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Words of encouragement

Here are your weekly words of encouragement, from Southern Cancer Center’s “Bread Bite” series and Pastor Chad Price of Forest Hill Church in Mobile, AL.

Pastor Chad-
It’s amazing to me that we now sit at the threshold of a brand new year. I know 2020 has been an unusual, peculiar, trying and unorthodox year. At so many times during the 2020 journey, it was hard to just keep up with the ever changing landscape of our culture and nation.

And now, here we are at Christmas 2020. I’m not gonna lie; I love Christmas I always have. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you “Chad Price is a Christmas Elf.” I love the music, I love to decorate, I love the food and I love the traditions. However, it has been a bit harder for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year. For whatever reason – maybe the Covid 19 crisis, maybe the fact that I turned 40, maybe the fact that I’ve gained a little too much weight during this quarantine – I am just having a hard time.

At Forest Hill, the church where I am Worship Pastor, we celebrate the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas called Advent. I know many of you do the same in your churches or maybe you did as a child in your church. What I love most about Advent is that each week is themed to a different subject in relation to Christ’s coming as Messiah. The first week is hope, then joy, peace and finally, love. It’s really cool to celebrate Christmas in this way because, to me, it connects us to hundreds of years of church history as we celebrate Emmanuel, God With Us.

Yet, here we are at Christmas again in 2020 and this year has been fraught with negativity, strife and fear – all things that are the exact OPPOSITE of what Christ came to do when He became Emmanuel, God With Us. Peace on earth, Good will toward men is the message most associated with Christmas and this year it seems “Good Will” has been in short supply. However, I suppose it is these things that remind us how desperately we needed the message of hope that came on a “silent” night. The message of Christmas is, and always will be, the same: there is hope. There is life. There is a grace that transcends even the most grim of circumstances.

There’s a familiar scripture in the Book of Isaiah found in chapter 43, verse 2 that states: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” I think for so many of us in this crazy, crazy year THIS is the message we cling to. This is the hope we have in Emmanuel. As I said before, it literally means “God With Us.” And oh, what a comforting thought. That through the tumultuous year this has been God never left us. He has been right here with us and He will not let us be consumed.

So, what do we do with this Christmas? I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to pick myself up, sing Christmas carols, light the tree, celebrate with those closest to me and press on to find the joy of Christmas IN SPITE of the world around me. I invite you to do the same and to take heart! Let’s find the joy in this season together.

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