[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”4.7.4″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.7.4″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_column _builder_version=”4.7.4″ _module_preset=”default” type=”4_4″][et_pb_image src=”https://arumc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/gareth-harper-dABKxsPTAEk-unsplash-scaled-1.jpg” title_text=”nativity scene” align=”center” admin_label=”Image” _builder_version=”4.7.4″ width=”70%” module_alignment=”center” animation_style=”fade” animation_duration=”1500ms” animation_delay=”250ms” hover_enabled=”0″ animation_speed_curve_last_edited=”off|desktop” alt=”nativity” sticky_enabled=”0″][/et_pb_image][et_pb_team_member name=”By Gary E. Mueller” position=”Bishop of the Arkansas Annual Conference” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/bishopgarymueller/” twitter_url=”https://twitter.com/GaryEMueller” _builder_version=”3.27.3″][/et_pb_team_member][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.7.4″ _module_preset=”default” hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″]
I don’t need to tell you that life is tough right now. You know how much COVID has disrupted and destroyed so much. You have seen too many people ready to move on and not wrestle with issues of racial injustice. You struggle with the diagnosis of an illness that is debilitating, and may well take your life in the coming months. You watch people you care about deeply struggling on a daily basis with depression that zaps their joy until it dries up and blows away.
This deep pain causes many people to look at you in disbelief as you once again prepare to celebrate the coming of the One you believe changes everything about everything. They cannot comprehend how you can so naively believe God became human to give people what they absolutely need, but can never get on their own – a whole new life in God that begins now and lasts forevermore. They are convinced you have lost your mind because you believe the birth of a baby to two homeless parents temporarily finding refuge in a stable in a small town was a cosmic event that has fundamentally altered heaven and earth.
However, you don’t believe in God’s initiative at Christmas because you have seen enough evidence that conclusively proves it. You begin to see more and more clearly what God is up to because you choose to take a leap of faith to believe. And once you do, you discover how Jesus’ birth at Christmas blossoms into a sacred mystery that so defines your life it is to be cherished, nurtured and shared.
I have lived a long time and experienced a great deal; some of it on the mountain top and some of it deep in the valley. I am far from perfect; those who love me most know this best and yet still love me. I have diligently tried to be faithful with my mind and my spirit; I still fall far too short far too often. Here’s what I’ve discovered on my life’s journey. I need a Savior. The best decision I have ever made was to take that leap of faith to stake my life on Jesus Christ as my Savior who came, lived, and died to give life that is both abundant and eternal. This choice has changed what I see, know, understand, believe, and do fundamentally and forever.
No wonder I’m excited about getting ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth – no wonder I hope you are excited, too!