Christmas -- How Strong is the Power of Love
Post date: Dec 20, 2021 4:2:39 PM
Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,
Blessings of Advent love to you!
Hope, peace, joy, love. We have been on an Advent journey together toward a dusty stable where the soon-coming birth of a child has dared us to hope again. It has been a time of waiting and expectation. And, to be sure, it is often thought of as a magical and wondrous time of year, full of childlike joy and excitement.
Yet, despite all the magic we see around us we may feel like we’re missing something somewhere, or like we’ve been wandering in the wilderness far from home. But the good news of great joy for this time of year is that we’re not alone; that God’s steadfast love is better than life, because such love came all the way down as one of us to be with us: Emmanuel, God with us. What unconditional love is this! Because God dared to risk it all God became flesh, and God’s presence is always with us and never-ending. It is better than life itself; God is our home.
I’ve often wondered, on that holy night, a night without the glitterati but instead a uniquely beautiful and bright morning star, were the shepherds feeling God’s presence when this star shone all around them? And what were Mary and Joseph thinking? Did they feel the Spirit’s comfort in the watches of the night as they struggled through the pains of childbirth? I imagine they were quite scared of what was ahead of them, and may have even felt a desperate loneliness for they were certainly far from the comforts of home. I would like to think, as descendants of King David, that they remembered these words from Scripture, as a form of comfort, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name” (Psalm 63.3-4).
God’s steadfast love is better than life.
As Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann describes this kind of love: Big love. Deep love. Abundant, overwhelming, sweep-you-off-your-feet, knock-you-over-with-love love. Because that’s the kind of love that God had for our ancestors and has for us. But we’re so often too busy to even notice. So notice, . . . notice that you are surrounded by, infused with, and kept in life by love — God’s love, that beating heart of the universe.
In this season where we’re hurrying and scurrying all around, when COVID continues to relentlessly hover all around us and make us weary, I invite you to take the time to wait, rest, and be still this week. Pay attention to the light and love that is soon-coming into our world. Let us find a place where we can pause, lift up our hands, call on God’s name, and feel God’s presence in the form of a vulnerable baby who gives us true, abiding peace. Take the time to notice, child of God, you are loved.
So, come and bring a friend this Christmas Eve to celebrate the gift of love coming into the world at our Family Friendly Candlelight worship at 6 PM in person or on FaceBook live. Our Handbell Choir will call us to stillness for the Prelude. The New Jericho Choir will bless us with the song “Shout for Joy” and the Joyful Noise Adult Choir will sing “Some Children See Him.” Michelle Reno will be our featured soloist for “O Holy Night.” I will be reading Max Lucado’s Itsy Bitsy Christmas for story time with the children. And my message for this Christmas Eve is called When God Dares to Love. In addition, the Consistory and I invite you to send in/bring a special Christmas offering in addition to your regular offering so we can continue to do the good work to which God has called us. Perhaps you would like to give to the Pride Fund, or the Capital Campaign Fund to help pay for building projects, or an additional offering to the General Fund to support the operating expenses of the church. Whatever you give, may you do so with a glad and generous heart.
In closing, I leave you with this Christmas Prayer. I am grateful to serve as your pastor, and, in joy, look forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior together.
May this eternal truth be always on our hearts
That the God who breathed this world into being
Placed stars into the heavens
And designed a butterfly's wing
Is the God who entrusted his life
to the care of ordinary people
became vulnerable that we might know
how strong is the power of Love
A mystery so deep it is impossible to grasp
A mystery so beautiful it is impossible to ignore (Faith and Worship)
Christmas blessings of hope, peace, joy, and love,
As you are aware, the numbers of COVID-19 infections have risen rapidly in our area, especially the highly transmissible Omicron variant. As your pastor who loves and cares for you, I strongly urge you to keep doing what you’ve been doing for 20 months — wear your mask, wash your hands frequently, and practice safe social interactions — as it is my prayer that each and every one of you remain healthy and well. That said, every one must wear a mask for worship and ALL indoor church events. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.