Christmas worship schedule:
5 pm on Thursday, December 24: Outdoor Christmas Eve service.
It is a simple service of carols, prayers, and sharing the Christmas story. We will worship in the parking lot and prefer people remain in their cars. The worship leaders will be under the drop-off cover so park accordingly and roll your windows down to hear. We have a brass ensemble to lead the hymns.
PLEASE DO NOT CONGREGATE with anyone outside your household. It will begin at 5 and the plan is to be finished by sunset, which gives about 20 minutes to get home before it is fully dark. Please keep distance. There will be hymn sheets available, please come and get them from the music stand.
There is no traditional indoor service.
Instead, we will have a pre-recorded service that we will watch together on Zoom at 7 pm on Christmas Eve, with some portions that will be live and interactive at that time. That service will also be available for people to worship at any time they choose. You can join our Zoom at https://us04web.zoom.us/j/499545065?pwd=aXd4M3EwcmdOWTh0SC80TVNGeW44dz09 .
The worship book is not fully necessary. The lyrics to the hymns are captioned in the video and they are all familiar tunes. The prayers are not printed there because there is not an opportunity to pray from home.
(It will be embeded here after it premiers at 7:30, until then it will just show a black box)
How do we even celebrate Christmas this year?
Our Advent theme (which started a bit early this year) has been around keeping awake and watching for God, and remembering that God acts when we are not looking. As we come to the end of a very strange year. It is hard to believe that for the most part we have not seen each other in worship for 8 months now. We have been waiting and watching for an end to this pandemic and return to the things we miss. When we last saw each other it was not even Easter. Now we are about to see a Thanksgiving and Christmas that is not like we ever imagined.
We are surrounded with images of a serene Mary and Joseph. We cherish hymns like “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” lying still and dreamless. We so relate to Christmas as a celebration that we may have let our own ideas overtake the real story.
While all those images make us long for and feel like we need a traditional Christmas that we are used to, maybe what we need is a deep dive into the real Christmas.
Maybe Christmas we imagine, with the traditions of worship and family, with presents and special meals, is nothing like the Christmas of the Bible.
Let us start with Mary’s words when the angel told her what was happening:
When Jesus was born, things were unpredictable, unexpected, dangerous and chaotic. It was not a peaceful or safe time any more than ours is. If it were, that story would have little to say to us. But since the world that Christ came to is the same broken one we know today, it does have meaning. It says clearly that no matter what we see, no matter how challenging things are, God is there.
Because even in the darkest, most unexpected, and deeply frightening events two thousand years ago, we learn that God is there just as those first people to encounter Jesus did. And in this time of fear, when nothing is as we think it should be, we too know that God is with us. After all, that is the message of Christmas: Immanuel… God With Us.
Blessed Advent and Christmas, because no matter how it looks, we know GOD IS WITH US.