December 2017

Our son Daniel and his family have spent every Christmas with us since his wife Syrisa and the girls came to the U.S. from the Philippines in 2013. Our younger son Eliot comes home as well.

Daniel is part of a logistics unit supporting special forces operations in the middle east. He left for a six-month overseas assignment in November, so we’ll miss him this year.

Kaleb, the baby, is now an exuberant, strong, and strong-willed two-and-a- half-going-on-three. Exuberant and strong-willed enough that Syrisa isn’t comfortable taking him on a plane without another adult to help. I don’t blame her. We extended a Christmas invitation to her sister and brother-in-law, who also live in Tennessee, and they accepted. They will be her support for the trip, and fun to have around.

With seven guests our house will be very crowded. I know we can find places for everyone to sleep. But I hope we will all be flexible about the arrangements, and about sharing the bathrooms. I hope I’ll let myself relax and enjoy the chaos.

What are your hopes for the holidays? If you are like me, some of those hopes are mundane, perhaps even trivial. Some are less so.

Another of my hopes, always, every day, is that Dan will stay safe.

If you are like me, many of your hopes are the flipside of your worries. And the hopes you carry closest to your heart are for the people and circumstances closest to your heart.

All of our hopes, and the love and vulnerability behind them, extend outward in a web of compassion that touches people beyond our intimate circles – one another, our neighbors, strangers we will never meet. That web of compassion spreading over the planet gives me a different kind of hope.

I wish for you a holiday season that fulfills your hopes big and small. I wish for you a season of music, and a season of moments that bring comfort and joy. I am blessed and grateful to be your minister.Janets signature