Christmas Eve service at Calvary Baptist was Lessons in Carols. This is always a nice tradition. One is blessed to receive the Word of God as it is read and then sung in carols.
This season has been challenging for me, as it is for so many. People struggle with depression, loneliness, and anxiety; often for very justifiable reasons. They may not have any money with which to pay their bills let alone purchase a gift for their child. A special someone may have passed away and this is the first holiday without their beloved presence. Or perhaps a person struggles with depression, just because. I’ve gritted my teeth to get through each day since Thanksgiving, just one day at a time. There are many of us.
Tonight, while sitting in the pew, surrounded by so many other worshippers, with my own family next to me, I found myself praying and looking around at all the people. Across the aisle were a Grandmom and Grandpop holding their sweet five month old great-granddaughter. She was absolutely beautiful and so pleasant. She smiled and cooed at her Grandpop while he bounced her on his knee.
In front of me a Dad put his arm around his wife and reached to squeeze his daughter’s arm. The young man to her right was stone-faced, as was she. I wondered the story behind the father’s touch.
To my left were four young men, all dressed in Christmas finery; ties, suit jackets, neatly trimmed beards and side-burns. One was just staring at nothing in particular; a very solemn look on his face. What was going through his mind?
I noticed a banner hanging on the wall; bright blue with gold lettering that said “Joy to the World” under which was a manger with the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Joy. Joy…to the World? Joy. What is joy? So what? I’ve sung that carol for all my life. Big deal! Then it hit me. The joy is Christ! God gave Christ (JOY) to the world! How have I missed that message for so long?!??!?!?!
The pastor stood to read the Gospel of St. John 1:1-14; a particularly wonderful scripture passage. St. John wrote in verse: 5 “The Light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it.” And still doesn’t understand the Light. The Light is offensive to the darkness.
And in verse10 “…though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.” (Emphasis mine.) That which He created did not recognize its Creator! The world itself did not recognize Christ, the spoken Word of God! How could that be? How?
It struck quite a blow as I came to understand how many people do not understand or recognize the JOY that God gave to the world in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. They miss the true meaning of Christmas. Lord have mercy! Even more so, I almost missed it! Nothing but the grace of God through His JOY opened my eyes to see the Light that shines, our Creator and Savior who is Christ the Lord.
In this, I was truly blessed. And so it is my prayer for all – that the JOY to the World, the Light which Shines, the Word spoke at Creation – is revealed to the world on this Blessed Festal Day! That those who have eyes – SEE! That those who have ears – HEAR!
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!