Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen 12-20-23

December 20, 2023

Dear Friends,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness . . . ” is how Charles Dicken’s begins his novel, A Tale of Two Cities. That is how I have felt these last few weeks. Even as the beauty, joy, and hope of the Christmas season pulls us forward, we have also borne witness to so much loss, grief, and suffering. There have been too many funerals recently, and on and around December 21st (the longest night of the year), this church family has reached out to comfort so many who have suffered loss in the last year. And, on top of our very personal joys and griefs, we learned that this week there were bomb threats to 300 Synagogues across the country, the terrible war continues in Ukraine, and the body count continues to mount in Palestine, Israel, and in our own country. Last week, on the Next Door App, there was a video of a middle school girl being beaten mercilessly by other middle school girls. Light and darkness coexist.

There is a lot of light in the world, there is a lot of darkness in the world. But finally, Christians are people of hope. We light a candle in the darkness because we believe that finally there is nothing “in all creation [that] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

No matter where we are on this spectrum of light and dark, we light candles. We light candles to celebrate God’s coming into the world. We light candles to bear witness to the hope that God’s light will overcome all darkness in the end. We light candles to help express our longing for God’s love to be born in us. We light candles to help hold to hope when we feel the darkness closing in on us. We light candles.

It is very easy to be so busy this time of year that we let the meaning of this season of hope, longing, and joy get by us without ever noticing the deeper truths that are present in the simple practices of worship and lighting candles. Don’t let that happen to you. Light your candles! Stop and pray that comfort will be sent to those who grieve. Stop and pray that peace will displace hate, fear, and war. Stop and pray prayers of thanksgiving for all that is good, beautiful, and right with the world. Stop and notice that God is God and we are not. Please don’t let the busyness of this season rob you of the opportunity to worship and to center yourselves in the truth of the story about how love has come to earth in human form. Stop. Pray. Light a candle.

See you in worship!
Ellen F. Skidmore

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