December 31, 2021

Dear Emmaus Sisters and Brothers,

Grace and peace be with you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen!

As I sit at my computer and write this letter it is 5:54 am. on December 31, 2021, and I celebrate my 12,927th Fourth Day. Following my normal routine, I have taken the last God’s Promise of the year from the jar on the shelf next to my desk. The Promise reads: “I will show mercy to those who are merciful to others” which is from Matthew 5:7.

Several years ago, we gave each member of the congregation at Overdale United Methodist Church a fancy Mason Jar full of 365 GOD’S PROMISES as our Christmas gift and we have recycled our own ever since. We are therefore reminded daily that God’s Holy Word, the Bible, is full of His promises to us with the assurance that each and every one of them will come to past and be fulfilled!

Like many of the men in the Community, I struggled to fine just the right gift for my wife this Christmas. Jackie and I have been married for 58 years and we don’t need a lot of stuff. The basement in the house we rent is jammed with box after box of stuff we have accumulated over those years.

Jackie’s kitchen is filled with roosters, not live ones of course, but pictures, wall hangings, salt and pepper shakers, coffee mugs, and on and on. I’ve tried on several occasions to count them, but I always miss one are two. The rooster, of course is one of the Emmaus symbols which only added to the fact that her parents and grandparents raised chickens as she was going up.In preparation for the family gathering at Christmas, Jackie spends a month cleaning and decorating the house. My job is bringing up all the boxes from the basement and to help when needed. We have several throw rugs in her kitchen and my task once in a while is to take them to the Crestwood Coin Laundry to wash them since our washer is not made for that kind of work. As I picked up the rugs, I got to the one in front of our washer and dryer and when I picked it up there under that rug was another rug – one with a big ROOSTER.

That settled my quandary and I decided to buy her the plaque I found in the Christmas catalog. Written on the plaque is the following PROMISE: “Good Morning, This Is God. I Will Be handling All Your Problems Today” and of course there is a very handsome and colorful rooster next to this message! Jackie loved my gift!

Our worlds are indeed filled with symbols. In my previous life as a lay person in the Community, it was my pleasure and great honor to serve as the Lay Director on Men’s Emmaus Walk #12. This was without a doubt, one of the many experiences that the Emmaus movement has fostered in my life that made me the person I am today. I carry the memories of that Walk in my heart to this very day. And of course, at the closing of the Walk, I received, as is the Emmaus tradition, the bronze hand cross that every speaker on the walk held is his hands while giving his talk.

Yes, the hand cross is a beautiful symbol of that experience and I cherish it to this day. In fact, I hold that cross in my hand every morning as I have my personal devotions and Bible reading. It serves as a reminder of the gift that the LORD gave us in His Son Jesus Christ. In my travels overseas, I always carried that hand cross with me and I lost count of the number of times airport agents asked me to open my hand luggage to determine what that metal object was I was carrying. What a witness!

I believe I have mention before in previous letters Richard Foster and Renovaré, the spiritual formation ministry he founded and led for many years. As we seek to maintain our Community in these difficult times, I am reminded of a prayer written by brother Foster several years ago, one that I pray every day – “A PRAYER OF RELINQUISHMENT’ Prayers from the Heart:

Today, O Lord I yield myself to you.
May Your will be my delight today.
May Your way have perfect sway in me.
May Your love be the patter of my living.

I surrender to You:
My hopes,
My dreams,
My ambitions,
Do with them what You will, when
You will, as you will.

I place into Your loving care:
My family,
My friends,
My future.
Care for them with a care that I can
never give.

I release into Your hands,
My control,
My craving for status,
My fear of obscurity.

Eradicate the evil, purify the good,
and establish your kingdom on earth.

For Jesus’ sake.

The LORD God seeks servants to be sure, but those who are indeed humble. Foster’s prayer helps us to remember that fact.

Brothers and sisters, I encourage you to continue your involvement in our Community by your presence at Gatherings, your financial support, serving on the board of directors and especially by sponsoring pilgrims on Walks. Without new members we cannot survive. And of course, I encourage you to pray for the community that God will bless it and our efforts to revive and renew this precious gift from Him.

DeColores and Happy New Year!

Something extra: “How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.” — Benjamin Franklin