Merry Christmas!

We find ourselves nearing the end of what has been another difficult year in the life of the nation, our churches, individuals and families. The year began with violence at the Capitol Building that left many wondering just how secure America as a nation is. The COVID pandemic waned and spiked throughout the year, resulting in continued deaths and division among the people. Those deaths and division affected many in our churches. Gun violence in many large cities throughout Ohio and around the nation claimed lives in record numbers. Suicide rates and deaths from opiate addiction continued to rise as well. Most recently, we witnessed the loss of lives through powerful and deadly tornadoes in Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and other states. That was just one of many natural disasters that killed people throughout the year. All these things are causing many to ask, “Where can I find my hope?”

All the events of the past couple of years should be a good reminder to us that our ultimate hope is not found in the things of this world. Our ultimate hope is found only in Jesus Christ, who ushered in the time frame we still find ourselves in, more than 2,000 years ago when he came as a child born in a manger. The Messiah was unlike what almost all were expecting. Because of that, many missed him, both then and throughout the centuries. Christmas marked the end of the first Advent.

Today we find ourselves in another Advent as we await Jesus’ second coming. God has promised that something even better is coming upon Jesus’ return: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Isaiah 25:8, Rev. 7:17). In the new heaven and the new earth there will be no more illness, suffering, conflict, violence or death for all who have believed in Jesus Christ.

My prayer for all of us in Ohio Conference this Christmas season is that in the midst of all the darkness we find our faith, hope, peace and love in the one who came to save us from our sins and to give the gift of eternal life.

Dick Barrett
Conference Minister