As I sit here writing in on a different computer, in a different office, overlooking a different street, I have the opportunity to think of how different Christmas was for us as a family this year. We found ourselves in a different home, a newer home which means a lot of changes for us, like getting used to level floors again having been used to the sloping floors of our Pembroke home built in 1883. My wife, Sandra, and I are now driving different cars and between the two of us we have lost six cylinders and four litres worth of engine capacity. Though I thought we might need to drive faster to keep up with city traffic, we have discovered that on average we are driving slower – to keep from ramming into city traffic, so smaller engines will work just fine for our new lives in Ottawa. Our boys are in a different school with different teachers and much less homework – hurray! And of course we are with a different church, quite a different church as it turns out, and one I am growing to love each day as the people of Fourth Avenue Baptist get used to me as their new pastor.
Yet despite all the changes in our lives, in many ways Christmas was familiar to us this year. With the amount of snow that fell in December it became apparent to me that winter in Ottawa is no shorter than winter in Pembroke. . . so no greater use of the motorcycle and no lesser use of the snow blower. Also, my favourite hockey team has done no better than they normally do (I won’t dare tell you who I cheer for!). Then there were the decorations that we put up, the same decorations we always put up, but in our new home. So there was much that was familiar for us this Christmas.
This also extended to our Christmas celebrations with our new church family. At our Carol service we enjoyed some familiar Christmas music, but with the “Fourth Avenue touch.” We enjoyed the Sunday School presentation, something familiar as this was part of our church life in Pembroke, yet new for us with a different crew of children and youth putting their enthusiasm into it. Same goes with the choir cantata, new voices, a new cantata, and new enthusiasm. All of these celebrations, including the Christmas Eve service, were wonderfully familiar and yet new for us this year.
But what was most familiar to us was Christmas itself. No matter how much everything around us has changed since moving to Ottawa, the central fact of Christmas remains: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” NIV John 3:16
Perhaps you have faced changes recently, or perhaps you are facing changes. Perhaps our city and our nation are both facing changes as current news reports waver between gloom and mild optimism. With the forces of change all around us as we enter a New Year, I trust that you can find hope in those things that do not change.
Sandra, my boys, and I are happy to be somewhat settled in, and although not exactly living in the Glebe, we look forward to life among you in the Glebe in this New Year.
(written for the Glebe Report January 2008)