Encounter: Meditate on God’s Word found in Isaiah 9:2, 6 - John 1:3-5 & Luke 2:8-14. Begin to think about how light is used by God to tell us the story of creation and redemption. How does this begin to stir hope within you?
Taking a break from a full morning of meetings and phone calls, I caught myself looking at the old piano in the Friendship House. I began to imagine how many of our beloved Christmas hymns were heard throughout the Advent seasons of the past through this beautiful instrument.
It made me think of Christmas’ gone by and how many stories there must be of people who decided to attend a church service this time of year because something in them was drawing them to live a better version of themselves.
Perhaps they were inspired through one of these heart-felt Christmas songs, a nativity scene or Advent candles ablaze on the altar. Maybe it was the warmth it brought to their heart when a kind word from another brought them hope and a sense of belonging. It could be that these invitations drew them to live into a more compassionate and loving person because the light of God broke into their darkness and their lives suddenly became entwined with God’s story.
In the movie, The Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge had forgotten his own purpose and story. He was no longer aware of how the experiences and memories of his past had shaped him and was causing him to live out of his broken places and there is a bit of Scrooge in each one of us. But we have hope! “Christ doesn’t call us to follow because we are perfect, but because through Christ we are perfected in love."* This is the message we spread and in the waiting for this transformation in our own hearts, we have hope for others.
All these visuals help us remember and share God’s story and find our place within it and it is why we put all our energy into decking the halls, serving in love and ringing bells and singing as we reach out to carry on Jesus’ mission of offering the world a new vision of what life with God really means.
Like Jesus in Luke 4, we speak our purpose, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to be hope for the poor, healing for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.” And it is God’s purposes lived out through our lives that truly brings hope from heartbreak.
So, then we see. Through war time and prosperity, through births and the loss of loved ones, through fires and rebuilding, through people coming and going, through happy times and seasons of great pain, through times of want and plentiful harvest, the comfort of singing,…the hopes and fears of all the years have met in thee tonight, bring to life our own hopes of what life can be when we live life with God.
God Bless Us Everyone!
Reflect: What kind of music “moves” you during Christmas? What about those songs moves you or brings you closer to Jesus? How does this vision of light piercing darkness and giving hope, bring you a different focus for your own life?
Encourage: Knowing this is a season when some people may consider coming to a church service or gathering in a home, pray about and consider who God is asking you to BLESS with an invitation.
Gather: As you meet with your small groups, gather around the visuals of our Christmas celebrations and talk about the memories of Christmas past that were both good and difficult. What do these visuals remind you of? What gives you hope in this season when we are still waiting for peace and goodwill for all people?
*from The Redemption of Scrooge by Matt Rawle