It is with deep gratitude that we reflect on the year in New Zealand, beginning with the MPC school in January and all the treasures that were opened to us as the MPC team shared the gift of God's loving Presence, full of truth and healing. One of those treasures was growth in our friendship with Gino, Cesli, Sarah and all the MPC team members.
The comments of one person, echoed consistently by others, were: "The week in Lincoln (MPC) has been life-changing for me, and I know the others from our churches have grown very much in the Lord from attending." Others expressed being profoundly touched by God. A recent email I received said, "Those of us who were in Lincoln earlier this year remain challenged and growing in the ministry of MPC. We have bought the downloads from the Lincoln meeting and continue to meet weekly. This is reflected in our approach to the many pastoral issues and 'sorrows' of the people we have dealings with. And of course the healing and revelation in our own lives has been wonderfully enormous, in fact, huge, but guided by a gentle and loving Lord."
Other groups formed also to read, listen again to the teachings, and to pray for one another.
The news of the MPC team coming again has been received with great excitement, and we begin Advent with joyful anticipation of an April MPC school, this time in the North Island, in Wellington, our capital city.
As we prepare to celebrate the wonder of Christmas here in New Zealand, I'm drawn to Jesus' own words in John 8:12 (ESV Study Bible):
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of Life." John reflects this same thought in 1 John 1:5: "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we read: "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
Lord Jesus, Light of the World, we look to You this Christmas, thanking You for Your strong light shining through Ministries of Pastoral Care. Thank You for drawing us here in New Zealand into repentance and freedom from all those ways we have attempted to combine good and evil, overtly and subtly.
Leanne Payne writes on the last page of her book Real Presence:
The Christian view of the Triune God as well as the Christian view of man are in various ways jeopardized by a powerful intellectual thrust toward this synthesis. . . .
God is good. But modern man often seems bent on believing otherwise. His motive for doing so may be reflected in the confession of Orual in Till We Have Faces: "'Do you think the mortals will find you gods easier to bear if you're beautiful?. . . We want to be our own.'" The darkness in the world did not overcome the Light who came, incarnate, into the world. And it is this Light that enters into all who believe in Him. Of the utter purity of this Light none who know it will question. The whole burden of Lewis's writing , and of this book, is that we must become
. . . as glass
To let the white light without flame, the Father pass
Unstained. [Pilgrim's Regress by C. S. Lewis]
And this is the terror, and this is the glory.
Amen. Let it be so, Lord.
As we look to Him, this beautiful traditional carol seems to capture the essence of Christmas:
O LITTLE town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by:
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.
For Christ is born of Mary;
And, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his 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.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in:
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell:
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.
(Bishop Phillips Brooks, Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised)
A special "Merry Christmas" to each one of you, in Jesus' most beautiful and precious Name.