Christmas itself is grace. It could never have survived our own blindness and depredations otherwise. It could never have happened otherwise. Perhaps it is the very wildness and strangeness of the grace that has led us to try to tame it. We have tried to make it habitable. We have roofed it in and furnished it. We have reduced it to an occasion we feel at home with, at best a touching and beautiful occasion, at worst a trite and cloying one. But if the Christmas event in itself is indeed – as a matter of cold, hard fact – all it’s cracked up to be, then even at best our efforts are misleading. The Word become flesh. Ultimate Mystery. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not touching. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space/time split apart, a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God … who for us and for our salvation,” as the Nicene Creed put it, “came down from heaven.” Came down. Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see.
From Beyond Words by Frederick Buechner
These words lead me to hope that we all might “uncover our eyes and see what we can see,” and also know, feel and embrace grace coming down on us. They lead me to hope that we might be caught up by the wildness and strangeness of Christ’s coming to live in the world, our world, this crazy, confused, violent, agonizing, beautiful, wondrous world. They lead me to hope that somehow this year the church, which is you and I holding very close to each other, will take hold of the fact that it can never take hold of this news. It can only take hold of us. In fact, Christ already has taken hold and is inhabiting the world. And I am led to hope that we might again decide to be unafraid to join Christ there and with our eyes “uncovered” see that Christ is there with us, with us all, always.
May the joy of the Good News of Christ, the presence of Eternal Love and the Insistent Hope of Christ be with you, all you love and all you seek to serve.
The Presbytery Center will close for Christmas Eve, December 24, and reopen on Monday, January 5. If you have a voicemail or email message for me during that time, I will be checking and will seek to respond to your concerns or questions. Other staff persons will have their schedules and availabilities on their Out of Office responses or voicemail messages.
A Celebration of Service Honoring Stated Clerk Anne Bond takes place on Thursday, January 15 at Wellshire Church. This gathering will include a time to Meet and Greet Anne at 5:30 p.m., a program beginning at 6:30 and dessert at 7:30. You are asked to RSVP to the Presbytery of Denver by sending a check for $20 per person. You can also register and pay on-line here on the Presbytery website under “Events.” We also ask that you provide information to your churches about this great event.
The Next Presbytery Assembly on January 27, 2015 will be held at Calvary Church. It will be a full and important Assembly that will include: the installation of our new moderator, Ruling Elder Diane Ritzdorf, and our new vice-moderator, The Rev. Mark Vickstrom; the recognition of the ministry of our current moderator, The Rev. Dr. Dee Cooper; a report from the Interim Stated Clerk Search Committee; a recognition of our relationship with The Colorado Trust; updates on Committee on Preparation for Ministry policy redevelopment; debate and vote on changes to the Book of Order; information about allocations for mission partnerships and covenant communities; the election of synod commissioners; a presentation of and vote on a new Vision Statement for the Presbytery; and recognition of the service of Stated Clerk Anne Bond. The pre-assembly time will focus on the proposed changes to the Book of Order with particular emphasis on the proposed changes to the definition of marriage. More information about the pre-assembly presentations and dialogue and other items of business will be available next month.
A Retreat to Explore Your Relationship with God and How You Can Grow is being sponsored by the Presbytery of Wyoming, January 30- 31. Led by Dr. George Goodrich, Co-Executive Presbyter in Yellowstone Presbytery, it will be held in Casper, Wyoming. The cost is $50 for registration and three meals. Nearby lodging is available. Contact Steve Shive at the Presbytery of Wyoming, 118 East 9th Street, Casper, WY 82601 to register by Sunday, January 25.
Being Leaders: Living into Your Call is a special event for teaching elders, ruling elders and deacons, sponsored by the Council’s Leadership Work Group. It will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Brighton, on February 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Rev. James Gale, Coordinator of Theocademy, a discipleship and leadership training series for Presbyterians, will be the leader and there will be opportunity for exploration and dialogue about the challenge, opportunity and possibilities of being a leader in our congregations.
Swim with the Dolphins is a special trip offered by Montview Blvd. Church and to be led by Dee Cooper, August 2-8, 2015. Full information is found here on the Presbytery website under Events. Deadline for registering is December 31.
The Untamed Mind of Christ is an experiential wilderness immersion designed to help Christian men encounter, explore and embody the four facets of our innate human wholeness, the image of God, the Christ nature in our journey to becoming fully human. To be held August 14 – 16 at Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge in Grand Lake, its cost is $520, which includes guide fees, lodging and meals for three days and two nights. The guides are Dr. Brian Stafford and Associate Pastor at Grace Church, the Rev. Matt Syrdal. You can obtain more information by calling 303-548-0823, going to the website www.Eco-Psyche-Artistry.com or speaking with Matt Syrdal.
The hope for peace and reconciliation once again fills our prayers, following the murder of two police officers in New York City and with the fear that rises sharply in police departments across our nation. In this season and in the seasons that unfold in the new year, may we find truly new ways to heal brokenness among all people, offer comfort to the grieving and discover the pathway to wholeness in Christ.