Emmanuel, God with us.
This isn’t a Christmas letter. It’s a Christ letter.
It’s been a month of ups and downs… “God with us” is a reality in which I try to move daily.
God with us… I had a mother call me on the phone, crying. Her teenage son who is on my basketball team has been on a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior for months. He hadn’t come home for two nights. She was about to call the police and report him missing… could I help?
God with us… We brought back our Christmas party this year and 76 of our parishioners came. Way too many to have in our house. Thank you, Park Avenue Church, for letting us do it there. When Lisa mentioned that with the difficulties of logistics and organizing (and us getting old) the possibility that we may not continue it in the future, a number of our adult young men approached her offering to help keep it going.
God with us… One of our teenage young men was released from custody on probation after being in jail for a year. We are now helping him work at building a life with hope and prospects. A big answer to prayer!
God with us… His older brother, also a teen, was recently implicated in a horrendous crime and is facing serious jail time.
God with us… I was particularly blessed by the great grandma of one of our kids who we wanted to help out for Christmas. She has taken in three of her great grandkids who couldn’t be taken care of by their parents. When I asked her what we could do for her and her family for Christmas, she paused and asked me to use the money for someone else, she had enough to meet their needs. When I asked if there was anything else we could do for her, she asked for mentorship of her two young male children, who were being plagued by the vicissitudes of life as black boys in the inner city.
God with us… One of our young fathers recently acquired a steady job. He and his girlfriend and baby have been struggling with unemployment and homelessness this year. They have an opportunity to move into their own apartment.
God with us… Another mother calls me crying, because her teenage son is getting involved with a bad crowd and has no adult male influence at home to guide him in a positive direction. Would I talk to him?
God with us… The basketball team breaks into an impromptu happy dance when we go into a shoe store at the mall and they learn they can pick out a brand-new pair of basketball shoes, a Christmas present from some friends of ours. Instant self-esteem boost!
When I reflect on the last month, and the last year of ministry, serving God through being with people… I don’t qualify the various circumstances of ministry in terms of success or failure, victories or losses. Instead, I am overcome with a feeling of thankfulness. Thank you, Lord, that You see us through our trials and tribulations. Thank you, Lord, that we don’t have to go through this thing called life alone. Thank you, Lord, that You are with us.