Undoubtedly we will hear and agree that this Christmas is different. Masks, roped off pews, social distancing, pandemic, post-election -- well, you name it. It all seems to point us to the fact that this will be a Christmas unlike every other. And, yes, I will admit, some things will be different. But Christmas will not. Whether or not all your family makes it home, Christ made His home among us. Whether or not you are quarantining or trying to venture out as safely as possible, Christ took flesh and with it all that is dangerous, ugly, destructive, and marked for death upon Himself for YOU. Whether or not there will be packages under the tree to open, Christ came for the tree of the cross and His birth points you to what God has done to bestow upon you grace you neither deserve nor have earned. Whether or not some loved ones will be mourned this year instead of laughing, eating, and enjoying the day with us, Christ came to usher in the eternal dawn of light and life in which we are reunited with those who have gone before us with the sign of faith. Yes, some things will be different but not the thing that makes it Christmas.
Every Christmas, the people of God have gathered with their wounds and their wonder, their worries and their whining, their fears and their fretting, their sorrows and their struggles. No Christmas has come to us with everything in place, everything on their best behavior, all the right gifts and food, and all the right people gathered. Or there would be no need for Christmas. Christ has come for us precisely because of what is wrong and not because of anything that is good or right. He has come as the great Savior of a people who need to be rescued -- not in the least from themselves and their self-absorbed lives. Christ has come for a broken people living in a broken world with broken dreams formed from broken hearts. That has always been Christmas, from the first night in which the angels swelled the silence with song and the star swelled the hearts of strangers to join the shepherds in worshiping Him who is born, King and Redeemer. It is true tonight. Yes, we may have to look past what has disappointed us or the constraints placed upon our celebrations or the sorrows that dampen our joys. But we have always had to do that. Christ did not come to affirm anything -- not even what we love -- but to rescue every one and every thing. That is the hope born of the Virgin, laid in the manger, and worshiped as God in flesh.
Do yourself a favor and put on Lutheran Public Radio and listen to Christmas there. . .
Also a good Christmas Eve read: The Apollo 8 astronauts reading Genesis 1 on Christmas Eve in 1968. https://www.nasa.gov/topics/history/features/apollo_8.html
I graduated High School and started college in 1968. It was at least as traumatic a time as 2020: King and Kennedy were shot dead, riots ensued, the Viet Nam War was really heating up with the Tet Offensive (a decisive American Victory being portrayed in the Press as a Defeat in a pretty stupid war, into which I was drafted 2 years later.) I was an innocent, starry-eyed kid from a small town in the peaceful hills of East-Tennessee... and the world had gone mad and was trying to kill me.
The year did end on a high note with the astronauts in orbit around the moon on Christmas Eve...reading Genesis ! "IN the Beginning.." while we could look back and see the beautiful blue marble of the EARTH God had created and Christ had redeemed and into which the Holy Spirit can plant FAITH...mainly within church.
This troubled year too shall pass...we still have HOPE...God is faithful.
Blessed Advent...Blessed' Christ-Mass to you and yours, Pastor Peters.
Timothy Carter, simple country Deacon. Kingsport, TN.
Excellent, up-lifting playlist for a lonely Christmas Eve of a lonely, troubled year…in my near monastic isolation in these beautiful old hills.
I offer two more comforting plays from troubled years. 1968: Apollo 8 and the Christmas Eve reading from Genesis 1.
I graduated High School and started College in 1968, a troubled time also. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, the Tet Offensive brought the Viet Nam War home to an 18-year old (I draw #6 in the Draft Lottery in 1970 and spent 4 years in the Navy.) In 1968, riots and troubles and elections were everywhere. I was a starry eyed kid from a small town in the peaceful hills of Appalachia and the world had gone mad and was trying to kill young men like me.
The 1968 Christmas Eve reading of Genesis 1 was a good end to a bad year. 2020 too shall pass. God in in charge and will keep His primroses…it will be all right. The blue marble God had given us is a good place to live...if we trust God to do what He has promised to do.
Blog on, Pastor Peters. You faithfully blog that God created us and wants us to be His children…Christ redeems us undeserving sinners…and the Holy Spirit stills plants and nurtures faith…mainly with in the church.
Blessed’ Advent…Blessed’ CHRIST-MASS to you and yours.
Timothy Carter, simple country Deacon, Kingsport TN. Dec 24th Christmas Eve, 2020
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