We are in the final sprint to Christmas! I hope you are enjoying the cool temperatures, beautiful lights, and are making plans to spend time with loved ones in the coming days. I’m confident that our music ministry helped you get in the holiday spirit last Sunday through their wonderful production, “The Sounds and Stories of Christmas.” I’d like to especially thank Dodie Morris and Richmond Dewan for their tireless efforts to make it all happen. Through their clear direction and countless hours of service, our church family was able to creatively celebrate the Christmas story, both online and in-person, all while involving over 150 ABC volunteers! I’m grateful for their talents and their ministry-minded hearts, and I do thank everyone who pitched in with them to make it a big success.
Christmas is a special time of celebration. From the music, to the traditions, to the gatherings with family and friends, this season is a beautiful moment for God’s people to pause, reflect, and celebrate. Even in 2020, this celebration should continue because our present darkness does not change the fact that the light has already come. Because the Word became flesh, you and I have a joy and a hope that is unwavering and transcendent of all circumstances. This hope is in fact so bright, that you and I are Biblically called to share it with others.
A few weeks ago, my family and I went out for a late walk on a trail in our neighborhood. We left while there was daylight, but time got away from us and darkness quickly settled in. We hadn’t planned for it, so we did not bring flashlights with us, but fortunately, I did have my iPhone with me. And as we all know, if you have an iPhone in your pocket, you do in fact have a flashlight with you. So I turned on the flashlight feature and began to light up the path in front of me. The light pushed away the darkness around me and gave me sure footing on the path. But I did not keep that light to myself, because I knew there were others around me that needed it as well. So I shined my light towards my entire family, so their next steps could also be made clear.
A lot of people in this world are unsure of their next steps. They are concerned about the present darkness in this world, and they don’t know how to navigate through it. But the Christmas story tells us that Jesus came to shine light into those dark places, and to give us hope and assurance in our next steps. Light always comforts. And the light that Jesus gave us is in fact so bright, that it is powerful enough to share with others. Because of that, he actually commands us to share it! He says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14). We have an opportunity to share the light of Christ in these coming days. We all have people around us that are stumbling in the darkness, and God has given us an opportunity to shine light into their lives. This week, you can shine by writing a note to a loved one, dropping off a gift to a neighbor, or simply checking in with someone who has been isolated for a long time. When you do these things, you are sharing that light with others that need it.
On Christmas Eve, we will share the light with each other as we pass the candlelight down the aisles and light up our beautiful worship center. But I encourage you to pass that light on long before you walk into our church doors. One way to pass it on is simply through an invitation. If you plan to stay at home on Christmas Eve, pass on the online link to our 4PM broadcast. If you plan to attend in person, invite someone to join you for one of our three services, 2PM, 4PM, and 6PM. We have added a third service this year to welcome others, and still be able to maintain our current space standards in the worship center. So prayerfully consider who God might be leading you to share your light with, and I believe many will be ministered to through our services this year.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday as we have another big weekend ahead of us. We’ll have live caroling in the lobby, our children will enjoy the Bethlehem Village (with live animals), and I will present our final message in our “Unwrapping Christmas” series. Keep shining this week, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.