2015 Christmas Worship Guide

Still amazed by Christmas
By Pastor Ken Kramer, St. John's United Church of Christ, Lincoln, Illinois

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[December 12, 2015]  They were just three men dressed in bathrobes and adorned in foil wrapped crowns, but they looked like royalty to me. And when they came down the aisle singing “We Three Kings” it convinced this four-year-old that they were indeed three Wise Men from the East. Like most children at that age I was lost in all the wonder and mystery of Christ. I was not concerned how the gifts appeared under the tree and had no clue that there was any hard work involved in celebrating the Holy Day. For me, Christmas was simply to be experienced and enjoyed.

Today is a different story. My innocence is gone and I know all too well what it takes to celebrate Christmas. I realize now that one of those Wise Men was my own father and among all the other things he had to do to help the congregation celebrate Jesus’ birth, he was now filling in for one who had become ill. As we all know, Christmas can be fun and at the same time, exhausting.

Then we add in the other problems of the world, terrorism, the war overseas, the fragile economy, people marching in the streets here and around the world, demanding a better way of life and the enduring of a presidential election. Suffering and grief are common this Christmas and we have more people looking for work and help just to survive. Yet, for me, in spite of all the problems, I still get lost in the wonder and mystery of Christmas. It is, for me, the amazing story of how God chose to come to earth, in human form, to save us. And the wonder is not found in all the pretty lights and beautiful decorations, although I enjoy those too. And it is not found in the packages under the tree or in all that wonderful food that gets served every holiday season. But, rather it is when our hearts are gathered together in song and praise, prayer and worship and the candles are lit and we realize that God has come into our lives and our souls. Singing “Silent Night” in German, hearing the Gospel of Luke being read and watching the kids struggle for their lines in the pageant transforms me into a wide-eyed child again and brings me hope in our busy and troubled world.

It is the hope of all the ages, that we are not left to our devices. That in the midst of our troubles and pain, and sin and darkness, God sends a light of hope and salvation. In the midst of fear there is faith, in the midst of sadness there is joy, in the midst of pain there is healing, and in the midst of hopelessness there is hope.

It is the comforting knowledge that God has come to rule our lives and produce order out of chaos, and that God is in charge no matter what the rulers and leaders of this world may say or do.

It is the promise of everlasting life when our days on earth are over and it is the knowing God’s promises are true and can be trusted.

Especially in the Christmas season, you and I both know that we do not deserve such a wonderful gift, as Jesus our Lord, and yet God gives Him to us without question or reserve. Because of the cross, the manger becomes a place of worship and because God’s grace, the gift is free and all we have to do is accept it.

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Many a Christmas has passed since that night in a small church in Jamestown, Illinois and many wonderful experiences of Christmas have come and gone since then, and each year my faith is reaffirmed by the one born in Bethlehem.

I look forward to it happening again this year as we celebrate our first Christmas in Lincoln. Perhaps more than ever, I seek the Christ in the lives of the family and friends and fellow believers, for it is in their eyes that I see this wonder of the great mystery of Christmas. Join me and all of us at St. John UCC as we journey one more time to Bethlehem, where we will hear angels sing and hear the good news,

“That unto us, is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Read all the articles in our new
2015 Christmas Worship Guide

Advent Promise
Pastor Adam Quine
The best news...Jesus, a gift to the broken
Pastor Michael Paulson
Hurry home
Pastor Larry Crawford
Still amazed by Christmas
Pastor Ken Kramer
The most wonder-filled time of the year
Pastor Greg Wooten
"Christmas doesn't happen without me"
Pastor Jonathan Buesdher
There's blues this season...,and there's Jesus
Pastor Michael Mallick
Could one man's decision 2,000 years ago change hearts today?
Pastor Mark Weber
"Recognizing the Truth of Christmas"
Pastor Stacy Popejoy
See with joy, the Christ Child has come
Pastor/Chaplain Ryan Edgecombe
Where is the new King?
Pastor Zoila Marty
The bike before Christmas
Pastor Ben Manley
Church Worship Schedules 30

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