Christmas Eve Message
I've been struggling with the writing of my Christmas Eve message. I know! The day of and for the first time in seven years of providing Advent and Christmas Eve worship, not looking forward to the service. Especially since we decided it will be offered only online. Not even our every-Sunday faithfuls will be present in the sanctuary tonight.
On Christmas Eve, the services at the church I serve in a small town in rural Nova Scotia always begin with a solo by the daughter of one of our members -- O Holy Night. In our large, high-ceilinged Methodist church, Julia's voice soars. Her solo is a perennial favourite and it wouldn't be Christmas Eve without it.
The worship team is still in place -- including soloist and young candlelighters -- so this will provide some joy and continuity for those watching at home.
Last year, my message was inspired by the phrase, "a weary world rejoices" and the gist of the message was the idea that the world as we know it is over.
But it seems as if it's not. Now we are into Covid Christmas 2.0 and I had no idea what to write. I tried to tweak the message to be about resting rather than rejoicing, which isn't far off what we need right now, but the message didn't feel as uplifting as I feel it needs to be for Christmas Eve. I'm not one who shies away from honest writing and hard truths but right now, we're all dragged down and frankly, the more I tried to write about how we are feeling right now, the less I felt like reading it out loud.
The more depressed I felt, in fact.
Cue my mother's head popping through the door of my office. She lives with my husband and me, and is my sounding board for my church work.
Knowing the song I was working with, she said, "How about writing about o holy night instead? After all, no matter what is going on, this is the holy night."
"Okay, thanks, now go away and let me write," said the temperamental, and rather desperate, lay worship leader.
O holy night
and kept going.
The process works every time. The whole message flowed out of me -- as a poem more than a "proper" sermon -- and had me writing exactly what I wanted to say for this particular Christmas Eve at this particular time. This is the blessing and the mercy of my Christmas 2021.
In looking up the lyrics of O Holy Night to make sure I was getting some words correct, I came across the last verse of the song, which we rarely hear. Most singers, ours included, sing only the first verse and the chorus.
But the final verse made me shiver because it's exactly what I know to be true, and what guides everything I write. It's not just the reason for the season but the reason the world (especially the weary world) needs more Jesus:
"Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name."
His law is love and his gospel is peace...
and in his name, all oppression will cease.
Amen to that,
and Merry Christmas.