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I Survived My First SMBC Christmas!

By, Matt Walton, Minister for Discipleship

I have always loved the Advent season. The weeks leading up to Christmas are a wondrous time. There are celebratory sights and sounds, smells and tastes that transport me into the feeling that miracles can and do occur at the behest of a God who stoops near to earth. I will admit, my first Advent with South Main felt at times like a whirlwind of celebrations. I did, however, have a few moments of calm in the midst of this season. I experienced moments when the veil was pulled back ever slightly and I caught a whisper of the Spirit’s work among us. I remember vividly my daughter Finley swaying back and forth as she read during Lessons and Carols and her smile walking down the steps of the sanctuary after the unending words of encouragement from her new church. I remember the Joy Banner slowly turning during the processional, the light catching its fabric and the crescendo of the choir’s anthem as Keith Messick paused at the foot of the platform. I was overwhelmed in that moment by the gift of Christ’s presence with us, and my tears were for joy. I remember my son Evan sprinting out of the sanctuary at the end of the service, carrying the light of Christ before him. I remember the one thousand Christmas party invitations I received from you, and I remember being treated like an old friend when I arrived. I remember the pastoral team Christmas party at Steve and Missy’s and the feeling of family around the table. 
 
I will remember my first Christmas with South Main as joyous and meaningful. I think there is a reason the Hebrew scriptures encourage God’s people to remember. We look back and recount the presence of God with us and for us. As we do so, memory turns to gratitude. Gratitude for God’s presence in the past teaches us to see our present circumstances with hope. For the God who has acted faithfully in the past is the God who is faithful now and ever shall be in the years ahead. As I remember my first Christmas with South Main I am grateful for glimpses of joy. I am grateful that my children found a place to belong. I am grateful for the gift of friendship so freely given. I am grateful for a church who faithfully bears witness to Jesus, who is “God with us.” Maybe survival is not the right way to title this post. Maybe it should read, “Grateful for church family at my first SMBC Christmas.”


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