First Third Conversations

And it's a wrap...

DoveA blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Holy Spirit Dove Window by Hickory on Flickr

As we face the new year, the holidays are just about all wrapped up. The Christmas music has lost its luster, the holiday treats are gone (and fresh veggies sound better than ever), and it is almost time to pack up the decorations for another year. It is just about time to call this holiday season a wrap.

But before we do, let's take a look back. How'd it go? Did you get lost in the holidays or were you able to hear the message of the season?

The holidays at our house was not typical. With a new puppy around the house, we held off on decorating and putting up the tree. So the “spirit” of the season didn't come from Norman Rockwell moments around the fireplace. Having simplified gift giving, I didn't spent much time shopping or hanging out at the mall, and for that I'm grateful. And I didn't even spend much time going to holiday parties. This holiday season was not typical in many ways.

But the message of Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas did find its way into our family and into my life. Singing in our church's Christmas musical meant weeks of singing the message of Christ's birth. And as we sang, I heard again the message of the story I've known but needed to hear again…

The descendants of Abraham were waiting for a word from God. They had kept the rituals and customs alive, but with each passing year their longing grew more intense, their hearts dull, and their anticipation waning.

And then God came. The creator of the universe came to earth, not in the excepted fashion -- as there were no royal announcements or regal celebrations -- but God came in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

God's promises were fulfilled, as God came to earth among the ordinary, in the midst of the everyday, with the birth of a baby.

That's been my holiday message this year -- God breaking into the moments of our everyday life. Immanuel, God with us.

And this message came in more than song. God’s promises broke into conversations at coffee shops and Facebook messages. Some were moments of joy, others invitations for prayer. Many were accompanied with tears; all were rooted in the daily activities of life. The Christmas message this year was proclaimed not in a pulpit but at the bedside of a friend's mom as her battle with cancer ended and her family released her into God's care. A tender, sweet moment we'd rather avoid, but that is sacred and beyond words. God is with us when we gather at the table and when we head off to work. God is with us in the goodness, and God is with us in the broken places.

As I face the new year, I'm not striving to lose ten pounds or go to the gym more often. This year I want to continue the spirit of the holiday season by keeping attune to God's presence among us, around me, and around you in the ordinary everyday activities of life. As babies are born, as people die, as friends share their stories and as we work and play.

God is among us as we heed the call to love God and love our neighbor in whatever way we can each and every day.

What will your new year bring?

Terri EltonAuthor Bio
Terri is passionate about young people and their families, and loves the church. No really! She's our Associate Professor and teaches with an eye toward developing leaders and leading change. She also serves as Director of the Center for First Third Ministry and hopes to help ministry leaders create environments that cultivate a faith that matters. Growing up in southern California, Terri discovered her love for the city, cultural diversity and the beach. You can usually find Terri running or biking the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul, or wherever she happens to be. When not moving, she's watching a movie with her husband or traveling with her two young adult daughters

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