Wild Goose Chase December 31, 2017

Welcome to “The Wild Goose Chase!” The Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit “The Wild Goose” because it was untamed and smarter than any other bird.

Dear Sisters and Brothers: I’m sure you have some preconceived notions about what a pastor is and how he or she should live their life. And I am equally sure that some of you forget that we are human beings first. Far from perfect, subject to the same joys and pains that anyone is, subject to the same ups and downs. Christmas can be a challenging time for people in some ways.

I lost my Papa on Christmas Eve one year when I was about 26 or 27. That was a difficult time for me. I was not a committed Christian in those days and my healing journey took far longer than it might have had I been connected to God as I am now.

Sometimes we forget that there is both joy and sadness in people’s lives at Christmas, there are good memories and difficult ones. And that means that not everyone has celebrated a Merry Christmas. That is where you come in! You can bring a Happy New Year to the hearts of those who encounter you, if you will simply take a moment to smile at people, and to greet people, even strangers, warmly. For what you give in that moment may be their best gift of the season.

Back in 2009, I was dealing with many things in life, just like you do. Family and relationships that were far from perfect, work and finances. My counselor back then told me he thought it was a miracle that I was not very sick from all the pressure on me.

I still remember a gift I got that year; and it all came about because God was first in my heart. You see, being a Christ follower, a believer in both Christmas and Easter, as given by God, that does not keep you from having troubles or dealing with challenges, but it sure does make it easier to get through them.

On one special day just after Christmas, while doing hospital rounds I visited a young woman who was in a very, very challenging position in many areas of her life. She was dealing with some life changing health issues and had no real resources beyond her relatively new faith and trust in God.

That day she gave me a Card to say thanks for being her pastor and caring about her. A short time later, I got to my truck, started the engine and then sat there for a while. As I looked at that handmade offering of love, I lost it ... it was a simple envelope with a tiny candy cane taped to it and hand written "Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, Rev. Stephen." It moved me in a very powerful way. And so, on that day, I got my best gift of 2009, a reminder that God's love goes in both directions ... to and from the children of God. May we remember always that the young woman, that you and me, we are all worth love and care in the sight of the Creator, the Sustainer and the Redeemer!

Thanks for the reminder God, I will try harder to be who you want me to be. And to my friends who read this, may you too receive God's Grace in a way that changes your life, and lifts your burdens. Blessings!

Philippians 4:12-14 (NRSV):12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.”

Remember, God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it, except love back.

Still In One Peace,

Stephen

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