Christmas is a hard time for a lot of people

I have a sermon about Grinches that will steal our Christmas. I haven’t shared it in a couple of years but I’ve certainly been reminded recently of the Grinch of expectations.

Many of us have bought into Hollywood’s version of the “perfect” Christmas when the unexpected gift suddenly appears under the tree, the snow falls at just the right time, and some old hurt is wonderfully healed.

The fact is that not only is does this time of year have its fair share of unwelcome things but the expectations of the season serve as a magnifying glass on them, making them feel even bigger than they would normally.

Since this is, indeed, a “Season” we attach things more easily to it. If a loved one passed away unexpectedly in the summer we will associate it with that time of the year in a more vague way than if they passed away the “week of Christmas.”

In recent days I’ve been reminded of how people I care about are going through unwelcome things this year. There are surgeries, job loss, health worries, financial stress, and other things that take the luster off of Christmas for these good people.

The cure for this is a realization that we are real people and not actors on a Hollywood film stage. Magical things are not likely to happen and for us, life goes on, with both good and bad things coming our way.

The core of Christmas isn’t magic. Rather, it’s Christ. God loves me and sent his Son into the world to be my Savior. The glory of Christmas isn’t a lack of problems so much as it is the knowledge that God has come to be with me in all of life, including the unwelcome aspects.

I may not get the surprise gift of a fancy new car in the driveway on Christmas morning, and, in fact, I may deal with some bad news instead. Still, “Emmanuel” – “God with us” is true. That’s what makes life worth living not only at Christmas, but all the year through.

That “Still Small Voice”

I was listening to the radio as I drove home today. Being alone in the car, I had the volume up higher than usual so I could hear the bass really well.

As I slowed down to turn, I thought I heard a voice telling me to “turn left.” I smiled to myself that something on the radio plus my getting ready to turn combined to cause me to think I heard that.

Then, closer to home, I slowed to turn again and this time, I knew I heard it: “Turn Left.”

It was then that I remembered that I had put our little TomTom gps in the arm rest console. Somehow it had gotten turned on, and it’s last command was to take us “home.”

For a minute there I thought I had heard the “Still Small Voice” of the Lord and that I had made the theological discovery that God has a pleasant female voice!

Opening the service with Communion

In our church we generally observe Communion about midway in the worship service or at the conclusion of the service.

However, I’ve just finished re-reading Keith Drury’sThere’s no I in Church” and in the chapter on Communion he suggests sometimes starting the service with Communion.

So today, I did the call to worship and then explained that…
1. We believe Communion is a means of grace and that
2. Since we believe our Lord is present in the Communion, and that,
3. Since we want the presence of the Lord in all the worship service
…we were going to open the service by observing the Lord’s Supper.

We had a blessed Eucharist, and then went right into an enthusiastic worship service. As I began the message I remarked that I had just noticed that I could still taste the grape juice and that reminded me that the Lord was present, indeed, in that place.

I don’t know how meaningful it was for others, but I was blessed by observing the Lord’s Supper at the beginning of worship today and plan on doing it that way again sometime in the future.