What an incredible week this has been.
We experienced an ice storm that was both spectacular to the eyes and at the same time devastating in the damage that resulted. We’ve seen neighbors who rarely speak to one another rally together. Those with power took in those without. We saw sacrificial acts of love and care to others in the days before (and after) Christmas. It was something I will not soon forget.
In preparation for Christmas we’ve been talking about the true meaning of this season - that the baby that was born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago is the Savior of all of us. The real reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of this baby, and yet how easy it is for us to overlook the truth.
I shared on Sunday a story about a wealthy family that decided to have their newborn baby dedicated in their enormous mansion. Dozens of guests were invited to the elaborate affair, and they all arrived dressed elegantly. After depositing their wraps on a bed in an upstairs room, the guests were entertained royally. Soon the time came for the main purpose of their gathering: the infant’s ceremony. But no one seemed to know where the baby was. The child’s governess ran upstairs and returned with a desperate look on her face. Everyone searched frantically for the baby. Then someone recalled having seen him asleep on one of the beds. The baby was on a bed all right—buried beneath a pile of coats, jackets, and furs. The object of that day’s celebration had been forgotten, neglected, and nearly smothered.
The baby whose birthday we celebrated last week could just as easily have been hidden beneath the piles of traditions and “stuff” that we do for the season. That’s why we entered into the Advent season here at Amberlea with the intention to focus on who and where this baby is, and why this baby came. But this Christmas, I think you will agree, we were forced to look at Christmas differently.
On Sunday the 22nd just after the storm hit a good number of us gathered at the church for worship. We had no lights or heat. It was cold and dark in the sanctuary but the children who were so excited to be a part of the Christmas pageant decided that church must go on. Each child played their part with gusto. It was a fantastic, candlelit, coat wearing, pageant. Not a perfect setting by any means, but then again, neither was that night oh so long ago in a cold, dark stable in Bethlehem.
All week we were forced to remember and to ponder what it would have been like to be in a stable without heat or light. It led so many of us to praise God for all that we have, even in the midst of a storm.
The Christmas story is real and it just doesn’t happen on December 25th. This year those of you who extended a helping hand were a living breathing Christmas story! You are a living, breathing Christmas story.
As we turn the page of our calendars to another year I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very happy and blessed New Year. May our amazing God continue to surprise you with His love, mercy and grace.
May you personally, and we as a congregation, be exceedingly blessed in 2014.