It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Dickens’ opening words in the classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, flashed across my mind on a recent mountain prayer walk. On my way up I was thinking of this Christmas season and about how, for the first time in our marriage, Sherri and I have no Christmas tree – we bought a spruce scented candle instead. I light it faithfully each night.

I was thinking of my children and about how, for the first time in the life of our family, we won’t all be together on Christmas Day. I was thinking about their stockings – almost as old as each of them – hung by the apartment humidifier with care. Every night Sherri and I see those stockings emblazoned with the names of our flesh and blood, and every night I weep a little on the inside.

It was about this time I reached the top. It was clear and cold, but Seoul, this great city that I’ve come to love so much, shone brightly all around me. Mountains surrounded me. The Han River sparkled in the distance. Seoul Tower stood tall, and I imagined SIBC tucked away in our little alley street in Haebongcheon.

As I started back down the mountain I thought about how blessed Sherri and I are to be a part of such a great church. I thought about the family in Christ that surrounds us, loves us, and prays for us every day. I thought about how, at this church, with this diverse group of people, my wife and I have built strong, transparent relationships where I can be both myself and the pastor God has called me to be with no disconnect; no pressure to conform to certain expectations.

Time passed quickly and soon I was back in our apartment. The heated floor warmed my cold toes as I opened my Bible and read the words of Psalm 37:3-4Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

And so He has.

Merry Christmas to our SIBC family — past, present, and future.