The Christ of Christmas
Thursday, we celebrate Christmas at Faith in a most unusual way. Unlike years before, we meet outdoors, socially distanced and masked. I dare say I hope we never have to do this again.
I imagine Joseph and Mary felt the same way that first Christmas.
They would never want to do this again:
- Travel 90 miles in hilly terrain, through dangerous areas, all because the government told them to.
- Be homeless without a place to stay in Bethlehem. It would be a stable where Mary gives birth to her first born. The manger was not likely a wooden one filled with hay pictured, here but a stone feeding trough. The child was not wearing a sleeping cap and is what looks like a Santa suit. Luke writes about saddling clothes.
- The shepherds are the only visitors that day. The Magi would come later, perhaps up to two years later to a house, Matthew tells us.
- In this painting, the only light was new-born life which illuminates the entire group. Such a light is more than enough for the Shepherds. Just to look at new-life and see in it the Beloved of the Lord is enough to send them bolting out into the night with Good News to tell.
Christmas starts and ends when we can look at a child and see the Beloved of the Lord. Angels would sing of this truth. Simeon and Anna waited a lifetime for it. Herod feared it. Shepherds witness to it. They all become like shepherds inviting people to open their eyes and see what they see. “Do you see what I see?”
Martin Luther said: “We see here how Christ, as it were, takes our birth from us and absorbs it in his birth, and grants us his, that in it we might become pure and holy, as if it were our own, so that every Christian may rejoice and glory in Christ’s birth as much as if he had himself been born of Mary as was Christ.”
Mary and Joseph would not like a repeat of that night. But they do see a light that most of Bethlehem misses.
In our time, the world is troubled. Millions have died from COVID, hundreds of thousands in the US. Several of our members and their friends are infected. Tom Grimes son-in-law of Jo and John Boots died of COVID. We do not want a repeat of 2020. But, if we can follow angels, and shepherds and elders in the faith, our hearts can find a light to illumine the darkness. The deep wonder of Christmas is the sacred value of all life. We, too, can be bathed in this light.
Again, to quote Luther:
“Christ has always been the Life and Light, even before his birth, from the beginning, and will ever remain so to the end. He shines at all times in all creatures, in the holy Scriptures, through his saints, prophets, and ministers, in his word and works; and he has never ceased to shine. . . This Gospel light is brought to us, not from a distance, nor do we need to go far to obtain it; it is very near us and shines in our hearts”
This is a different year, unlike any other. We do not want a repeat. Yet in the darkness the Light shines most clearly.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor John Bunge
WORSHIP – Christmas Eve 4:30 p.m. on Zoom and on our Website as well. I will send out the printed service so you can follow along. The Zoom link is
Meeting ID: 862 0128 3525
Sunday 10:00 a.m. – Carols and Readings – The Zoom link is
Meeting ID: 891 1879 2862
Again, I will send out the printed service to follow along.
MEMBER UPDATES AND CONTINUAL PRAYERS
- Pat Kilday has a mild case of COVID. Gary, Bonnie, Alice, Tanya and Laurie Hallberg do as well.
- Jan Wheeler’s cancer surgery was delayed due to a positive COVID test.
- Carol Burgess came through her breast cancer surgery and is home.
- Glenda Kirker had her surgery, it was cancer, continue your prayers.
- Geri is feeling relieved, pneumonia, not COVID, thanks to all the members who reach out to her.
- Continue prayers for Lynda.
- Michael Shea’s daughter, Rebecca, requesting prayer as she ponders her future.
- Becky Malinowski continues her treatments for a reoccurrence of cancer and continues to do well with them.
- Carol Fultz’ sister, Barbara Colangelo, who lives in NJ, underwent surgery, to amputate the upper half of her leg – Carol also has a good friend Claudia Gambino just 77 years old who has come down with Covid and is in intensive care. The ICU beds are please be safe.
- Thanks to all who have support Faith through these troubled times. Your financial support is vital as we journey forward. Thanks to those who have contributed to our landscape fund. Your offerings are a blessing.
- Thanks again to all who will help Wednesday with the last Gazebo a great crew came down from the camp Glen, Nick, Alec Egerstrom and friend Chris, also the Cadys, Lou Hitter and Joe Koenig touched up and cleaned around the church.
- Our next pantry day is this Saturday, December 26th, the day after Christmas. Thanks to the Freds, Eloise and Cliff for restocking the shelves.
- We are working on the landscaping in front of the church. Thanks to Steve Cady’s action team, we put in new poles for our seasonal signs. Next, we will be working on the areas around the signs out front and on the riverbed. A concept drawing of the front area is on the office window.
- Thanks to Jeanne Koenig who Just moved, but who still came to assist in the office.
- Thanks to Eleanor Diaz who made the 40-minute trip again this week to organize our quilting area. She has been making masks, lap blankets and knitted shawls for people.