Greetings United Church of Christ family,
In the midst of the Advent season I have been blessed with the opportunity to join a small group of colleagues on a retreat. While there is some prayer and conversation when we gather and before we part, the bulk of the time is spent in silence. This is time for reading and prayerful reflection. I have come to treasure this retreat, which among other things allows me to experience Advent; to reflect of my hopes and expectations, my concerns and joys. This retreat time has enriched my experience of Christmas.
I am well aware that we won't all have an opportunity or the desire to go on a retreat, especially a silent retreat. Yet, I cannot help wishing and hoping you will find time, even just a moment to pause, retreat style, in silence throughout the season. Just as I have, you might in those moments hear the words of one of your favorite Christmas carols rise from a place deep within.
While on retreat, in the silence I heard this:
"How silently, how silently,
The wonderous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of God's heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in."
("Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" - words by Phillip Brooks, 1867)
May your Advent and Christmas abound with opportunities to experience to love of God in God's gift of Jesus the Christ.
Peace and Christmas blessings,
Geoffrey A. Black
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ