Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
First, I want to give you all Christmas greetings from myself and my wife Averil in Battleford and our office staff in Saskatoon. I also want to thank you for your prayers and generous financial support during 2022. I am very aware of the sacrifices that you all make in your time and finances that allow GCI Canada to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our Canadian neighbours.
I must admit I had a challenging time writing my last letter to you, where I outlined our reality, especially when it came to our numerous smaller groups. But I was also encouraged by the response I got from that letter and the support many of you have shown with some of the items I mentioned in it. The next few years will be a challenge for us as a denomination. Yet I am confident that I will have many of what I like to term, “God thing” stories, to share with you in the months and years ahead.
One good news story I wanted to share with you today is the fact that we are hiring, full-time, elder Nova Musafiri to be our associate pastor at GCI-Ottawa. Nova has been an important part of the refugee sponsorship ministry in that congregation and will continue that work as well as assisting pastor Fraser Henderson with the growing congregation in Ottawa.
Back to Christmas.
When designing the enclosed Christmas card this year, I was trying to find an illustration that gave a sense of the vulnerability of the child Jesus. Often, we see illustrations of the baby Jesus surrounded by his earthly parents, along with the shepherds and perhaps a few angels thrown in. But this year I wanted to share an illustration of baby Jesus simply alone.
Reflecting on Jesus coming into our world as a vulnerable baby, I’m reminded of something that happened to me over 29 years ago. I was in my sister’s living room in Sault Ste. Marie with my family. We had just attended my mother’s funeral and as a family trying to decompress from the grief and sadness. I can still see my father in that room, feeling pretty beat up by the entire process.
My wife Averil couldn’t come to the funeral and be with the family at that time. She was also pregnant with our son, Liam. Knowing the sex of our next child, my father asked if we had chosen a name for him. To which I replied, Liam Montague Morrison Hall. (Montague for my father and Morrison for Averil’s father).
My father took a second or two to dwell on what I had just said, and then he broke out laughing and said, “Such a big name for a little baby!” That moment broke the grief that we were all experiencing.
I can’t help but reflect on the birth of the Saviour of all humankind, and think, such a big task for a little baby.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior (Jeremiah 23:5-6 NIV).
May the birth of this small baby continue to give you hope for today and forever.