Good morning everyone! It’s here! The last day of Advent is here! Merry Christmas Eve! This will be my last entry for while. Thank you so much for taking this journey with me this season. Hopefully there will be more blogging in the new year. If you are in the McMinnville area, you are so welcome to join us tonight at 4pm, 7pm or 11pm for service. The 4pm service is more geared towards kiddos in the great room while the 7 and 11 will be traditional lessons and carols in the sanctuary.
Today’s scripture: Luke 2:7-20
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’*
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
At this point, as I wake up and get ready for this busy and much anticipated day, I am thinking about how everyone must feel today. There are so many responses to just this story. There are responses of hurt, fear, disappointment, anticipation, confusion, resolve, and joy…and I am sure the list could go on. Even in my own morning moments I am excited one moment for the worship services tonight to get to sing and worship together…and then I have a moment of anxiety “did I do everything that I need to do for tonight?” and then there is that moment of resolve, “I have a few hours so I just need to breathe and keep moving forward.” Plus there is that moment of “oh wow, I can’t believe it’s already December 24th.”
As a kid, this seemed to be one of the hardest days of the year…there is so much anticipation for tomorrow and even that night for celebrations but you first have to get through the entire day. We would continue to watch yet another version of A Christmas Carol, and we would decorate cookies and if there was any last minute cleaning or prep to do before the evening approached.
We can connect these feelings to the characters in the story. Mary is full of confusion, anticipation and wonder. We have only seen Joseph put his head down and resolve to do the best he can. The shepherds approach in fear and anxiety. The angels proclaim in glory and great joy. And Jesus is about to come brand new to the world.
Tonight we get to bring all of our traditions, celebrations, worries, fears, and joys together. No matter where we are throughout the day, we get to come together to worship and find ourselves again. There is something magical about hearing the story again, seeing our friends and family in candlelight, and singing well known songs. I know Mark and I were trying to scheme all sorts of new ways to “do worship” but when it came down to it we realized that people come together on Christmas Eve yearning for the story, the songs and the warmth and newness of candlelight. We don’t need to recreate anything but allow the space for God to work in what we know. Allow the space for all of our stuff to be welcome and transformed tonight.
Blessings to you this day and night. Blessings to your journey. May you be ready to celebrate tomorrow morning, fresh again.
Prayer: God, you have prepared us for just these moments. Awaken the story in us tonight. Open our hearts to be fully ready for Christmas morning. Amen.