Hey friends,

My name is Cory and I am the lead pastor at Westwinds Church.

Over the last few days, I've been reflecting on the sentiment of Christmas. This year has been full of change for my family and me. We moved to Jackson six months ago, and my wife and I got new jobs. Our kids started a new school, and we joined a new church. Our house has been under construction since we moved in. We have met so many AMAZING people but making meaningful friendships takes time. Change is hard. I've been hoping that some Christmas traditions will make the end of this year feel more normal. I am hoping a little "normal" will provide respite from this challenging year.

We found ways to celebrate the season, like decorating our tree, playing Christmas music, wrapping gifts, and admiring the neighborhood's holiday lights. I loved singing with Westwinds folks on Christmas Eve and celebrating Christmas Day with my wife's extended family. My parents are staying with us for the season, and SANTA DID COME!

Did you know that Christmas marks the beginning of the Christian calendar? Just a few days earlier than our western calendar. Practices vary around the world, but the traditions are similar in intent. This story is of a God called Emanual which means God with us. This is a reminder of His presence throughout the year and what we do can be a powerful trajectory for what comes later.

I like what Joan Chittister writes in her book, The Liturgical Year: "We do not come to Christmas to pretend that the baby Jesus is born again on this day. Nor do we pretend that on this day, the baby Jesus is born in some mystical way in us. We come to Christmas looking for the signs of Jesus' presence manifested in our own life and age, in us and in the world around us."

This year, I've seen the signs of Jesus in the generosity of folks raising money for a church HCAV system. I've seen people donate nonperishable foods to share with those in need. I've seen the signs around the dinner table with new friends. The signs are always there. Christmas teaches us to see them again.

Chittister goes on to say, "Christmas is not about a baby, not about sentimental piety, not about Christian fantasy… It stretches far beyond a manger in Bethlehem. It brings us to recognize who it is that we, like the people of Jesus' own time, will, in everything we do in life this year, either accept or reject."

Christmas is not about a baby, but it's not not a baby. Christmas awakens us to a way of life that uses power to benefit the powerless. While power typically is wielded in service of those who have it, this God chooses to give it up for those who don't. This year, can we move beyond sentiment and consider the way of a baby?

Christmas is not about sentimental piety, but it's not not about sentimental piety. Our Christmas practices awaken us to the structural systems that harm those to whom Christ is especially near. As our awareness of injustice grows, so does our capacity to enact change. Can we hold onto our pious practices long enough to enact change in our lives this year?

Christmas is not about Christian fantasy but it is not not about Christian fantasy. Jesus invites us to dream and operate within a world that is Good News for those who receive the least amount of good news. Christmas challenges the systems that harm our neighbors and invites us to do the same. As we dream of this world, we are empowered to co-create a new way of life together. Christmas awakens us to believe that another way is possible. This year, can we imagine another way is possible?

Babies are full of possibilities! This baby in the manger is no different. In the way of Jesus’ mother’s song, there is a chance that "the powerful can be pulled down and the lowly lifted." There is the possibility that the "hungry might be filled with good things." Or as Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, proclaims, "there might be light to those sitting in darkness" and that this way of the baby could "guide us on the path of peace." Oh, the possibilities for both the powerful and the lowly!

The sentiment of Christmas is not bad; it is good! It propels us into our year with eyes to see what God is really up to and how the truly good work gets done. The sentiment is not our escape from this world but a way to live within it. The sentiment helps us see and become the sign that God is with us. He is Emanuel.

May we move through this year with eyes open, not closed, and with dirty hands rather than bloody ones. May 2023 be a year that we are awakened to the divine light and receive the ongoing invitation to work toward the possibility of becoming Good News where there is the least amount of Good News.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! If I haven’t met you yet, I hope to soon.


Cory Doiron, Westwinds Church Lead Pastor