Dear Advent Travelers –
We are almost there! It seems odd to say welcome to the fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve all at the same time. Our careful journey of being patient through Advent for about a decade or so suddenly seems to collide together with the celebration of Christmas Eve. 2006 was the last time this happened. We have amazing worship experiences planned for this weekend to help you celebrate both Christmas Eve and the 4th Sunday of Advent.
December 23 Preeve for St. Lukers
(come to worship so you can volunteer and leave empty seats on December 24)
5:00 p.m. Intergenerational Worship: special worship with Children’s Choir, a drama with some special guests, sermon, and special candles for St. Lukers of all ages
6:30 p.m. Traditional Christmas Eve Worship: with Sanctuary Choir, handbells and orchestra in the Sanctuary
8:00 p.m. Contemporary Christmas Eve Worship: with Praise Band and singers in Founder’s Hall
December 24 MORNING Worship
9:00 a.m. 4th Sunday of Advent worship in the Sanctuary and Founder’s Hall
10:00 a.m. Light, Continental Breakfast in Welcome Hall
11:30 a.m. Annual Children’s Interactive Nativity Pageant in Sanctuary:
children can come in Nativity costumes or use one of our available costumes
December 24 Christmas Eve Worship
Traditional Christmas Eve Worship in the Sanctuary at 6:00, 7:30, 9:00, and 11:15 p.m.
Contemporary Christmas Eve Worship in Founder’s Hall at 6:45 and 8:15 p.m.
I hope you have found meaning and significance in your Advent journey. Whether through our scenery of Narnia, the stories of the Pevensie children, the texts of Isaiah or even our special Wednesday night worship, the hope is that each of us found sacred space to examine our world’s and heart’s need for this Savior to come again – into the world and into our hearts.
As I have been exploring this series, I have enjoyed learning more of the life of C. S. Lewis. Jack, as Lewis was called by his friends, was a brilliant man of both reason and imagination. His journey from atheism to Christianity captured the hearts of many throughout the years. Once he reasoned his way into belief, he understood his purpose to explain the power of God’s love and the coming of Christ to normal, everyday people who had given up on faith. Even in his difficult journey of grief, he was authentic and real, never letting go of God, and gave validity to our universal experiences of grief, doubt, struggle, and longing for joy.
The message of Christ coming to us in a manger is not simply to transform our lives. It’s also a gift for us to share with others. People are still longing for joy. Lewis believed this longing was God’s calling to us. Who in your circle of influence may be longing for something more this Christmas? Do you know someone who once had a glimpse of real joy, but is searching for it again? Maybe your story of faith could touch their longing. Maybe your invitation to be our guest is what they need to connect with this story of God’s love in Jesus. As you worship on Preeve, consider who will be sitting in your seat the next night. Pray for them, come and welcome them on the 24th. This year, join the worship team and ushers in being a part of the joy people receive that opens their heart to the whispering of God as they sit by candlelight and gaze at the manger. Who knows, maybe just like C. S. Lewis, Christmas Eve will be the first time they receive Communion and claim this story as their own.
Don’t forget, December 24 MORNING worship is at 9:00 a.m. in both venues, followed by a light continental breakfast fellowship in the Welcome Hall. Then at 11:30 a.m. bring your children to the interactive Nativity Pageant.
Our Sunday morning offering will go to the daily ministry budget. Christmas Preeve and Eve offerings will be given to the UM Children’s Home and to children in central and south Florida who have been displaced because of Hurricanes. I long to worship with you on this holiest of holy weekends.
Until then, may the hope, peace, joy and love of the season embrace you!