Pastor’s Letter for January 2023


Pastor Jim Martin of St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Weston, WV
Pastor Jim Martin

Howard Thurman was a theologian, pastor, chaplain, and a spiritual mystic.  His beautiful, thought-provoking poetry, devotions, and prayers inspire and challenge me.  He wrote a few poems which explore meaning of Christmas.   Since, we are in still in the season of Christmastide (think the 12 days of Christmas) until Epiphany on January 6th, I offer you Thurman’s poem:  “Lighting the World.”

Lighting the World

The light shines in the darkness

and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:5

I will light Candles this Christmas;

Candles of joy despite all sadness,

Candles of hope where

despair keeps watch,

Candles of courage for fears

ever present,

Candles of

peace for tempest-tossed days,

Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,

Candles of love to inspire all my living,

Candles that will burn all the year long.

–Howard Thurman

Christmas brings light into the world.  We celebrate Christmas to remember.  We remember the holy light.  We remember the birth of Christ.  We remember the traditions that have been attached to the day.  And we reenact them every year.  Most of us place a tree, real or artificial, in a prominent place and string lights and bulbs as other decorations and articles are unboxed and set up.  We gather with loved ones.  We celebrate, we worship, we eat.  We eat a lot.  We wrap gifts to be shared.  We remember loved ones who are no longer with us.  We remember.  We reminisce. 

But then, after an certain amount of time depending on your personal tradition, “Christmas” gets boxed back up and put away until the following year.   

Thurman’s words challenge me to live every day as Christmas.  The holy light is not to be boxed up (or placed under a basket – see Matthew 5:15).  “… let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16b, CEB). 

Beloved, with God’s help, I mean to keep the candles of joy, hope, courage, peace, grace and love burning within me and before me each day of this new year.  I pray these candles shine the good news of Jesus Christ and light my path into the future inspiring all my living.  How about you?

In Christ,

Pastor Jim