There’s a family tradition for us to send out Christmas letters. So far, I’ve resisted the temptation—until this year. This one has been eventful enough, I suppose! So I share it here as well as by mail…
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
While I am sending cards incredibly late this year, I hope this letter still reaches you before the Christmas season comes to an end. It has been a busy and eventful year, and I figured I would share a few things about it with all of you!
First, on June 1 I moved to a new apartment in Queens as part of the church’s decision to sell its manse. I’m still serving as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, and my new home is still less than a mile from the church. I love my new place, although I’m not quite as able to welcome visitors as I once was. However, as a one-bedroom apartment, it is much more my size than the five-bedroom manse!
Then, in July and August, I took a wonderful and much-appreciated sabbatical. I traveled first to Pittsburgh to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), then in August I spent a week with family and friends in Mississippi and Alabama. But the real highlight of this time was twenty-five days in Scotland and Iceland! In Scotland, I visited friends in Portmahomack, then joined up with a group on pilgrimage to church sites in Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Stirling, and Glasgow. I concluded my time there with a week on the Isle of Iona, an absolutely incredible spiritual site with history dating to the sixth century. On the way back to the US, I spent four days enjoying the incredible natural beauty of Iceland. It was a trip of a lifetime! The most lasting piece of my sabbatical persists even now, though: I grew a sabbatical beard!
This fall, after completing several major leadership responsibilities in the church and presbytery, I took up singing with the New Amsterdam Singers. We are a group of about seventy gifted and committed singers who rehearse weekly in Manhattan and take on challenging music for our three concerts each year. In December, I was part of a smaller group who were invited to sing at the White House as part of the holiday tours. It was another once-in-a-lifetime experience!
It has been good to hear from many of you during the holidays this year. I hope and pray that your Christmas was joyous and your New Year is filled with much love! Look me up whenever you are in New York City—it is always wonderful to see friends!