Merry Christmas to you and your family. I trust this finds you well. Warm greetings from my home in Southwest Florida. I’ve just spent a few minutes in the gardens cleaning up after a freak wind storm on Tuesday. The high winds displaced many of the larger bromeliads. The Tom Adams Bridge, about a mile and a half from my home, recorded a wind gust of 86 mph at the peak of the storm. Of course, I loved the adrenaline rush. I am grateful I had minimal damage at home. Welcome to a tropical Christmas!
Here on Christmas Eve, my Christmas tree is in the corner of the living room with an old surfboard propped up on the wall behind it. Afternoon temps are in the mid-70s. As I go about my day, a YouTube video of a fireplace on my television fills the house with Christmas music. And this Christmas, I am filled with joy and peace over how I see God at work in my life.
I marvel at the gift of God’s presence, not only at Christmas but throughout the year. In the highs and lows, he is here, with us. Emmanuel. God with us.
Recently, I read through Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. When the angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds, announcing his birth, the Bible says a multitude of the heavenly host suddenly appeared saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” (See Luke 2:14, ESV.) What a scene that must have been!
In the midst of this breathtaking experience, the heavenly beings declare peace on earth. Peace. Such a needed quality in their world and our world today. Peace. Harmony. Accord.
It is easy to forget the culture into which Jesus was born. The government mandated that everyone register for the census in the town where they were born. No exceptions. No religious exemption. Just make it happen. For Mary, seven months pregnant, ready to give birth at any moment, walking or traveling upon a donkey must have been a misery. Bethlehem was around ninety miles from Galilee, a trip that would have taken between four to nine days. Then, arriving in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary discover no rooms available to rent. The only accommodation, a cattle stall. How would you feel? Think about it, Mary and Joseph, teenagers, exhausted from the trip, far from anything familiar, giving birth for the first time, in a barn no less.
It is into this climate the heavenly host declares “peace.” In the midst of the chaos, peace.
Seems fitting for today as well. Wouldn’t you agree?
From that fateful moment in Bethlehem, God came near. God gives us peace through his presence with us. Emmanuel. He stands with us in the midst of the storm, protecting, surrounding us with his peace. Peace that cannot be taken away despite any government decree. Peace that cannot be removed by circumstances seemingly out of control. Just peace.
And so this Christmas, as I sit and enjoy the warm glow of the fake fireplace, I am grateful for peace. Peace that comes as a result of the awareness that the Lord is near. Peace in spite of a year that often felt out of control. Peace despite circumstances. Peace.
My wish for you this Christmas is the peace that passes understanding. May it be yours in abundance today and in the days ahead. May you be aware of the presence of God with you. Despite your circumstances, may you have this precious gift of peace.
We have completed the final edits of Sitting on the Lap of God: Discover the Father you’ve always longed for and are moving into the design stage. My goal is to have advance reader copies available in March to begin the pre-launch marketing. At this time, everything is on track. I expect to launch the book the week before Father’s Day in June 2022. It is a joy to see the project moving along.
Still no firm news from the Ice. Recently, I received instruction from the USAP to apply for the Special Invitation Visa from New Zealand. I have now received the approved Visa. This vital step clears the way for possible deployment in early January. I am still waiting for an official word from my supervisor. Most of the team departs Antarctica for home in late February, so this would be a speedy trip if it does work out. However, it is still possible it may not work out for this season. With the Omicron variant spreading like wildfire, I imagine there may be cutbacks similar to when the Delta variant surged this past summer.
It has been almost twelve months since I first applied for the team. What a roller coaster of a year it has been. My theory is that every great adventure has some adversity. The adversity is what makes it memorable. So I am grateful for every bump, turn, high, and low over the past year. I remain hopeful to be part of the team supporting the ongoing work of the National Science Foundation in Antarctica, whether this year or next.
End of Year Giving
Several folks have inquired about end-of-year giving. Some businesses also do matching gifts. Check with your employer if you are interested in this giving opportunity. Most companies will need to know that Timothy Mark Ministries is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and our EIN is 65-1054004.
Again, Merry Christmas to you and your family. I am looking forward to what God has planned in the year ahead.