Christmas is a time of memories. Many of us have childhood memories that are still clear and sharp, recalling details about gifts and Christmas trees, Christmas cookies made by mom, a house decorated inside and out with special ornaments that recall a time of joy and celebration. The center of all of this for Christians is the beauty and wonder of our worship, as we contemplate the great mystery of God taking the form of a baby to bring us the gift of salvation. Throughout the centuries this pivotal event in the history of human-kind has inspired countless works of art and scores of beautiful music, and has lifted the spirits of weary and discouraged people.
Christmas is time like none other, in which we can once again relive the wondrous story of salvation through the gift of the Christ child. Throughout the weeks of Advent the drama builds and expectations rise as we approach the joyous day of our Savior’s birth. All the doubters and skeptics in the world arrayed against the background of human desecration and destruction wrapped in the apparent finality of death cannot begin to dampen the spirits of those who confess and celebrate the mystery of the incarnation. We proclaim, “Christ is born” and ponder in our hearts as did Mary what marvelous things the Lord has done. Hope is once again given to a hopeless world, and the birth of God’s only Son lights up our way, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I have my own special memories of Christmas at Saint John’s. Our family arrived here in l981, just as the Advent season was beginning. What excitement there was about beginning a new ministry in a new church and getting to do so during the Christmas season. We had just moved into our new home in Fort Collins, and our days were busy and full. People were filled with a spirit of goodwill, and that encouraged me to face the challenges of my ministry with hope and commitment. Indeed, in that first December there were hundreds of new names to put with new faces, the demands of caring for our own family with two little ones, adjusting to a new community and hoping to simply survive the demands of the season. As I recall, there were also three funerals and two weddings to conduct on top of everything else. Mary and I were so excited to be a part of Saint John’s, and the joy of our first Christmas here lives in our memories and has not been diminished by time. Little did we think that 32 years later we would be privileged once again to be serving the wonderful people of this congregation. I will especially prize the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with all of you this year as it seems an added bonus to the many blessings God has given us.
So may this Christmas season be for you an opportunity to experience the gift of God’s grace is a way that is special and wondrous. Christmas is a time for making memories of our mysterious and glorious Savior.