Merry Post Christmas!  Or Maybe we should start with Happy New Year, since that is more current.  But I am writing this on Boxing Day, so the glow of the Christmas celebration is still around us.  I hope yours was a true celebration of hope and peace, a true experience of love and grace.  Oh, sure there might have been a conflict or two, a hurt feeling now and then, but that’s just part of what it means to live in community.  People are people and often have trouble holding on to our better natures.  But it doesn’t mean that all is lost.  We can always try again, we can always forgive and move forward, we can always hope.
What’s Boxing Day you ask?  Well, it is a British celebration for the day after Christmas Day.  I’ve heard various explanations for “boxing” – none of which have to do with punching people in a square ring!  Some say it was the boxes of provisions that the servants were given on this traditional day off for the working person.  Others say it was the boxed meals that the landowners were given to sustain them with no servants around!  Either way, it was originally designed to be a recognition that not everyone gets Christmas off, so we thank those who kept the home fires burning by giving them the next day off.  It’s a way of recognizing the people you sometimes overlook. 
Who have you overlooked this Christmas season? Who can we send a word of thanks, a gesture of gratitude to today.  We don’t need to stop the good wishes because December 25th has come and gone.  We can keep it up all year round.
And that’s our intent for 2019.  To carry the hopes of the Christmas season, the grace of Emmanuel all year long.  We’re calling 2019 “A Year of Taking Jesus Seriously.”  Frankly, I’m exciting about what we have in store for the coming year.  We’ll be diving deep into the Word of Jesus and finding new strength for living today. 
 For example, after a somewhat traditional start to the year (with a Covenant service on January 6th and an exploration of Baptism on January 13th) our first worship series of the year is called “Showstoppers:

Proclaiming a Compelling Faith.”  It is designed to help us with the Why question.  Why believe?  Why Follow Jesus?  Why do we persist in what seems to many in our world today to be an outdated, anachronistic practice of worship and faith?  And we’re going to use the medium of show tunes to help us do it!  I’m stoked.  We’ll start with “This is the Greatest Show” and go from there.  You won’t want to miss it.

I’m looking forward to 2019, and part of why I am excited is because of you.  I am enjoying being pastor of a congregation that wants to love Jesus and love neighbor and goes out of their way to do both on a regular basis.  Because “Oh, this is the greatest show / We light it up, we won't come down / And the walls can't stop us now / I'm watching it come true, it's taking over you / Oh, this is the greatest show / Cause everything you want is right in front of you / And you see the impossible is coming true / And the walls can't stop us (now) now, yeah / This is the greatest show (oh!)”

Pastor Derek

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