Dear St. Luke’s Heart Decorators,
A few weeks ago I received a message on Facebook from one of our St. Lukers. It said they had done exactly what I invited each of us to do the first week in January of this year. They had left out their baby Jesus from the nativity scene as a reminder of the Incarnation throughout the year, but somehow it was lost. Now they have put the Nativity scene out and in their words “Sure hope he shows up by Christmas.” I laughed and said out loud, “truer words were never spoken.”
This week we bring in the manger scene as a symbol of LOVE to our worship spaces and our hearts. I love nativity sets, from the most ornate to the most simple, each as varied as the names of Christ, each holds a picture of God’s love. From the people invited by God to participate in the nativity scene, to the place, geography, and even the implied animals we know were there, each tells another facet of the incredible love of God for the world. Join us for worship Sunday morning at any of our regularly scheduled worship services. To help you prepare your hearts for Sunday worship, and the St. Luke’s celebration of Preeve, you can use the following as your scripture reading guide as we walk toward the manger.
Remember, this Sunday, St. Lukers have a gift we offer to our community every year on December 23; we worship on Preeve in order to ensure there is “room at the inn” for all our visitors and friends on Christmas Eve. Preeve is a St. Luke’s tradition started by Pastor Bill Barnes more than fifteen years ago and one I deeply believe in. We invite you to choose from our three services on December 23 to worship, sing, and light your candles, and then PLEASE come back to serve on December 24 for at least one service (click here to view times you can serve as ushers, greeters, and parking attendants). Be a light in the darkness for someone as you hand them a worship guide or greet them as they wait in line. Show them the warmth, acceptance and hospitality of Christ-centered love that defines us as a St. Luke’s family by helping them find their way from the parking lot to one of our worship spaces. Come share the gift of HOPE as you help people PEACEfully find a parking space and help them all feel the LOVE as they wait to enter the worship space. Share your JOY as you help pick up candles left behind as our guests leave to head home. Preeve is not just about convenience for us, it’s about living into our core values in real and tangible ways on December 24 as we serve in the likeness of the Christ who has come to serve and love. You can sign up to volunteer here!
It’s almost time…. is your heart ready to receive the greatest gift of love ever?
Today, December 20
Micah 5:2-5 (Bethlehem)
- Consider the small town the stable was located in. Why would God choose such a small, no account place for the Savior of the world to be born? How is Bethlehem, as the location of the Incarnation, a gift of love in your life right this very moment?
Friday, December 21
Matthew 1:18-25 (Joseph)
- Joseph was a simple carpenter, chosen to be the surrogate father of the Messiah. He was a faithful man willing to risk everything to say yes to the call God places on his life. What gift of love does God offer to you to know an ordinary, faithful man was chosen by God for such an extraordinary task?
Saturday, December 22
Luke 1:26-38; 46-56 (Mary)
- Mary was a young peasant girl when God’s angel came bearing this gift of her becoming the mother of Jesus. Can you imagine how frightening and unbelievable this moment must have been for her? ““For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant” she sings to God.” How was the choice of Mary a gift of love to the world? What does it mean for you to know God chooses the least likely to bear the greatest gifts to the world?
Sunday, December 23
Luke 2:8-12; 15-20 (Shepherds)
- Shepherds, the last people a new mom would want visiting shortly after giving birth and having to lay her precious newborn in a feeding trough. But that’s who God gave a personal invitation to be the first visitors of the Messiah. Tonight, as St. Lukers, we worship on Preeve to make sure there is room for those God wants to invite to find their way tomorrow to see the Life Light of the world born in the manger. How is this a gift of love we can offer to others? How does the shepherd’s invitation remind you of God’s inclusive love for us all?
Monday, December 24
Luke 2: 1-8 (Stable and a Manger)
- No room for them in the inn, there in the hometown of Joseph. No one, no distant family for them to stay with, no people who had known Joseph’s kin, no one had room for the Messiah to be born. So they were offered a stable, and the Son of God, Light of the world, Savior, was laid in a manger in the midst of the mess. How is the manger a symbol of God’s love being born in your heart this Christmas? Where do you need to make room for Jesus to be born anew?
Tuesday, December 25
Luke 2: 14-15 (Angels)
- The angels sing a message of Love. What song of love have the angels given you this season to sing? Who else may need to hear your song of rejoicing for the gift of Christ being born this day?