Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What a story!

The story of this week is not the snowstorm that we’re being told will hit Minnesota. No, the story is the celebration of the birth of a baby in Bethlehem approximately two thousand years ago. Even if we’re told with breathtaking intensity that the weather outside will be frightful, my breath is taken away when I contemplate Jesus’ birth.

At Chain of Lakes we will celebrate this story at Christmas Eve worship. The service will be this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Lino Lakes Senior Center, 1189 Main Street.

Christmas Eve worship is my favorite service of the year. When I served at Plainview Christmas Eve worship became a tradition that attracted people from all over the area. We had so many people come that for a while we went to two services. At Chain of Lakes this Thursday we will have special music—my wife, Amy, and I will play a flute/violin duet and our daughter, Hannah, is singing; we will sing Christmas carols; I will share a message; we will receive Communion; and we will end the service lighting candles and singing, “Silent Night.” I get a shiver just thinking about it.

I encourage everyone to come to Christmas Eve worship at Chain of Lakes and to invite their family, friends and neighbors. It’s my experience that the unchurched are especially willing to attend Christmas Eve worship. Many people who joined our church in Plainview came to our faith community for the first time on Christmas Eve.

Everyone—even people who don’t attend church regularly—knows the basic storyline of Jesus’ birth. But the story is so powerful and so multi-dimensional that it’s worth coming to worship to hear it again. I’ve preached on this story almost every year of my ministry and still discover new and interesting information. Yesterday I thought about the sound of the heavenly host praising God. Can you imagine that sound? The story doesn’t say that the angels were singing, but we assume that they were. That led me to wonder about other places in the Scriptures where the angels were singing. I didn’t have the tools at my disposal to investigate that question, so I asked my Facebook friends for examples of angels singing. I immediately received many responses. This is what the story does to us—it captures us and engages us even if we’ve heard it thousands of times.

Only God could orchestrate a story that combines political intrigue (imagine the response today if the government forced everyone to go to their hometown to be counted), an unmarried couple, shepherds, and angels praising and singing to God. Each of these pieces intersected in an unbelievable way.

I can’t imagine doing anything else on Christmas Eve then joining the angels in worship.

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