" And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors! Luke 2:13-14"
Listen to: Bing Crosby & David Bowie "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth"
It has been a long-standing Christmas tradition to share a year’s end letter in the Christmas card to catch up with loved ones. I always look forward to such letters; I am sad to see their slow demise. I understand though; our lives have changed. We don’t write letters like we once did. Our lives are busier than ever. It’s harder to figure out what to share, get the letters copied and so forth. So I sympathize but I realize it is a changing custom.
However it is worthy to note that at least 21 of the 27 books in the New Testament are penned as letters. The early Christian Community grew by people writing to each other between visits, encouraging and times correcting each other. What would we do without these letters? Letters deepen community. It is my hope that E-lift is that kind of letter. That over time, we have become a community of caring. If I may take the opportunity, I would like to share with you my Christmas letter.
Our year began with two wonderful miracles: a trip to Puerto Rico through the generosity of friends and the aftermath of Andrew’s car accident. His car was totaled and he desperately needed a new car to get to work. We reached out to the E-lift community in prayer. Before long a car was not only donated but so were enough funds that enabled the car to be fixed so Andrew could drive again. Thank you, E-lift community!!! And Praise God for touching your hearts and for prayers answered!!!
Perhaps the biggest development of 2015 came for me in terms of writing. Knowing my former life as a Barry Manilow fan during a difficult time of my life, Forrest gently & persistently insisted I go to his concert on June 17. This experience pried off the lid of memories long buried and I began to write again. I have not written steadily in decades. The result is a website www.moirajo.com with my first-draft memoirs “Barry Manilow & Mother T” (during this time I also met Mother Teresa as well) along with E-lifts and sermons for now. Thank you to Forrest and to my brothers, Mike, Greg and Mark for their unwavering support of this project.
While we attended Church conferences over the summer (International Conference of Community Churches in Dublin, OH, and “Martin Luther King Jr, “Unfinished Agenda” in Montreat, NC) we thoroughly enjoyed family reunions at Harbor Bay, Ohio, and at our nephew Matthew’s wedding to Elsie in St. Petersburg, FL in November. We joyously welcomed the birth of two new grand nieces, Halle and Emma.
Forrest and I continue to pursue certificates to become Spiritual Directors. What this year has taught me more than ever is making the effort to forge ties with family – be they blood or of spirit. We all need community. We all need a place where our story is safe.
Why do we tell Jesus’ story year after year? It is a critical faith story that is linked to our own stories. We all have stories of new birth. We have journey stories. Stories of being left in the cold but finding warmth in unexpected places.
It’s like the stories of other miraculous happenings, that we hear, year after year, that touch our heart. Because that’s how our lives are. The birth story in Luke’s gospel is God’s letter to us that our lives are a miracle. So always expect the unexpected. Family is found everywhere where hearts are open, loving and true.
The Scripture says Mary treasured and pondered these things in her heart (Luke 2:19). Mary was far from home, her village, her parents, from all that was familiar. She was in an unknown place, with a new husband, a new baby, relegated to a barn, visited by smelly shepherds. Yet she pondered and treasured these things. May our hearts be open to adventure like Mary and may we ponder the treasures and treasured of our lives during this season and always.
Prayer: God of Favor: Write on our hearts your message of love that can be read by all peoples. May they read loving-kindness, mercy, gentleness, patience, goodness, generosity, and blessing in my life. Amen.