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It’s hard to believe the end of 2020 is at hand, and I am sitting at my laptop typing out this year-end Christmas message for our constituency. This year has certainly proven to be a Hallmark presentation (much like the sappy movies that Brenda forces me to watch) full of plot twists, sudden storms, misunderstandings, crises, surprises, and unforeseen challenges. At this same moment last year, if someone had told me that 2020 would usher in the worst global pandemic of modern history, I would have laughed out loud. Well, I’m not laughing anymore, nor giggling, not even smiling these days very much. I often find myself tearing up.

Even though the past nine months have been puzzling and stressful at times, they have been rewarding, worthwhile and surprising as well. The pastoral leaders with whom I serve in this great District Network have impressed me with their resilience, perseverance, and determination to create new ministry and missional streams within the desert-like experiences of this pandemic. Just before Jesus left this earth, He gave everyone two incredible gifts. Jesus gave us His Holy Spirit as a comforter, counsellor and guide. But Jesus also gave us each other. As Christian brothers and sisters, we comfort, counsel and guide each other with words of encouragement, prayers of faith and acts of loving-kindness. I am so grateful for the family of God.

If you’re a typical male, you (and I) have purchased zero gifts at this point in the Christmas season. It’s not because we don’t care about our loved ones, it’s probably due to procrastination, and we have not yet gotten around to purchasing an acceptable gift for anyone, let alone our spouses (if you’re blessed to be married). If you’re like me, you faintly remember giving your wife something last year, but you could tell by her reaction to it last year, that she was not dreaming of getting an auto emergency kit, even though it was the deluxe model with booster cables and an air compressor! Gifts like these violate an important rule, but the typical male has no idea what this rule is, who made the rule, or why his wife was too upset to tell him about it. Just sharing the experience of a close friend!!

Well, let me close with an important point. Through His incarnation, Jesus demonstrated the critical rule of gift-giving. Your ‘presence’ is more important than a ‘present,’ a gift card, clothing, or tech gadget. Give yourself entirely and wholly to those who are suffering in the isolation of this pandemic. Being the ‘present’ may require some electronic support, but spend time with people you love and cherish, because everyone matters.

Brenda and I love spending time with leaders and labourers in our network. We look forward to the day when we can share a meal, laugh together, and look back over the challenges of 2020 and say… we were actually ‘better together’ – even with masks!

Merry Christmas, Everyone. It’s an honour to serve you as District Superintendent.