One of the interesting things about having lived in a variety of places in the United States of America is that each area, state, culture, and zone has its own unique ways, standards, and laws. One of the most interesting uniqueness I have found living in Montana for the last ten years has been the milk dating system. Originally implemented years ago to help buttress the Montana dairy industry and keep other large milk-producing states out of the Montana market (i.e. California)., milk expiration dates in Montana can be no more than twelve days after the milk is pasteurized. Generally, milk can last up to twenty-one days in the cooler, however, in Montana, it is only twelve! The next closest expiration date in the U.S. is seventeen days — in Pennsylvania.
In the picture that headlines this article, you can barely make it out, but you can see two “freshness’ dates on the 1/2 gallon container of milk we bought on November 30th. The Montana expiration date is December 6th. The Wyoming expiration date is December 13th! In the past, our travels have sometimes taken us away from home longer than the expiration dates on the milk would allow. Except for one extra-long time away, our milk has lasted even longer than the more generous Wyoming expiration date on the jug or carton!
What does all this have to do with a December RMD News Column? I’ve been praying specifically for our pastors and leaders the past few weeks for “freshness” when it comes to preaching during the Christmas season this year. My prayer has been that we would be re-invigorated with freshness and vitality that comes from the Holy Spirit as we share God’s Word with our congregations about that which most though not all have heard before — some, hundreds of times! Just as freshness can be taken for granted with milk, when there is a lack of freshness in preaching, it is easily noticed and it can be hard to overcome. In the re-telling of the greatest story ever told may we have great freshness and clarity!
Lori and I join together to wish each of you a joyous Christmas season! Some among us are flying high into the Christmas season. Many have suffered loss this year and others have endured great challenges, YET, this season reminds us of the eternal nature of life and the FACT that Jesus changes everything! Wherever you find yourself, may the beauty, awe, wonder, and joy of Christmas invade your heart and life, and ministry this year!