My family always went to church on Christmas Day. Like many families we would wake early, tumble down the stairs and tear open the gifts under our tree. My mother would slip in and out preparing a special Christmas breakfast for us to enjoy. But then we would rush to dress and dash to church every Christmas, even after staying up for midnight services the night before, even when Christmas day did not fall on a Sunday.
The Christmas morning service was different from any other worship service. Instead of a sermon families would tell about the gifts they had received. Children might bring a favorite toy. Parents of adult children would gush over a new son-in-law. Some would talk of healing from an injury or disease, or care they had received from members of the congregation.
One year, I wish I was old enough to remember it, I was the gift that my parents had talked about. They had given up expecting to have a child of their own when I was conceived. That year, a few weeks after I was born, I was baptized on Christmas morning.
For as many years as I have been a pastor, on the Sunday following Christmas Day, I have tried to capture the essence of Christmas morning worship services from my youth, except for the rush of trying to do everything on Christmas morning.
This year, at 10:00 on Christmas morning, I hope you will bring a remembrance of a gift you received this year. It might be a toy, a story how friends, family, or congregation members helped you, a new member of your family, or healing from disease or accident. I look forward to hearing our stories of how God has been with us this year, hinting of when we might sense God with us in the year ahead.
Yours in Christ,
Robert Shaw, Pastor