Christmas Greetings from Paul and Janet Leeland
Friends and Colleagues:
Janet and I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas. May the joy and happiness we experience this Christmas with those we love be a deep source of enduring gladness reminding us of what is most important in life. This deep awareness of acceptance and love simply reflects the fruit of Jesus’ birth, that we will know the approval and love of God for us. Each sign of laughter, gratitude, and thanksgiving is a reminder of God’s joy in extending salvation and eternal love to us through the gift of Jesus, the Word made flesh, the visible image of the invisible God, Emmanuel – God with us.
The book of Chronicles tells the story of God’s favor from Adam to the reign of Solomon. The Canticle of I Chronicles 16:8-12, captures the uncontained happiness of God’s goodness towards us and our natural expression of gratitude for God:
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and
The judgments he uttered.
The emotions expressed in the canticle help us to appreciate the reverence of the magi and shepherds at the birth of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit exclaimed with a loud cry at the visit of Mary, “Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” This is our question also, how is it that the Lord God has come to us? Christmas reminds us, it is true, God is with us.
My prayer is that we will recognize the Presence of God among us each moment; our hearts will be filled with joy; those who preach this good news will be strengthened by wonder and happiness; and that we might live the Gospel life until God’s return in glory. Elizabeth continues her words of pleasure at Mary’s visit by acknowledging Mary’s obedience to God, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk. 1:45). May it be so with us as well – that we might be blessed this Christmas season by God for believing all that has been spoken to us.
Paul and Janet Leeland
Resources for Vital Congregations
Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor
GBHEM Leadership Resources
Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church
Englewood Book Review
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Ted Talks: The Golden Circle
Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability
Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability
Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians
Be A Disciple
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network
Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations
Living As United Methodist Christians
Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials
Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today
John Wesley Sermons: Anthology
Get Their Name
Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit
Canoeing the Mountains
Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People
Community: The Structure of Belonging
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
Institute for Emerging Issues
Congregations 4 Children
The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants
The Duke Endowment