By Derek Maul

“We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” (I John 1:1)

This past weekend there was a real sense of celebration at my church. Fact is, it’s a perspective on being together that – more and more – I’m coming to believe is critically important to the core idea of what it means to be a community of faith.

In worship we celebrate God, we celebrate what God has done and continues to do, and we celebrate the fact that we are a redeemed people, called to love one-another and to stand as a collective witness to the beauty of Christian community.

After lunch, over 90 youth fanned out to model God’s unconditional love, via “random acts of kindness.” They left trails of love, joy, laughter, hugs, and the good kind of tears in their wake.

Then, during the evening, Rebekah and I were invited to attend the Christmas party for the “Stumbling Disciples” Sunday-school class (our resurgent and enthusiastic young family ministry).

The party was fun, loud, boisterous, engaging, heartening and deeply moving. The simple fact of the evening washed over us like a wave of encouragement.

We listened to young parents talking enthusiastically about how being a part of a vibrant church has reengaged their lives of faith; we listened to leaders enthuse about the growth, and the new life, and the sense of purpose they are feeling; we listened to men and women share stories about how they are growing as disciples.

When Rebekah and I got home we were exhausted in the way that you are when you get off a raft that’s careened through several miles of rapids on the Colorado River. Just carried along by the fullness, the torrent, the flow; the boisterous, enthusiastic, overwhelming flood of authentic, nourishing life.

We don’t just celebrate a memory of what God did at Christmas – we celebrate the impossible to deny fact of the unstoppable flood of life the incarnation has become.

I pray that your 2016 will be like this.

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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at