As the council has been discerning our congregation’s core convictions and our purpose, one word that kept coming up was this one: “Relationships.” Of course, we think first of our relationship with God — our relationship with Jesus, but not only that: this is a church which has nurtured, through worship and small groups and friendships, a network of relationships. There are relationships between extended family members, and deep friendships which have developed; there are relationships between children and youth, and relationships that cross generations. And you know what? We realize that God uses our relationships with one another to help us grow and mature in our Christian faith, for support and encouragement and accountability. It is through relationships that we get to know Jesus better, and his love for us. It is through relationships that we learn the reality of sin — and forgiveness. Grace is a relational church.
So one of the phrases that we hit upon was this: “nurturing relationships that matter.” Of course, we want to nurture and build strong relationships — those that help us grow, those that help us serve one another — and our neighborhoods. But we realize that the “relationships that matter” are not just the ones we share with each other, right now. They are not just the relationships that we have with our parents and children, not just with people who are most like us, and with whom we are most comfortable. “Relationships that matter” are also strangers who become friends — neighbors who need our help — or, whose help we need — mission partners in Peru, or in Conroe and Montgomery — homeless families that we get to know — children and their parents and grandparents who are in our day school. These are just some of the relationships that matter, and tending to them will help us to see the face of Christ, and help us to grow as Christ’s servants.
Christmas is a time when we pay special attention to our relationships: our families, our extended families, our close friends, the children. And sometimes, if we think about it, we take a little time to think of others too: like the young moms in the Teen Life Center, like hungry people at the Montgomery County Food Bank. These too are relationships that matter. God became human in Jesus for this very purpose: to create relationships that matter, saving relationships, with all of us, even you and me.