Declare

This Weekend’s Scripture ~ Luke 2:15-20.

A couple years ago I had the privilege to attend the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concert with Andrew and six very dear friends. What an experience! Lights – sounds – huge screen projections – incredible musicianship – and indoor pyrotechnics. Incredible!

Their show began with their story called The Ghosts of Christmas Eve. It tells the tale of a young girl that finds sanctuary on Christmas Eve in an old theater. The ghosts draw her into their past experiences as their way of meeting her where she is, offering her comfort, and preparing to send her on her way home for Christmas.

(And then later on a dragon appeared…)

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve included suspenseful and delightful moments. Through an amazing cacophony of sound – and so much sensory engagement one could easily slip into overload – clear voices sang through with hope.

Hope for reunification. Hope for forgiveness. Hope for coming home.

Songs of hope that began with these words so long ago…”Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors” (Lk 2:14)!

Christ’s nativity was suspenseful and delightful. Christ’s nativity is our gateway to reunification, forgiveness, and coming home – with God and neighbor.

That is my wish for you this Christmas. Admire and enjoy the spectacle, but do not miss the true meaning and purpose of Christmas in the sights and sounds. God meets us in the world – in the flesh – and offers us sanctuary. Christ came into a world that did not want him and equally ached for him. That environment of 2000 years ago describes us still today.

We need this Jesus. We need our Christ to forgive and to teach us to forgive. Jesus brings us together. Jesus journeys with us home to God.

This Sunday our choir will lead us in worship as they declare our Savior’s birth as they offer Jesus! The Advent of the Messiah at our 11am Worship Service. Join us for this special time of worship and song.

Prayer: “Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born. Down in a lowly manger the humble Christ was born, and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn. Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”* Amen.

*“Go, Tell It on the Mountain,” The United Methodist Hymnal 251.

 

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Dimiss

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Matthew 1:18-25

This week while watching coverage celebrating the life and service of George H. W. Bush I heard him say in an earlier interview, “I have banned the use of the ‘L’ word.” What word was that? Legacy. He banned the use of the word legacy.

The 41st President continued, “I would like someone else to define the legacy…I think history will…point out the things I got wrong, and perhaps some of the things we did right.”

Your words ring true, Mr. President. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Our Scripture text for this week is the defining moment in Joseph’s legacy. Will he pursue betrothal to Mary to marriage or will he dismiss her quietly? Although the text does not lift the veil, we can sense the psychological turmoil Joseph endures. On the line are his reputation, his place in the community, his chances for another relationship, and his faith. The same things are on the line for Mary…add “her life” also to that list.

We do not hear from Joseph again much after Jesus’ nativity. He decides to enter marriage with Mary. He welcomes and names Jesus. He witnesses as the magi worship the Christ Child and then shepherds his family to Egypt seeking refuge from Herod. Joseph’s legacy is that of a caregiver and provider. He stood at the fork in the road between being right and being kind – and he chose kindness.

History points out that Joseph got this one right. When we find ourselves at the same fork in the road, may we also choose as Joseph did.

Prayer: “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given; so God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.”* Amen.

*“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” The United Methodist Hymnal 230.

Go and Tell!

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 2:15-20

This week Tuskawilla UMC welcomes two special guests in worship leadership. Rev. Anne Bachmann will share her sermon entitled “A Change of Heart” and Mrs. Jane Warren (my amazing mother!) will share her love and gift of music through accompanying our service. Thank you, Anne and Jane for serving with us and serving us this Sunday.

In our Scripture text for both Christmas Eve and Sunday morning we read about the shepherds’ activity before, during, and after their encounter with the Christ child. First, the shepherds receive the angels’ proclamation about Jesus’ birth. Second, they seek him. Third, they worship at his cradle. And then fourth, they return to the world to tell everyone about what they experienced.

Go. Tell. Over the hills and everywhere.

As I think of my own practices and behaviors around Christmastime, I find that I am really proficient at three parts of the shepherds’ activity. (1) I receive the invitation to worship our Jesus on Christmas Eve. (2) I prepare myself to worship and draw nearer to his nativity through the season of Advent. (3) I worship on Christmas Eve. And then (4) I typically put my Christmas experience to bed just as Mary helped Jesus in laying down his head.

Oops.

Thinking back on my Christmas Day conversations, they seldom include any mention of our Savior’s birth. I confess that they absolutely contain deep sighs that express Oh thank you, Lord, that’s over till next year! 

Oops again.

Paging: Missed Out, Party of Sarah.

The shepherds were told to “Go” by the angels, and in response to their go-ing, they shared their witness of Christ with joy and excitement. I excel at the go-ing and it appears my Christmas growing edge is the telling. 

I receive this invitation to grow in the telling. I need to break out of my habit of laying down my Christmas joy as soon as we finish singing Silent Night. Each year that I celebrate Christmas I experience something anew; a learning, a hymn, a revelation resonates at a new or deeper level. These learnings, hymns, and revelations – they are what the shepherds shared. I doubt it was polished…I doubt it was in complete sentences. What matters is that they shared – with joy and boldness – and these meek shepherds were instrumental in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ across the lands.

We are invited this week to go (to come), to worship at Jesus’ manger. And we are invited to tell, to share this Good News – the Good News of Jesus Christ. Do not find yourself saying “Oops” like I have. Do not miss out on the opportunity to tell someone – or lots of someones – about what you experienced at the manger this Christmas. Share with me. Share with a loved one. Share with God. And, by all means, share with someone that can benefit from hearing Jesus’ Good News.

Go and tell, my friends. Go and tell.

Prayer: “Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born. Down in a lowly manger the humble Christ was born and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn. Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”* Amen.

*”Go, Tell It on the Mountain,” The United Methodist Hymnal 251.