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
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.
[to top of second column]
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