Every year, the family of four in which I grew up would gather at the home of my maternal grandparents for Christmas Eve dinner prior to worship. It began when my grandmother would strike a match and light the candles on the table, after which we would sing a carol and my father would read the story from Luke 2 and then pray a traditional family prayer for that holy night. While I don’t remember all of it, one part has remained with me all these years. “And if, when our family gathers next year to celebrate Christmas, any among us are no longer at this table, watch over us until we all celebrate together at your table in heaven.”
Now the parents and grandparents are at that heavenly table, and my brother and I have gone to other cities to celebrate with our family’s next generation, I’m giving thanks that the prayer Dad prayed has been answered by the One who was born in Bethlehem and will be with us wherever we go and in all of our tomorrows.
Some from our church family are also at God’s table in heaven. Others are still coming to join us at its earthly end. And a few have moved to other locations where they worship and serve in new communities of faith. As we gather for another celebration of Christmas, I give thanks for the spiritual family God has made of us at St. Andrew. Your faithfulness, worship, service, and spiritual support have given glory to the Newborn King and brought comfort and joy to so many people, including our family, and in so many wonderful ways.
And as we cross the threshold into 2018, I also give thanks for another prayer we traditionally offer at St. Andrew on Christmas Eve. “Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” I know that God will also answer that prayer in a new year of life, mission, and ministry together, and I am once again filled with great anticipation of all that is yet to be, that by God’s grace in all our tomorrows, more friends and strangers alike will join the generations at the table of the Lord until we all celebrate together at His table in heaven.
With our thanks, love, and prayers for all of you, I wish you a blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with grace and joy in the life we share in Jesus!
Your servant in the ministry of Christ,