At this point in the year, identifying our task is simple. It is time to proclaim the message of Christmas. We know the story. We have heard it many times over. The chorus of the angels tells us that the message of Christmas is good news of great joy for all people; a savior is born; he is Christ the Lord. That is the message.
It is a story that will be told in many ways at St. Luke’s this year as we are “reminded of beauty when all we feel is hardness” (as Sister Anthony said in our Advent Movie). From the Advent Purple to the warm glow of the Advent wreath, the beauty of the sanctuary will provide a fitting scene for the story to be proclaimed. The beauty of the story will be experienced in the music of the Chancel Choir and handbells. Together, we will join the songs of the angels, singing of the birth of the Christ Child. And who can better remind us of the joy of the message than the children who will present the Christmas Pageant on December 15th? Our worship will lead us to the Christmas Eve service with all the beauty of candlelight communion.
But worship is not the only way we will proclaim the Christmas message in the coming month. The beauty of Christmas will be expressed in the many acts of service and ministry that we extend to others: The warming tree for Tabitha’s Closet; The Holiday Helpers Offering; The UCC Christmas Offering; Salvation Army Bell Ringers; working in the CSL Christmas Store. We will make Christ known in and through our shared ministries.
One of the names by which the Christ Child is known is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” This is also a message that we will be proclaiming and we will be doing it though our ongoing ministry to folks as they come our way. Over the past several months, an effective ministry has been growing and developing at St. Luke’s. It started with the idea of the Blessing Bags that the Dreamers’ Class put together. The Blessings Bags contained toiletries and a couple bucks. Every week—almost every day—we have folks who stop by for a cup of coffee, a sandwich, a blessing bag of toiletries or a couple bucks. Mostly they seem to be looking for someone to talk to. I think they come because they need to be reminded of the beauty of God’s presence when they are feeling only hardness. Each time we offer someone a sandwich, a cup of coffee, a few minutes of connection, we are proclaiming the message of Christmas. We are making known the presence of God through our ministry.
Whether it is in the beauty of our sanctuary, the worship that fills the Advent Season or the many acts of service that are offered through our shared ministry at St. Luke’s, this much is sure: the message of Christmas is being proclaimed!
I am reminded of one other thing that Sister Anthony said in the Advent movie. It was something that she remembered her father saying to her as a little girl. “What lies out there for us today?” Along with Sister Anthony, I wonder what lies out there for us in the coming days. Our task remains to proclaim the message of Christmas. What new ways will we find to be reminded—and to remind others—of the beauty of God’s presence where only hardness is felt? That’s really what we are all looking for. A simple moment of beauty.