Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As I write this revised letter to you, it is December 26th. The letter I had originally prepared, to be placed on our website and app, seemed inadequate for two reasons. The reasons seem unrelated at first glance, but I believe they are most closely related—in terms of the original coming of the Christ-Child so long ago, in a land far away.
Reason One has to do with our celebration of the birth of the Messiah on Christmas Eve here at Boiling Springs UMC. I was used to a traditional worship celebration of “Scripture and Song,” a service that had remained relatively unchanged through my pastoral ministry of almost forty years at five successive churches. I was asked if we might do something different this year. Placing my trust in Darlene Harmon and our wonderful Chancel Choir, I gave them carte blanche, knowing that what they would come up with would be Scriptural, timely and yet timeless. I was not only not disappointed, but was amazed and awe-struck by what God’s Holy Spirit can do with those who are willing and able to share their formidable talents!
My sincere thanks and gratitude to Darlene and our Chancel Choir, and also to Abigail Padgett, Anna Sparks, the Adam Backman Family (Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus), and our audio-visual guru—Neil Craps. Vocal solos and duets by Beth Henrick, Darlene and Charlene Harmon and Jean Koon reminded me of the “multitude of the heavenly hosts” the shepherds must have heard in the hills surrounding Bethlehem.
Reason Two has to do with the passing into the Upper Sanctuary by our brother, Howard Thorn. At times, the Christmas holidays puts a bit of extra anxiety, depression and stress on some folks. This can be compounded when there is a death of a family member—Howard had lost his sister just a short time earlier this year. Although not officially a member of our Boiling Springs Church (I had asked him many times), Howard had served in the past as a member of our Board of Trustees, and faithfully attended Sunday worship each week for many years. As I mentioned in my sermon this past Sunday, Howard was able to celebrate Christmas with the Birthday-Boy himself, and touch the face of Jesus with his very own hand!
The birth of the Baby Jesus came at a time when the world back then was filled with joy and sorrow, love and hate, healing and pain, peace and violence, commitment and apathy—just exactly like our world today. May we take a lesson from this Christmas, and all others, that the Christmas in which we find ourselves may be one of joy, love, healing, peace and commitment—not only by what God and Jesus Christ do for us, but by what we do in Christ’s name.
May this Christmas be the best one you have ever experienced, and may the New Year bring a new commitment by each of us to the work and ministry of the Baby Jesus!