December 25 – Christmas Day
A Moment for Mission
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” — Isaiah 52:7, NRSV
I remember Christmas 1997. Shadow, a sweet gray-and-white cat, had just joined our family, and Kristen, 9, and Megan, 14, were crazy about him.
Kristen was especially excited because her fourth-grade class was singing Christmas carols at the mall. She dressed in the requisite red shirt and black pants and was ready to go when Megan called, “Come, see what Shadow just did!”
Running down the hall, Kristen tumbled headfirst into a bookshelf. Her plans to sing at the mall quickly changed to a trip to the emergency room.
While a doctor stapled Kristen’s head, a sweet nurse made sure the Christmas concert was not forgotten. She and Kristen sang Christmas carols, and 25 years later, this is still a fond memory.
I doubt Kristen remembers any wrapped gifts she received in 1997. But she often recalls the kindness of the nurse who took the time to sing with her and helped her forget the pain of a very sore head.
We often hear that Christmas is not about giving or receiving the biggest or most expensive present. The gift of kindness is far more memorable than a shiny new bicycle or the latest electronic gadget.
The best gift of all, Jesus Christ, came to us as a baby in a manger. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news”! Thanks be to God for this incredible gift!
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
Baking and frosting tasty treats? Decorating the Christmas tree? Making and wrapping presents? Practicing for the church Christmas program? Visiting grandparents who live far away?
Through traditions, we share customs and beliefs with others. And as we prepare to welcome the baby Jesus, we hear stories of the traditions in our lives. We hear about the year the oven quit working in the middle of cookie baking. We hear about the snowstorm that hit during the Christmas program. We hear about choosing a tree that was taller than the living room ceiling.
And we remember joy-filled times of reading the Christmas story in the Bible, welcoming newcomers to our church and, best of all, thanking God for the baby Jesus.
Loving God, remind us to be your messengers—sharing your peace, bringing the good news and telling others about the real reason for Christmas. Thank you for Jesus! We love you. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Christmas Eve — God of the stars and the angels’ songs, as we gather this evening, all our attention is focused on a baby, lying in a makeshift bed in an “it-will-have-to-do” stable. It’s not lost on us that you sent your Son, our Savior, into the world among the poorest of the poor and told us: “This will be a sign to you.” As we present gifts to you, we pray that they might reach those in the greatest need, that they might lift those in the deepest despair, and that they might bring peace and compassion to those who find themselves amidst conflict. We pray this in the name of that Holy Child, Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer! Amen. (Luke 2:1-20)
Visiting in Ohio about 15 years ago, we searched for a church that offered a candlelight service. Our niece, 8, had never attended one and was curious about it.
We found a pretty country church and were welcomed warmly by the small congregation. Emily was fascinated by the music and the candlelight as we joined in singing “Joy to the World.”
As we quietly exited the sanctuary and greeted the pastor, Emily smiled broadly and said, “Hi! I’m Emily. I’m new here!”
Returning her greeting, the pastor said, “Hi! I’m Pastor Mike. I’m so happy to meet you.”
This Christmas, let’s scoot over in “our pew” and welcome every visitor. Let’s tell them about upcoming activities, inviting and encouraging them to become a part of our congregation.
And as Christmas segues into Epiphany and beyond, let’s find new ways to engage every curious child and seeking adult and share the continuing joy of Christmas throughout the year.
It’s all about making disciples of Jesus Christ.