December 2023

Dear Chapel Family and Friends,

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Thank you to the many volunteers who helped decorate our campus, especially those brave souls who climbed up ladders and operated the lift to hang the Christmas lights.  Thank you to the team who facilitated another successful year with Operation Christmas Child.  Thank you to Matt Dobson for volunteering many(!) hours to rebuild the front porch on the manse.  Thank you to the team who set up and cooked for November’s New Horizons luncheon and our Thanks-gathering service.  Finally, thank you to the people who helped in the front office while Kourtney was away.

Advent is upon us.  For some, celebrating Advent is new, so let me offer a quick picture.  Advent literally means “coming.”  It is a time in the worship life of God’s people when they may focus on Jesus’ coming.  The first two weeks traditionally focus on Jesus’ Second Coming, and the last two weeks focus on Jesus’ First Coming at Christmas.  This year is a little unusual in that the fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve.

Advent provides opportunities for special spiritual practices for our journey of discipleship.  I recently heard a podcast by a pastor who read through the Gospel of Luke, one chapter a day, starting on December 1st.  Then, on Christmas Eve the gospel reading finishes so the reader has a complete picture of why Jesus came, what he did, and the promises he secured with His resurrection.  I’m going to try this myself.

For many of us, Christmas can be a bit sad, especially when your family is so far away.  For instance, thanks to a handy-dandy point-to-point distance map, I figured out:

  • Our son is exactly 3034.66 miles away.
  • Karen’s sister (our closest relative) is exactly 2300.88 miles away.

Karen’s birthday is December 26, and this year we are traveling to Bangkok to lead a retreat with our World Race Mission team.  On her birthday, Karen will be 9364.77 miles away from our son.  Can we say “thank you” to the clever people who invented FaceTime?

Over 2000 years ago people felt far away from God.  The prophets had been silent for hundreds of years.  The world looked grim.  Yet God performed the ultimate FaceTime connection by actually putting on, not just a face but a whole body!  As the Gospel of John puts it:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,

who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

We really enjoy FaceTiming, calling and texting our son, our relatives and our friends.  We even have weekly leadership meetings with our World Race leadership team, and we’re on different continents.  In fact, most days when we connect with our team in Cambodia, it’s already tomorrow there.  (I still get confused by the whole international dateline thing).

With all the technology and opportunities we have, it pales in comparison to a real, flesh-and blood-let-me-lay-my-eyes-on-you connection.  It just does.  It really does.

How encouraging it is to see that God knows this and became one of us so that real, flesh-and-blood people could get to see, hear and know God-in-the-flesh Jesus of Nazareth.  More importantly, Jesus promised that He will come again.  Here is the prophetic vision the Holy Spirit gave to John (yes, the same John):

God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.

They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning

or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Revelation 21:3-5a

Jesus came to us in the midst of our sin and sadness and proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  He will come again!

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas,


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