Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve @ New Hope

We went 180 degress from the "Let It Be Christmas" tonight. A very simple service along the lines of the "lessons and carols" you would have found in churches a century or more ago. We walked forward through the weeks of Advent to the coming of the Christ. Then we took a journey to the cross. All by candlelight and without anything but an acoustic guitar and piano. And the Holy Spirit was active in many of our hearts.

As the pastor of a smaller church, (as I type this I'm listening to Rick Warren at one of Saddleback's 16 Christmas Eve services) I sometimes find myself realizing how the Scripture I am reading speaks to specific people. Like tonight when I read:

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Rev 21:3-4 (NLT)

I thought about our friends who recently have experienced the loss of loved ones. Christmas is such a hard time. Memories can be wonderful, but they can also bring a resurrection of pain you thought was gone.

Tonight I looked out on the people I share my life with and saw in an instant how much some have gone through this year. It hurt to realize just how much pain they (we) have gone through - not just this year, but in years past. I almost lost it reading those verses. How I long to see the day when their hearts are free from those hurts and sorrows.

For me, having communion at the end of the service put everything in perspective. Christmas is truly glorious. No way you can top it, except in the blazing light of the cross. But even there, though our chance to become children of God was made real, our lives still reflect the stain of sin.

Oh, but one day - maybe soon... Jesus will return.

5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” Rev 21:5 (NLT)

I can hardly wait.

Hey, it's like being a kid again, only better!

Merry Christmas everyone and come quickly Lord Jesus.

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