I was trying to figure out what else to possibly say, as I sit and write on Christmas Eve. Much has been said in the last few weeks about the bittersweet authenticity of Christmas and the need to sing more carols earlier. Perhaps the closing thought for this season (and for the year, as I will be gone until the 12th), is the realization that you can’t force Christmas—it just comes, and sometimes it doesn’t look the way it was supposed to look. We all have memories as children anxiously awaiting Christmas morn. I don’t think I am the only one that ended up trying to stay up all night as a child to catch Santa in the act. No matter how hard you tried, it was going to happen when it was going to happen—an especially pertinent message now that I am the one with a small child who will no doubt be waking me far too early tomorrow
There is such and interesting mix of emotion that surrounds the holiday season. There is perhaps no greater evidence of this than the Blue Christmas worship service. In contrast to the music, the lights, the joy, the laughter is the more somber tone of those that cannot help but be reminded of loss and struggle during this season. I have said it before, and I will say it again, I believe Blue Christmas and Maundy Thursday are the most meaningful worship services that the church does all year. Sure, there are no more spectacular services than Easter and Christmas Eve, but there is something so powerful about the authenticity of Blue Christmas and Maundy Thursday. These services give us permission to feel whatever it is we are really feeling—even if that is not the prevailing joyous emotions of the season. It gives us permission to mourn. It gives us permission to be sad. It gives us permission to be overwhelmed.
I’ve got a bone to pick with many other pastors—get off your high horse and sing some Christmas carols! You’ll notice that we have already been slipping them into worship at Covenant. You may not be privy to these conversations, but I have heard many a discussion amongst pastors (especially Presbyterian ones) who insist on holding off on the Christmas carols until right before Christmas—some even insist on not singing Christmas carols until Christmas eve! The reasoning for this goes something like this: “Advent is a season that teaches us about waiting, so we need to wait to sing Christmas Carols.” To which I respond: No Advent means Coming (Remember that one from years of children’s messages at Covenant?). Advent is about Christ coming, not just on December 25th, but all the ways in which Christ is constantly coming into our lives. It is about anticipation, it is about preparation, but there is nothing that says you can’t sing joyous
Tonight I sit in a hotel room in Claremont California after a day of connecting with staff, faculty and other students at Claremont Lincoln University. I have recently started a Master’s Program in Interfaith Action that is designed to work alongside the work I am doing as the pastor of Covenant. This is one way I have committed to growing as a Spiritual Leader, and I have to say, I made a good choice. The work that is being done here is groundbreaking and vitally important to the world we live in today. Not so sure about how vitally important it is? Well check this out. For nearly the last 1000 years the Christian Church has been suffering from something called the “Great Schism.” Long before the Protestant Reformation, in 1054 there was a split between what became Western Christendom (Roman Catholic and Protestant) and Orthodox Christendom. This divide has been profound and deep within the fabric of the Christian