Christmas has arrived, the time of celebrating the coming of Christ. However, with family and friends, presents and meals, comings and goings, even committed Christians can miss the opportunity to pause and pay attention to this momentous moment. I invite you, then, to contemplate the coming Christ as well.
Remember our invitation in this new Liturgical Year to Live His Story—to remember the story of our lives is woven into the greater story of God’s re-union of all things in Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-10). All of history moves toward the answer to our Lord’s prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We now step with intention from Advent into Christmas, from Anticipation to Incarnation:
December 25 through January 5 (aka the Twelve Days of Christmas) is the shortest of our liturgical seasons. They can pass quicker than you can say “and a partridge in a pear tree.” Yet this is the time when “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood” (The Message). So use these few days as an opportunity to visit with Jesus in the manger, asking the Holy Spirit to give you fresh insight into his Incarnation. Take a few minutes each day to light the Advent wreath; spend some looking carefully at your manger scene; revisit the first chapters of Matthew, Luke, and John.
Begin your journey with Jesus anew, not assuming you know all there is to know about this baby and who he will become. Jesus begins his life with us experiencing vulnerability and helplessness, ignorance and instability, threat and displacement. He also experiences the care of a family, the covenantal life of Israel, the adoration of shepherds and magi and prophets and prophetesses. All of these experiences are essential to the life of Jesus, who is our Life; don’t rush past them.
The Immanuel family will enter into this story in these few ways this Christmas Season:
· Christmas Eve we’ll gather at 4pm at Beville to enjoy each other’s company and share food. Mindful that COVID remains a very real concern, please make choices in keeping with your and each other’s health. This gathering will happen in the room behind the cafeteria/sanctuary, where masks may be removed while eating and drinking.
· The Christmas Eve service begins at 5pm. For those not coming to the social gathering, you are welcome to arrive early and sit in the darkened sanctuary to prepare your hearts for this time of worship and celebration, including the children’s Christmas pageant. As usual, masks will be worn by all, regardless of vaccination status.
· The Sunday after Christmas, December 26 at 10am, we will have Lessons and Carols with Eucharist. Our readings will come out of The Message to help us hear the story afresh, and a range of music will be sung.
· Sunday, January 2, we will have our usual worship service at 10am. We’ll continue singing Christmas hymns, and reflect on the reasons the baby Jesus is brought to the temple, where both Simeon and Anna recognize this small infant as God’s great salvation.
I look forward to Living Christmas with you.
Your Pastor in Christ