I write this tome on the Tuesday we are busy preparing for our volunteers luncheon. Each year during the first week of December we in the church office host a luncheon for those of you who have volunteered in the office or in one of our ministry areas during the past year. It’s a lot of work, and a labor of love. We so very much appreciate our volunteers. We depend on them! We could not function without you! This is our opportunity to say “thanks.”
The volunteer lunch is also a “marker” for the holiday season in the church. I’ve come to enjoy each one of these markers of the season.
The first is the “hanging of the greens” along with a tamale lunch after worship on Christ the King Sunday. Then comes the volunteer luncheon in the first full week of December.
During the second week of the month, we partake of our staff Christmas party. I learned long ago to do these events during the work day. Some people can’t make the volunteer lunch because they are working, and that grieves us. But not imposing on family time during the holiday season has something to be said for it, too. This morning’s paper had an article in the business section reporting that more and more companies are moving toward daytime events and away from evening parties (with alcoholic beverage and related behaviors). It’s become even more of an issue this year. I decided years ago to not bother our staff with another after-hours social event. I think they appreciate the freedom in their schedule, as do I.
The third marker of the season is when we do our “all music” worship services. P3 did theirs last week. The traditional services of “Lessons and Carols” will be December 17.
Then the final marker of the season is Christmas Eve worship. This year I will be preaching the story of angels and shepherds and a tiny little family in a small barn on the edge of Bethlehem. It’s a very inauspicious beginning for the Savior of the World!
Then, after the 11 p.m. Christmas Eve worship, it’s Christmas. Christmas is a unique blending of old memories and new realities.
My family always celebrated Christmas on Christmas morning. I can remember a few of those still, after all these years. Occasionally we traveled. I can remember hearing Santa’s reindeer on the roof of my grandmother’s house in Arkansas! I was about 5 years old. Mostly, my grandparents traveled to us.
I have suggested to our adult children that they follow that example. The day after Christmas, Joan and I will do our new tradition of traveling to spend some time with our Alabama grandsons. There is golf in my future the week after Christmas in Alabama, and probably I’ll go to the new Star Wars movie with one or both grandsons.
We are seeing Hannah, Madison and Jayden before the holiday this year. Actually, Jayden is spending quite a bit of time with Grandma and Grandpa, which suits us just fine! Hopefully, I’ll also have an opportunity to spend a day or two in the company of Emerson and Jameson sometime during the first week of January. Emerson is 2, which is a very exciting age for Christmas. Jameson will be six months old the week before the holiday.
We are very blessed in that, for the third year in row, Joan and I are welcoming a new grandson into the family this holiday. Little kids are easy to buy for; as long as there are boxes and wrapping paper strewn across the house they are happy little campers — regardless of the gift!
They also bring home to me, in a very personal and intimate manner, the prophecy of Isaiah.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them a light has shined. . . . For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)
It’s a mighty burden to place on such a little boy but, sisters and brothers, we need him. It’s been a difficult year for so many and for so many different reasons. We need to spend time in the company of baby Jesus to remind ourselves of the promise of the future. Come see us on Christmas Eve.