Monday, December 24, 2007

Musings on Christmas Eve Day

Christmas Eve day. For most of my adult life it included frantic (okay sometimes it wasn’t frantic) preparation for multiple worship services, for Christmas day travels or meals, and all the last minute preparations I’d left till…well the last minute. There was the late night communion meditation to prepare. What do you say at 11:30 on Christmas Eve that will add meaning to the already wonderfully mysterious service? I love the late night communion service, where we are all mellowed by the activities of the day. Tired out, our defenses which keep the holy at bay, break down. God’s mystery and wonder slips in unannounced and unexpected to grace our gathering.

Since becoming a district superintendent I no longer have worship leadership responsibilities on Christmas Eve (or most other times). For the first time in my adult life I am free to travel and be with family or friends. Also for the first time I do not have a church home. As I reflect on those holy Christmas moments I recognize that most happen in the context of a community of faith where I know others and am known by others intimately. God breaks in most fully in my life through others. So while I attend services of worship celebrating the birth of our Savior, something will be missing for me. I will enjoy the time worshiping with my family. But I will miss the connection that comes from sharing tears, struggles, laughter and celebrations in a community of faith.

Tonight, folks will show up at your church who have not been there in a year. Some will come simply seeking a connection with their past or because it is a tradition. Some will come out of a longing for an experience of the holy, of God breaking into their midst and their lives. Still others will come because somewhere deep inside they long for the type of loving community the idea of church offers, even if it doesn’t always live it out.

I hope in the midst of this holy day you will find time to invite someone into the fellowship of your congregation. And I pray you will experience the holy moments which come with this day. Even if you read this after Christmas Eve (all three of you who read this blog) it isn’t too late to welcome the stranger, the guest, the visitor into your community of faith. For you have something mysterious, wonderful and holy to offer.

Blessed Christmas to you all.