifts, preparing food, decorating your house for visitors, sending out cards, and many other seasonal activities. During the Christmas holidays, our already overloaded schedules get even busier than normal. Even for those of us who want to follow Jesus, it is a time in which we can get busy with the less important aspects of the Christmas holidays and, as a result, spend too little time on the most important aspect of the holiday, the reason for the season, the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Commercialism has hijacked Christmas for many and they miss the baby that was born in a humble manger. It is good to remember the infamous Grinch, who tried to steal Christmas, and the lesson he learned. In the memorable tale the Grinch learns that Christmas doesn’t come from a store … Christmas perhaps, is a little bit more.
It is my hope that the humility of the manger scene is a seasonal reminder of his love for us, for humanity. I hope that each of you have come to meet Jesus face to face and you know of this deepest love that has been reflected to humankind in the nativity. No greater love story has ever been told than the one of Jesus. Christmas calls for us to receive this love and respond in love to God and others. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Advent creates people, new people.” Whatever the busyness or stress of the season, hope and peace can be found in his love.
As we come to the end of 2016, and as I reflect on the year that has passed, it has been a year in which Kim and I have much to be grateful for. Our oldest daughter Brittany has just completed her practical nursing program from Conestoga College. We are very proud of Brittany for overcoming many health challenges in order to complete her course load. Brooklyn is in her second year at University of Waterloo and heading off for a semester of studies in Melbourne, Australia. We will miss her but are happy she has an adventurous spirit.
Kim continues her work with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in fund development. MCC does wonderful work around the world and Kim is fortunate to help raise money for the important work of relief and development. So many people are helped and sustained through the help of MCC. We are very fortunate to be partnership with MCC through the Brethren in Christ church.
If you have been around Westheights for a while, then you will know that the Christmas Candlelight service is one of the highlights of the year. And if you are new to Westheights – then you are in for a treat! It is a beautiful and moving service filled with carols, candlelight, and, of course, the Christ.
I would like to remind you that there will be no Christmas service on December 25th. I look forward to seeing you on January 1st, 2017. We might all be a bit tired but it will still be great to gather as the people of God on the first day of a new year and commit ourselves to another year of faith and devotion. I look forward to seeing you then.
It is my prayer that you will have a blessed season with your family and friends and that Christmas will also be a time to renew your faith. I am proud to be your pastor, you are a wonderful congregation and I am very appreciative for each one of you. May you have a most blessed Christmas.
From the Lesters