Sunday, December 24, 2017
A New Christmas Journey
1 Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall;
oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging angels singing,
noels ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the babe is born for all.
Christ the babe is born for all!
2 Flocks were sleeping; shepherds keeping vigil till
the morning new
saw the glory, heard the story, tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
praises voicing greet the morrow:
Christ the babe was born for you.
Christ the babe was born for you!
Many of you who are regular readers are aware that I am the son of a United Church minister, I spent 37 years in ministry before my recent retirement, and our son is a UCC minister as well. This means that my memory of Advent and Christmas from the earliest days of my life is of preparation and busyness. Despite every effort to be ready for multiple services there are always circumstances which can't be controlled. One year there were three funerals of beloved members of a congregation in the week before Christmas, including the spouses of both the pastoral care minister and the organist.
I've spent many an early Christmas morning at the hospital, visiting those who feel bleak about their health and separation from family. Last year Christmas morning was on a Sunday and before worship I spent time with a family whose husband and Dad had died at home in in the early hours. Then it was on to the hospital before worship. We have joked through the decades that on Christmas morning the family props me up with pillows on the couch as I try to keep my eyes open.
There are so many meaningful memories of ministering to others at this time of year. Tonight I will miss going outside on the steps of the church with the congregation with candles to sing Silent Night to the community. Some years the stars were blazing and the experience was exquisite.
And yet...I am so grateful that this aspect of my Christian journey has come to an end. This evening I will sit with my family and sing carols without having to consider what is next during the service. I won't have to fret over the possibility of snow (which should be a delight) or if attendance will be deemed good in the seasonal post mortem. And truth be told, I'm relieved that I no longer preside over the funeral and memorial services of the saints.
Our son and his family have moved nearby and he will begin his ministry in a new congregation at the beginning of January. So he is off now, and this is an even greater gift, two clergy guys getting to sit together in church without responsibility!
Christ be with all of you this night and throughout the season.