And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. — Mark 4:39
You may be familiar with the story from the gospel of Mark where the disciples take Jesus out in a boat to escape the gathered crowds. Exhausted from teaching, Jesus falls asleep; meanwhile, a massive windstorm blows in. The boat begins to fill with water, and the disciples panic: doesn’t Jesus care that they’re drowning? And yet all it takes is a word of peace from Jesus, and the storm immediately subsides.
As you look at today’s storms, it might be a particularly hard moment to imagine peace. In the neighbourhoods where Union Gospel Mission serves, the needs of families have grown again this year. Across the ocean, people are dying in the lands where Jesus was born. Peace seems more like a nice idea than an achievable state of being.
And that’s why I want to wish you peace this holiday season. Because it’s not just a nice idea, but the thing we need most in the world.
Through your care for your neighbours and your compassionate faithfulness, you have been a peacemaker this year. When you gave the gifts of shelter, hot meals, transformative recovery programming, and affordable housing, you invited stability into the lives of your neighbours. When people came through the doors at UGM, they set down their burdens for a moment and found belonging. You are doing the work of God’s kingdom: welcoming more harmony, freedom, and safety into your community.
Words can’t express how grateful I am for how you’ve kept peace at the centre of your actions this year. It’s my prayer that the presence of God is close to you this Christmas, as you continue to invite more hope and tranquility into the world. As Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.” May you remember that Jesus is in the boat with us, and that he is always at work.
Wishing you and your loved ones a warm and bright Christmas and a hope-filled New Year.
P.S. We were delighted to celebrate at our annual Christmas meal on Saturday December 9th. See photos below!
Photos of UGM’s Christmas Meal 2023
Amidst the rain and gloomy weather, there was brightness at UGM on the weekend of December 9th! Over 2,000 community members celebrated the holidays with a hot meal and community at UGM’s Annual Christmas Meal! Check out some of the pictures below! (Click to expand)
Events like UGM’s Community Meals are so important because they help provide hope and remind our neighbours that they are not alone this holiday season. For many folks, having a meal at UGM was their first point of connection with our staff, giving us the opportunity to get to know them, introduce our programs and services, and allowing us to walk alongside them in times of hardship and times of joy.
Thank YOU for helping bring the Christmas spirit to UGM. Because of your love and care for our community, thousands of people in our community were able to enjoy a hot holiday meal and were reminded that they are seen, loved, and valued.
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