Monday, November 4, 2013

OK ... It's Getting Close! A Word About Christmas

What is Christmastime to you?  I think the answer is different for each of us.  Maybe the answer changes as we get older and the expectations of children change to the obligations of adulthood.  Maybe we are influenced by our favorite Christmas specials or turned off by the constant stream of commercials hoping to win our Christmas dollars.  Maybe the booking of travel plans and the idea of a vacation have caught our eye and we are bent on making this trip the best ever.  Maybe none of what I have said above has any relevance to the real meaning of Christmas.  Maybe our society has a bad case of commercialism and needs a savior.  I have good news about that ... there is a savior and he came to Bethlehem to a manger ... truly a strange way to go about saving the world.

Being new in Abbeville I have gotten lots of information about what happens here at Christmas.   I have heard about the plans for a live Nativity ... the Polar Express night for children ... the Christmas Eve "Come-and-Go" Communion and some of the parties that are planned.  I have been working on  our Christmas Sermon Series which will be about the physical and spiritual journey of Mary and Joseph as they make their way to the manger.  We will learn about Nazareth, Bethlehem, the Way of the Patriarchs, and about two people named Mary and Joseph.  I hope you will be there every week as the Bible tells us the story of God with us.

Then ... on Christmas Eve ... I hope you will make worship a part of your day.  The Come-and-Go Communion time and the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service will offer all (we will invite the entire community) a chance to kneel and offer Jesus the only gift He really wants for Christmas ... our hearts.  Did you know that Christmas Eve is a great time to invite family, friends and your neighbors to worship in a beautiful setting ... a setting where we are all on the same song sheet singing about the Christ Child and His birth?  Did you know that this service, more than any service of the year, is our gift to God and our community where we say ... "Come see the Child ... the season is not about parties or programs or lights or presents or wearing our best clothes.  It is about Jesus."  Come and sing ... pray ... kneel at the altar ... take the bread and cup with our friends, family and neighbors.

I have to say ... our time in worship is the only thing that seems to center me in the Christmas season.  I have had the honor of serving communion to many at Christmas Eve services, including an off-duty Santa Claus still in his suit. It is always a blessing I carry with me through the rest of the season.  Some have said ... "it is inconvenient for the participants and it adds another event to an already busy season."  Yep ... that is true.  So I might have to eliminate a party, a trip to a light show, or a last minute trip to the mall.  Or I might have to tell the people at my house, I'll be back in 45 minutes ... I have something important I need to do.  Why?  Because the story of Christmas tells us that the shepherds left their flocks and the angels left the heavenly realm.  Because of all nights of the year, this is the night to worship.  I love the words of the Casting Crowns song that make a harrowing observation about this night ... "O Bethlehem, what have you missed while you were sleeping, for God became a man and stepped into your world today, O Bethlehem, you will go down in history, as a city with no room for it's king."  This night, this season and really each day we draw breath, is about a God who deserves our devotion, our talents, our time, and our worship.  I won't make excuses.  If my world has no room for the king, then there is something wrong with my world.  What say you?  Randy

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