Today was the double-whammy sermon prep day.
I preached to the regular “traditional” crowd first. Topic– The Heart of Christmas.
So of course, it included an original riff on “Twas the Sunday Before Christmas” as well as references to classic yuletide viewing, like Christmas Story, Rudolph, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol. I even managed to include a video clip of Linus’ Luke 2 monologue for our NT reading. Move from there into lines from Christmas Carols that refer to the heart, a rendition of Breath of Heaven and I’m really cooking. Tie it into Ezekiel- I will wash you clean… replace your hearts of stone with hearts… for love alone…I will pour out my Spirit. (Posted here)
After a season of watching, waiting and listening, after we receive hearts of love and are filled by the Spirit, we are called to acts of passionate courage and radical obedience… like Mary saying “I am your servant, may it be as you have said”. Like Joseph taking on a wife who was shamed and a child not his own. Like the shepherds who left their sheep and the wise men who traversed continents. How can we hear stories like these and not be ready to act???
Fast forward about 90 minutes and it’s time for my favorite service of the season- the family worship service. This has been such a blast for the past three years. The first couple we did on Christmas Eve, and they were wild. We had a birthday celebration one year and a life-size manger scene the next (followed by Bethlehem Village on the lawn). This year, we followed the Children’s Worship template we’ve been using this fall and had the children lead worship. One of the 4th graders played her harp for the offertory!
Our story (sermon) this week was “Family Portrait” and I talked about how we can see the “family resemblance” in photos and cards families send out at Christmas. We built a “family portrait for Jesus – a little nativity scene – and explore the resemblance between Jesus and the people gathered at his birth. He grew up to be a shepherd (protects us and finds us when we are lost) and the King of Kings (ruling in love and generous in giving gifts). He was a messenger, just like the angel. Like his father, the carpenter, Jesus was a builder (of the Kingdom of God). Like his mother, he cares for us, heals us and comforts us, and teaches us how to get along with others. (posted here)
It’s always a joy to spend time worshipping with the youngest of our worshippers. And it was a HUGE blessing to see that the goals we had for our Children’s Worship are coming to fruition. We wanted kids to have a chance to lead in their services, so that they would feel involved and engaged in services Sunday to Sunday. They got up and led a group of over 100 worshippers of all ages!
But now, it’s time for bed. A full day and evening is done. One more crazy-maker to go!
After all there are only 2 more sleeps till Christmas Day.