January 2010 Newsletter

Dear Friends in Christ,

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims this challenging good news:

"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

Christmas and Epiphany invite us to celebrate the good news that Jesus is the light of the world. The prophecy from Isaiah declares "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light was shined." (Isaiah 9:2) When Jesus is just a small infant the priest Simeon recognizes him for who he is and praises God saying "my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." (Luke 2:30-32) When John describes the coming of Christ in his gospel, he writes: "The true light which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world", (John 1:9). And in John 8:12, Jesus makes this bold declaration about himself, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." When we light the Christ candle at Christmas, we celebrate that "in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:4-5) Jesus is the light of the world and he comes to lighten our darkness, to illumine our path, to fill us with his light.

Over the Advent/Christmas season we had opportunity as a a church to share Christ's light with the world. As we worshiped each Sunday and joined in special services and celebrations, we affirmed what the light of Christ means for our own lives. As ten of us traveled from home to home singing carols and bringing greetings in the name of Christ, we helped to spread the light of Christ in our community. As church members purchased and wrapped presents for children and youth from 6 families with limited resources (15 children in total), we brought light to the lives of parents who are struggling and helped to lift their burdens. We also brought joyful expressions, a Christmas glow, to the faces of the children who got to experience a season of good cheer. As Christmas food baskets were prepared for 41 families and gratefully received, we were blessed to serve as instruments of Christ's light and hope in a dark and often difficult world. Through our Christmas offerings, which go 100% to support missions, we end 2009 and begin the New Year by bringing light to those who labor to brighten the lives of others - the Community Action Agency of Dutchess County in Beacon, the Red Bird Mission in Appalachia and the United Methodist Committee on Relief in its International Disaster Relief efforts. Christ is our light and so we have life and hope and faith to share in his name. Christ is our light and he challenges us to be light in the world.

Often the Christmas season motivates people to reach out to others in loving ways. People give of their time and money more generously than in other seasons. The call to be light for Christ, however, is not a mission reserved for the month of December. Jesus says "You are the light of the world." We are meant to shine with his brightness, to show forth his compassion, in every season, in every circumstance. God waits for our devotion year round and our neighbors need the witness of worship. The sick, the shut-in, our senior citizens, need greetings of good cheer throughout the year. Struggling families need to know that someone is there for them not only at Christmas but always. Children and youth need signs of love every day. The poor and the hungry need to eat on a daily basis not just in the Christmas season. Worthwhile causes abound that rely on the support and generosity of others to accomplish their mission from January through December. "You are the light of the world", Jesus declares. It's an honor and a privilege to share Christ's light with the world. It is a challenge and a daily duty to let his light shine so that others can experience the glory and goodness of God.

In this new year, may Christ shine in you and may you be light to the world.

God bless you in 2010,

Rev. Peggy Ann Sauerhoff