After a beautiful Cantata Sunday that retold the story of Christ’s coming and birth by choral and chamber ensemble, we begin our Candlelight Services tonight! The day is finally here!
Pastor Lisa, our worship team, and I have been preparing since summer to offer three different expressions of this Christmas tradition in two new formats: a service on the 23rd and a new, not-as-late Christmas Eve service at 10pm (our 4pm Christmas Eve is still an option too). Our choir will be singing for five days straight, and I imagine Christmas might be quiet for them. I hope you’ll invite your family, friends and neighbors to attend one of these services of lessons, carols and a short message that seeks to make Christmas real for all of us.
Even with all the planning and prepping, I am having a hard time believing that the day is finally here. It’s surreal to me. Do you ever have moments like that? It happens to me frequently. I spend so much time getting ready, my heart and mind sometimes aren’t ready to experience something when it finally happens. I wonder if Mary and Joseph were having a similar experience. We don’t know for sure. The Bible doesn’t tell us how Mary and Joseph were feeling as labor set in. The best we have is that after the birth and upon the visit of the shepherds Mary pondered what they told her in her heart.
The Israelites had long awaited the Messiah. They had all sorts of expectations of a saving king who would use military might to deliver God’s people from the oppression of the Romans. God did send a Messiah, but it wasn’t a new strong man, it was a lowly child. The day had finally come, but few knew what to look for.
I think God still works this way. Defying our expectations, or showing up when we least suspect it, we find ourselves unprepared at best and ignorant at worst. This Christmas, I invite us to take a breath – a big, deep breath — and as we exhale to invite God to slow our hearts, calm our minds and open our eyes to how Christ is born anew to us today. That we might have a better chance of not missing it or finding ourselves paralyzed by feeling surreal to let Christ be born anew in us!
I look forward to worshipping together this weekend online or in-person.