Christmas at St. John's, Lafayette
Third Sunday in Advent, December 17th
8:00 & 10:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist
12:00 noon Greening of the Church
Tuesday, December 19th
6:00 p.m. "Longest Night" Service
Fourth Sunday in Advent & Christmas Eve,
10:15 a.m. Morning Prayer with Hymns
4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
9:00 p.m. Carol Prelude
9:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Christmas Day, Monday, December 25th
10:15 a.m. Christmas Day Service
1st Sunday after Christmas, December 31st
8:00 a.m. & 10:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist
Baptism of Our Lord, January 7th
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
10:15 a.m. Baptism and Holy Eucharist
We have to be careful with the Christmas story. We are now more than two thousand years removed from the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Things probably didn’t happen quite the way the stories are typically told. The history doesn’t match our favorite Christmas movies or Christmas songs or even our Christmas pageants at church. When we tell these stories, we take the starch out of what was surely a very gritty reality. After all, anyone who’s had a baby knows that they can be tender and mild, but that they cry. A lot.
The true story—the story that the Gospel writers are trying to tell us—involves a stiff dose of reality and a fair amount of danger. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is born in a barn surrounded by stinking animals and dirty shepherds. In Matthew’s Gospel, just after his birth, Jesus and his family have to flee to Egypt. Herod the puppet king wanted to kill Jesus because he saw this newborn baby as a political rival. In John’s Gospel with its exalted description of the Word of God made flesh in Jesus, we read that the world did not recognize Jesus for who he was and for what he had come to do. All of this foreshadows the way Jesus will be rejected and killed later on. In all that tenderness and mildness, there is more than enough reality and danger and cynicism to go around—a surprise pregnancy, a long journey, packed inns, political intrigue, and a harrowing escape, all in the service of ancient prophecies and God’s dream for creation.
But even then—even with that stiff dose of reality—the Christmas story tells us something powerful, something beautiful. As Luke tells it, Christmas is about God coming to be with the least and the lost, filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty. As Matthew tells it, it’s about the way Jesus upsets the political and social order, putting “the ruler of this world” on notice that God is really in charge and that God blesses the meek and the peacemakers, the abused and neglected. As John puts it, even though the world rejects God’s dream, in Jesus, God still comes to save the world from ultimate catastrophe. Whatever else it is, the Christmas story is about God becoming flesh and ay dwelling with human beings. Whatever else it is, the Christmas story is about God making his home in the midst of the joy and pain of human life. Whatever else it is, Christmas is a bright, shining example of God’s absolute, unshakable love for humanity.
Sisters and brothers, may you receive grace upon grace throughout the coming Christmas season. Even in the midst of troubling and difficult times, may you experience the presence of God in your lives. Even if your reality doesn’t look like the Christmas card or doesn’t come full circle like the happy-ever-after Christmas movie or isn’t quite as tender and mild as the Christmas hymn supposes, may you experience the absolute, unshakeable love of God.
Join us at St. John’s as we celebrate God’s presence with us.