Christmas eve: Come into the light
Merry Christmas! We are celebrating Christmas Eve all day long at St. Johns. We have four candlelight Christmas Eve Services, (11:00 am, 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm) which all share the beauty of the birth of Jesus, in slightly different ways. The first three services (11:00 am, 3:30 pm, and 5:00 pm) are the most kid-friendly, with each having a Christmas story and nursery. The 6:30 pm worship is not “unfriendly” to children, it just doesn’t have a children’s story and nursery! The music will vary somewhat between the services. If we were to assign labels to each service based on music, it would look like this:
11:00 am: Blended Christmas Eve service, we will have a wonderful mix of traditional carols and more contemporary music.
3:30 pm and 5:00 pm: Contemporary Christmas Eve service, we will have carols and Christmas music set to a contemporary tone and beat.
6:30 pm: Classic Lessons and Carols service, with traditional carols and communion. It has seven scripture lessons that move us through the full witness of the saving story that begins with Jesus’s birth.
Each will end with candlelight and singing Silent Night. Come and celebrate with us the greatest gift that God gave to all of us, Jesus Christ our Lord, and invite a friend to come with you!
Our message will be Come to the Light. This is an extension and completion of our series, Finding the Light of Christmas. It is one thing for us to find the light of Christ, but it is another to come into the light and make it a part of our lives. It is easy to stay in the darkness because the darkness is comfortable, convenient, and concealing. It confirms that we are okay because we are not as broken as everyone else. We fear the brightness of a holy and living God because there are no shadows of hidden sin, no crevasses of half-truth, and no twilight of self-illusion. The brightness of a holy God is terrifyingly plain because we see all the broken promises, all the missed opportunities, and our love of hiding in the darkness of manipulation and power! The light in Bethlehem is a perfect light because it is framed in a manner that we can understand. It is a light that seems so vulnerable and fragile, but so truthful and grace-filled. It is the light of God’s love shining through the birth of Jesus. This week, we turn to Matthew 2:1-12. This is the journey of the Magi seeking to find the newborn king. They actually stop and ask for directions! They were seeking this light amid the darkness of the oppressive Roman Empire, and the tyranny of King Herod. There were plenty of obstacles for them, but they wanted to come into the light of the Christ child. It is amazing that they were so determined, but what about us? We understand the importance and power of what happened in Bethlehem far better than the Magi! Yet there are even more obstacles for us to overcome. There is a burden of doubt, an oppression of fear, and voices of misdirection that tell us this is not the light! The Magi would tell us that overcoming the obstacles was worth more than they could ever explain because it was a light like no other! This is our most earnest and sincere prayer that you will choose to come into the truthful and grace-filled light of Jesus as you worship during this Christmas season, despite the problems and obstacles. May you find your burdens lifted and your heart strengthened as you read Matthew 2:1-12:
Matthew 2:1-12 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (NIV)