Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Prayer Update

Dear friends,

First, thank you all so much for the prayers, the encouragement, and the support I’ve received from many of you this past month!  I have had a number of very encouraging conversations and have been met with astonishing generosity. And since Thanksgiving, I have been able to visit and worship with three churches and even presented to two of them!  Moreover, I have been invited to speak at several new-to-me parishes in the New Year.  Incredibly, I can account for 49% of what I need to move on to the work in Kenya.  God gets the glory for this, but you deserve my gratitude as well.

Secondly, that means I still need to raise 51% of my budget before I can return to my ministry in Kenya.  If you know of people among your wider contacts, or even other missions-minded parishes, who would be excited to hear about what God is doing in Kenya and who might want to be a partner with me to make this ministry of theological education possible, would you be willing to introduce me to them?  I am willing to travel, though my work schedule means I need to plan ahead unless the opportunity is close to my Virginia home.  As you know, theological education is such an easy ‘sell’, in that we have the opportunity not only to touch and transform the lives of these young men, but given the strategic importance of the Nairobi seminary, we will be training the future leaders of Orthodoxy itself, not just in Kenya, but throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  My position at St. Paul’s University enables me to have a similar impact on the lives of the men and women in my classes there.  If you know anyone who might be as excited about this as I am, I would love to have them on my team!

Lastly, I hope that our Lord takes you by surprise this Nativity celebration, maybe as you stand in prayer one morning, or have a moment of quiet in a walk.  You know, that Baby changes everything.  All of the hurt, the anguish, the pain, the grief; all of the brokenness, the loneliness, the emptiness, the tears; all of the loss, the crying, the sorrow, the dying – we, like the shepherds, like the magi, find that God is here with us.  We don’t know how that Infant can be God’s Answer.  We don’t know how this little Boy can be God’s Savior.  We don’t know how this Baby can be God


But through Mary’s quiet pregnancy, through what for Bethlehem is just another woman in labor, God comes to His creation, blessing the cosmos as He takes on human flesh.  Heaven looks on and is stunned.  God is with us.  Immanuel.  Even as the innkeeper’s neighborhood, the little town of Bethlehem, the walled city of Jerusalem just 5 miles walk away, the world of the Romans and the nations beyond carry on as if nothing astonishing has occurred.  And even as we look, we too see nothing unusual.  A mother.  And her infant son.  And so it will be.  For His family. For the nation.  Even for His disciples.  Even on that terrible, dark day as they roll the stone across the tomb where His lifeless body lay.  Until three short days later when that same stone, and death itself, is rolled back, and Mary’s Son emerges from death in triumphant transfigured life.  The power of that moment has reached even us.  And now we too can have that moment of life-changing clarity, looking back upon His life through the transforming lens of Pascha.  We are able to hear with new ears what He says, and see with new eyes what He does.  And we are able to walk back, all the way to Bethlehem to that dimly lit stable, and see her, and her Baby.  We can stand there, in the quiet.  That night when everything changed.

Blessed Nativity,

Bill/Joseph


Dr. William Black
Orthodox Christian Mission Center
220 Mason Manatee Way
St. Augustine, FL 32086
877-463-6784
www.ocmc.org

If you would like to join my team and become a financial partner with me and support this ministry, you can do online by following the instructions found here:  http://www.ocmc.org/about/view_missionary.aspx?MissionaryId=41