Thursday, December 19, 2013


Advent is coming to an end. That means that Christmas is just around the corner. During Advent we worship, pray, and wait on Jesus to come, then on Christmas we gather around a manger and a stable and give thanks. When my children were little girls, we would eat supper together at night and we would light the Advent candle each week. We even had an Advent Calendar and each child would read, when they could read, and draw something on each day of the calendar as we marked the movement of the season toward that glorious Christmas Day. It seemed like forever when we started, but then the time would draw short, and their excitement was my excitement. And, on Christmas Eve, we would gather at the church and worship and light candles and sing our hearts out because that for which we have waited has finally come. I remember one year at the new church we had started down in Charleston, SC. We were still in rented space and people just kept coming and the noise was at a high peak. Children were everywhere and we had a great celebration. This year, as every year, we will come together. Families who aren’t normally together much during the year will gather this night and sing and worship together. Sometimes there is tension in the family and this season has a way of melting the hardest heart. Intellectuals come to please somebody but stand aloof of the rest of us. As we weep and get caught up in the joy of it, they stand above the rest of us in thought because all of this just defies logic. It doesn’t fit any of the officially sanctioned categories of the world. It is a story about a God who comes to us in a baby. Sometimes someone will get converted while worshiping on Christmas. Everything is as it always has been. It’s the same story. We worship in the same ways. Even the “contemporary” churches resort to tradition with a candle lighting service. And, someone mixed in the crowd suddenly gets it. It all becomes clear and they believe for the first time. Something (God) gets hold of them and they suddenly know that it’s all true. All of it. Angels, shepherds, wise men, a star, an evil empire, and a baby, Jesus of Nazareth, is born outside where hardly anyone notices. It’s all true. Underneath the ordinariness of it, there is this vibrant and wonderful living powerful God who is moving, ever moving, to claim people for his kingdom. So, this year, maybe like no other, pray that someone who is worshiping in your family or maybe one of your friends will be moved to see and hear as if for the first time and to proclaim: “It’s all true.” I know it’s hard for us self-sufficient Americans to come to this time of year. We can handle life on our own; we don’t really need God. Of course, if you read the morning paper or listen to the 24 hour news stations, you have to admit that when we have been in control, we’ve pretty much made a mess of this world. Christmas reminds us that we need someone to come from outside of us, a Savior. We need someone to come save us from our own selfish nightmares and make things right forever. God won’t force it; God wants you to be a part of it. So, get ready. On a night much like any other night, a star will shine and we will gather in worship, and this God of love, will move again. I tell you: “It’s all true. All of it.” Blessings! Dave Nichols

Comments on Lectionary - Sept. 1

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