Thoughts & Homilies from our Rector
Rev. Eric L. Miller
Rector Christmas Letter 2021
Dear Beloved of Ascension & Holy Trinity:
Delicate snowflakes rest atop shrubbery with the warm glow of light shimmering through the night. John the Baptist has come warning all to bear fruits worthy of repentance. Mary, the mother of God, has journeyed to be with Elizabeth, her sister, during both of their pregnancies, Elizabeth’s child leaping in her womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting. Yes, Christmas is nearly upon us, once again!
How will this Christmas shape your heart? We celebrate the vulnerable, precious gift of the Incarnation each year, and life continues on. But, how are our hearts different as we observe this annual festival of God with us? For, we know just how busy Advent and Christmastide can be, even during a pandemic! And yet, Advent and Christmas call us to wait and wonder, not push and prod through each daily agenda. Have we made room for the gift of Jesus within the stable of our hearts? How will we allow Christ to transform our lives, from our awakening to our sleeping?
2021 has been full of ups and downs; God’s love persists. Whether we experience elation, heartbreak, joy, discouragement, gratitude, or grieving, God’s liberating love persists. I am grateful to be among you as a follower of Jesus. I have great joy in serving as A&HT’s priest. Some of us are back in the building worshiping, some worship with us online, and I’m uncertain where others are. Know that I care about you, wherever you are, however you are feeling about life, I care for you and am grateful for you.
I am especially grateful for the leadership ministry of our 2021 Vestry. This Vestry is such a treasure to serve alongside. Remembering how Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt with their newborn son Jesus to escape Herod’s murderous rage, the Vestry designated the Wyoming-based non-profit Heartfelt Tidbits as the recipient of our Christmas offering. Heartfelt Tidbits connects the dots of congregations, schools, civic organizations, and businesses to provide what Sheryl Rajbhandari, Director of Heartfelt Tidbits, calls “the long welcome,” helping new families adapt to a new culture, language, technology, and job requirements. This ranges from learning English and finding an apartment to helping children enroll in school and college.
Sheryl wrote for our December newsletter, “I’m happy to announce that we’re finally starting to see Afghan families arriving. So far they’ve all been SIVs (Special Immigrant Visas). One person in each of the families served in the US military in some capacity. The majority of them don’t speak English but that hasn’t hampered their ability to communicate in one way or another. Some have called family or friends in other places to help with translation and the kids are learning quickly from English-speaking tv shows and apps. The Afghan families are eager to move forward with their life here and learn the language as quickly as possible. I love the joy and positivity they exude at each meeting. Despite the journey, they’re happy and relieved to be here. The kids are incredible. I love visiting them and reading a story that the entire family listens to. It’s been so long since we’ve met new arrivals that I forgot what it’s like to see their facial expressions when you show them items that they’ve never seen before.”
I invite you to give generously to helping displaced Afghan families settle into their new communities here. Our Endowment Team and Vestry decided to offer a matching donation of up to $2,500 for this vital ministry as well. I also invite you to pause and reflect on the gift of God’s love Incarnate through the birth of Emmanuel, God with us. From my heart to yours, have a blessed and peace-filled Christmas.
In God’s Grace,
Eric L. Miller+