A Christmas Letter

This year's staff Christmas party had a "Scottish Highlands" theme

To the Members and Friends of Richmond’s First Baptist Church:

When I had completed my first year at one of my former churches, the chair of the deacons invited the congregation to come forward at the end of the Sunday morning service and express their appreciation to me and my family.  It was a little embarrassing.  I didn’t feel that I had done all that much and was afraid that most people would just slip quietly out the back door.  But they didn’t.  They came forward.  They patted my girls on the head and hugged my wife and shook my hand, and one of them said to me, “I don’t have the words right now to say what I want to say.  I’ll have to go home and think about it.”

That’s how I’ve felt in these last few weeks at Richmond’s First Baptist Church.  Christmas cards have come pouring into my office along with cookies, candy, and gifts, with bone-breaking hugs and heartfelt words of encouragement.  The members of this church seem to be in a competition to let me know how much I’m loved and appreciated.  I’ve been overwhelmed by it, and when I try to think of how I might respond I feel like that poor tongue-tied parishioner at my former church:

“I don’t have the words.”

The words that do come to mind again and again are these: “Life is good.”  Along with all the rich blessings I have received since coming to Richmond there is a deep sense of satisfaction that I am in the right place at the right time.  But how do I say to you, in a way that you can understand it, “Life is good”?  And how do I say to you, in a way that you can appreciate it, “You are the reason”?  

Maybe the best I can do in this season is to say it, and to hope with all my heart that you will understand and appreciate the warm, strong feelings behind those few feeble words:  Life is good.  You are the reason.  And may the Joy of the Christ whose birth we celebrate and whose love binds us together be yours at Christmas and always.  



8 thoughts on “A Christmas Letter

  1. Beautiful Jim! Beautiful church! Beautiful staff! Beautiful leadership!!! (and the added bonus that I will get to be there on Sunday!)
    Merry Christmas!

  2. Thank you so much Dr. Somerville! You have meant very much to me during a hard time in my life. You baptised me and that creates a special bond. Dr. Flamming had some HUGE shoes to fill but you have done it perfectly!
    Again, thank you.
    Daniel Weaver

  3. Dear pastor i am a friend to richmond baptist church and I always listen to YOU every sunday and I tell you am blessed. You preach the word without fear or favour. You release the words undiluted as christ wants us to preach it. I thank GOD for your life and I know that God will not forget your good works. All GLORY TO GOD . MERRY CHRISTMAS

  4. You have helped to move the church toward new heights and the spreading of the Gospel throughout Richmond and into the uttermost parts of the world. May the Lord bless you and your family and may his face shine upon you.

  5. Jim,

    How cute in your highland kilt. I had know idea you had some Scot in you. My grandfather was from Scotland, from the Ferguson clan.

    I pray every day for your presence at FBC for your forward thinking and bringing the church nto the 21st century. As Daniel Weaver said you did have some huge shoes to fill, and you have filled them very well in more ways than one.

    I look forward to serving many more years with you at the helm.

    I wish you and your a Blessed Christmas.


  6. Oh my goodness! I imagine that you are the first First Baptist Pastor to be photographed in a KILT! That oughta go in the church archives! ;> Anyway, Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you and your family!

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