Gearing Up or Winding Down?

383936_2438983145858_1485766825_nLuke 2:1-14,  In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,”Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

It is just a little over two days to Christmas. WOW, seems like time leaped-frogged over a few days and all of a sudden it’s upon us. Many churches had cantatas yesterday – a signal that the big day is almost here. The fourth Advent Candle was lit. And the children’s program was offered last night. Shirley was up at the crack of dawn this morning (seemed like it to me anyway) declaring with a goodbye kiss: “I am getting this finished today!” As Andy Griffith would say: “Well, she did!!!

We opened the last few Christmas cards this morning. This is always an exciting thing to do… opening the cards are like opening presents, the gifts of friendships and life experiences that have taken place over a life time. Some have been renewed friendships of people we haven’t seen in years. Others are people who have traveled this journey with us every step of the way. Their cards, signatures, funny or tearful remarks written inside serve as a catalysis to draw us even closer. For us each card sparks conversations with the words: “I wonder how they are doing? or Do you remember when they?” Each card is special because it reminds us of them and our time together.

Now, at this stage of the game, our (by that I mean Shirley’s) attention turns from gifts to Christmas dinner… (I do what I am directed to do). Do we have all the ingredients for Christmas dinner? That is a list that IS made and checked more than twice. Don’t want to come up on Christmas Day at dinner time and find out then that you have forgotten the one ingredient that makes the meal so special.

In about forty-eight hours the gearing up or the winding down begins… with the Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service. For forty years in ministry I was privileged to offer communion on Christmas Eve. It was a most holy and sacred time. Sometimes we would have a Candlelight Service while in other churches we would offer family drop in communion for a couple of hours on Christmas Eve. Both of them were special for me. One of the most special times of that worship was the dawning of the Light of redeeming grace as we lit candles while singing Silent Night.

It seems to me that we are gearing up until Silent Night is sung in church on Christmas Eve and then from the moment the candles are lit something inside us changes. I know winding down is not the appropriate wording, but the whole mood and feeling seems to change in this particular moment. It is as if someone comes to the door of our hearts and announces in a soft, welcoming voice – your room is ready – the fullness of time is here, and there is room in your heart for the Savior’s birth.

I hope and pray that this Christmas Eve you find your way to a church, join all the other folks there in Communion, singing Carols, and lighting a candle. In so doing I pray that you realize that room has been made in you for the Savior to dwell.

Silent night! holy night!
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night! holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth

Silent night! holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Saviour is born
Christ the Saviour is born!

Amen. Amen and Amen!

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