The Rev. Eric L. Miller
With the birth of the new year we are still planted firmly in the middle of Christmastide. Christmas gives many of us a great sense of joy and wonder as we celebrate the ultimate gift, the gift of God’s love made manifest through the birth of Jesus. The candlelight Christmas Eve services have come and gone. We enjoyed the beautiful liturgies with all sorts of heavenly choirs at the two worship opportunities on the 24th of December. Our early service offered the time honored tradition of the Children’s Christmas Pageant with a Christmas story shared and candy canes given to all children. A family processed the infant Jesus figurine and lovingly placed into our creche during the 4:30 offertory. And, who could forget the singing of “Silent Night” by candlelight?
Indeed, our parish does a magnificent job of celebrating the joy and wonder of the Incarnation. But, now what? Many have put Christmas decorations away. I will wait until after the Epiphany to take down my exterior illumination. The children are headed back to school, and many ponder New Year’s Resolutions.
Part of the gift of the Incarnation is hope. God loves so much that we aren’t left alone, left to our own vices. Yes, God has always been present, whether through the prophets, the Son, the gift of the Holy Spirit. But you see, God still remains with us today because the Christ-child has been born within each of us. Beyond the trappings of gifs and trees and glitter, God gives birth within you and me. And, long after the lights are down, the gifts are exchanged, and the Christmas cookies have been exercised off, God is still within us calling each out from our comfort zones. Who is God calling you to become this year?
2016 was a rough year for many. For some, last year may have been magnificent. Regardless of our personal accomplishments and how we perceive world events, loved ones have gone to be nearer with the Lord. Many of my childhood celebrities passed in 2016. On a more personal note, my maternal grandmother, Joanne Givens, was laid to rest last summer. As I think about the gifts of the Incarnation, the gift of hope and the gift of God’s vulnerability with all of humanity, and as I reminisce on all those who left this fragile earth to be nearer our Lord in 2016, I pause to reflect on our legacy. “Miriam Webster” defines “legacy” as, “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past (Webster Dictionary App).”
How I live today greatly impacts what I leave with and for future generations, my legacy. One day may seem small and somewhat insignificant for some of us, but our individual days add up quickly into weeks, months, years, and decades. What’s our legacy? Put another way, how will the living of our lives impact future generations? What will people remember about us when we are long gone? Yes, I know these questions may sound morose to some, but we mustn’t walk through our lives blindly.
One of Jesus’ gifts to the world is hope; hope in a new way of relating to God and to one another, hope in understanding that God’s ways of love, justice, and compassion are bigger than any imperial authority. And, we have this legacy of hope from Jesus because hope is how Jesus lived his life on earth. If we want to leave a legacy of hope, then we must intentionally live hope-filled lives. If we want our legacy to be love and justice, then love and justice need lived and practiced on a daily basis.
What is our legacy to the world? What is the legacy our Ascension & Holy Trinity leaves to the world? How is the world a better place, a place full of hope, because of how we live our todays? We’re still in Christmastide. What has been Jesus’ legacy in your life? How does Jesus’ legacy impact our legacy to the world?
I look forward to living and loving an intentionally hope-filled 2017 with our loving and compassionate faith community. I’ll see you in the pews and on the streets!
In God’s Grace,
Eric L. Miller+