Christmas people, greatly blessed

12/21/2005

“All who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.”  — Isaiah 61:9

The scriptural theme is clear and continual:  We are blessed to be a blessing.

From the moments when Abraham and Sarah heard this good word from God, God’s people have continued to live into this gracious reality. We are blessed that we may bless others. As we bless others, we are blessed. On and on it goes.

Isaiah sings the glorious prophecy: All who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. God’s light is under no bushel but high on a candlestand, overcoming darkness in every direction.

Isaiah sings to people who knew tragedy and grief, ruin and devastation. Isaiah sings as God replaces ashes with garlands, faint spirits with mantles of praise. God is coming to repair, to rebuild, to restore, to redeem.

We are uniquely blessed for we are living Isaiah’s song. We help and we are helped. We know the joy of welcoming displaced families and of forming new friendships. We make circles of prayer with those coming for assistance and those offering assistance. We know that in God’s economy, there is enough. In God’s family, all are blessed.

It is impossible to quantify all that has come to and through our local churches, districts and annual conference. Volunteers continue to stream in. The Council of Bishops launched a churchwide appeal for rebuilding church property and supporting ministry. The General Council on Finance and Administration, celebrating the generosity of United Methodists and the faithfulness of the Louisiana and Mississippi conferences, is encouraging additional support by all non-impacted annual conferences in 2005 and 2006 in an effort to strengthen the whole of our shared life. UMCOR continues to support our structure and staff for the long-term recovery effort.

In all arenas of our connectional life, blessings flow as candles glow. Thanks be to God for each of you, for your patience and perseverance, for your vision and your mutual encouragement. May all who see our life together sing with Isaiah, “Surely they are a people whom the Lord has blessed!”