Making a List and Checking It Twice

We are almost there! The Messiah is coming! We are prepared. I recently heard Nadia Bolz-Weber in an Advent devotional speak about the passages that surround our Advent season; they are not always the most uplifting. Our first Sunday of Advent we hear how Jesus is like a thief in the middle of the night; some will remain in the field and some will disappear. Nadia challenges us that we should make a list of things that we would like Jesus to steal from us in the middle of the night. Things on this list could be: stress, anxiety, self-doubt or anything that is keeping you awake at night. What are some things you could put on your Advent list? What are some things our church can add to our Advent list? If the things on our lists were to disappear in the middle of night, how would our new day look different from the one before? What would we be freed up to do? How much more time would we have for things that are really important? As we begin our last two weeks of this Advent season together what are ways that we can continue to prepare for the coming of our Lord?

This year we have the opportunity to gather for worship on Christmas Day as part of our regular worship. Every seven years we get this chance. While some congregations have services every Christmas regardless on the day of the week it may fall, others consider this an inconvenience. This year we get to celebrate the birth of our Lord on Sabbath, on the day of the week when we stop what we are doing and rest. The day we are commanded to step out of the world and into a space where we are reminded of what the Kingdom of God looks like. This glimpse of the Kingdom gives us new hope for the world that we re-enter as we leave our church doors.

I encourage you and your family to worship this Christmas Day and to step away from it all. To awaken to this new day with our Messiah in the world, a world that desperately needs to hear about God’s rein. After all the parties and staying up late preparing for the morning, what better way to celebrate than to come together in worship of the very one who is the reason for all the preparation and staying up late.

Each worship service is important and every person in attendance is of infinite value. It is for them that Christ was born. On any given Sunday we could all fit comfortably in one service, but we have different schedules and some are better able to worship early and for some the body just doesn’t allow early morning worship. Laurel Heights will have both regular services on Christmas morning with Sunday School and fellowship time in between. Rather than combine services or make plans to eliminate an opportunity to encounter Christ or hear the Word of God, wouldn’t it be great if Christian congregations all over the world had to add additional services on one of the most sacred of days because this day of all days was a day of worship?

I encourage you to take advantage of the worship services of Advent, Lessons and Carols, Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and look for something new in the familiar and something familiar in the new. Take a moment to wonder at what God might want to place on your Advent list of things to be “taken like a thief in the night” and what you may have placed on the list that is God’s blessing to you or others.

See you Sunday,