Twenty five years ago I experienced the most unusual holiday of my life. My son was due on December 26 but arrived on December 17. I suppose it was the first time in my life that I was not in church on Christmas Eve. And this year, all of us will experience a very unusual holiday season. I suspect that you, like me, have pictured having a chicken breast instead of a 25 pound turkey with all the trimmings for Thanksgiving. And then comes the four weeks of December typically filled with too many parties, concerts, service projects, church services and gift exchanges to squeeze onto the calendar. This year will be different. Quiet.
Still, I am hopeful. Our church staff began meeting under the tent in the back yard in August to dream about how to make this holiday season meaningful, even if covid interrupted our typical patterns of celebrating the arrival of Christ. Mike and I will preach “Home by Another Way” because as we read the Bible we see that almost every character in the Christmas narrative faced an interruption that forced him or her to go home by another way. And so these characters will guide us — Mary, Joseph, Magi — to the home of God who comes into whatever messy makeshift place we find ourselves in this December.
I look back on that tent meeting as the beginning of gestation. Slowly, I began to sense the excitement of the Spirit coming to life. In one of our darkest winters yet, we will be powerfully lifted up. A beautiful cello and piano duet of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” will launch Advent on November 29. The angelic youthful voice of Clara Thompson will perform “Coming Home.” Sara and Alex Goering will favor us with “The Prayer,” made well-known by Céline Dion and Andrea Bocelli. Alex Goering will conclude Advent by singing Bach’s famous “Sleepers, Awake” from Cantata 140 accompanied by Kansas City Baroque Consortium. The virtual Chancel Choir will sing its debut of an exciting arrangement of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” on Christmas Eve, along with many other special musical arrangements you won’t want to miss.
I hope you will reach out to someone you know who longs for hope and the assurance that God still comes to make a home with us. Invite him/her to worship with us on one of the Sundays of Advent or on Christmas Eve. Pajamas are welcome every week. And you can bring your own coffee mug and fill your communion cup with any beverage you enjoy. I know that the best Christmas I ever had was the one when a child was born. It was the most unusual, but the one that found me more full of love than I had ever imagined was possible.
Grace and Peace,