Once again we want to send you Christmas greetings of love and joy. We recall many happy encounters/experiences this year:
✦ Wedding of Elaine’s nephew Jonathan in Illinois (like a Shugart family reunion),
✦ Grandparents’ Day with Ellie at Taylor University (now a sophomore)
✦ Joe’s 50 year college class reunion at Taylor U. (now officially an Old Fart)
✦ We traveled in several states to visit family & friends: Colorado in May & August, Wyoming in July, Wisconsin in October, Florida in November, Indiana and Maryland several times.
Some of these trips included experiences not always fun and easy. Elaine’s parents are 95; both now require nursing home care. We’ve been with family & friends during or after surgeries and chemotherapy, shared the grief of loss of relatives & friends.
We are grateful and thank God for His faithfulness – for our good health and the energy to work and travel. When home, Joe often joins the electrical crew of Habitat for Humanity wiring houses; helps collect and deliver clothing to the street people in Austin; runs around taking photos of almost everything.
Elaine volunteers as a nurse for a health clinic for people without insurance; participates in a Knit-A-Square group that makes blankets for aids orphans in Africa; is a Stephen Minister in our church.
For us the Christmas message is that God flips the table on life-as-normal by “scattering the proud… bringing down rulers… lifting up the humble… filling the hungry with good things but sending the rich away empty.” (Mary’s song in Luke 1:51-53) Christmas is so much more than decorations, parties, and such trivia. Jesus came to bring righteousness and justice (Isaiah 9:7) that restore the goodness of life to all people as God intended at creation. To follow Jesus means not only to receive salvation but to sign up to live for the common good that extends to all people. This is the hope offered to us from God every Christmas – that as we live less selfishly and more for the common good, peace on earth will flourish.