For our family, the focus of Christmas was Christmas Eve. Yes, we shopped for presents, listened to Christmas music, put up a Christmas tree, looked forward to posole and tamales Christmas Eve, spent time with Joan’s family in Albuquerque or mine in Kansas, and opened presents Christmas morning. But, from the time our children were small, we always looked forward to a Christmas Eve church service followed by a family time.
That time started with reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (with each member rubbing the fuzzy surface of Santa’s clothes), then several children’s books built around Jesus’ birth. Next, I would read about His birth from the Bible and we would have a short time of prayer. The kids would then go off to bed while Joan and I finished wrapping presents.
As our children became adults and we began adding grandchildren, we continued meeting at our house for Christmas and the Christmas Eve service followed by the family time (without changes – including the mandatory rubbing of Santa’s clothes).
Then the Lord sent Joan and me to Africa and we missed the tradition for 6 years. In the U.S. the meeting place moved to our daughter’s home since she had children and our son was not yet married. But, other than that, Christmas Eve was the same.
In Nigeria, things were different. The months leading up to Christmas were marked by an increased rate of armed robberies. And there were no Christmas Eve services because it was too dangerous to be out after dark. So Christian families gathered in their homes early. There was little outward evidence of Christmas and, because of unreliable phone service, the likelihood that we could communicate with our children in the U.S. was slim to none. But we had God’s Word, knew His abiding presence, and had experienced His utter faithfulness, and they were more than enough.
Now that Joan and I are back in the U.S., we still meet at our daughter’s home as they did when we were gone. And now that we have grown grandchildren (as well as an infant grandson), the tradition still holds, always ending with Scripture.
The time in Nigeria was a real blessing to us in many ways. One of them was in moving more of the Point of Christmas more from our heads to our hearts. No matter the tradition of the culture where one is living, there are things that are firm and unchangeable.
Particularly that “God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son..” By itself, that fact is an absolute wonder! And He did it for a purpose “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). The accounts of His birth carry evidence that Jesus met all the requirements for the long awaited Savior of the world; the only One who could reconcile us to God as we put our faith in Him.
At the end of the day, our confidence and comfort are in Him and Him alone. What a great privilege we have to be able to celebrate His birth openly and without fear!
May the reality of His presence fill you with His peace and joy this Christmas and always.
We are excited to announce that we will have an in-person worship service outside at 8:30am in the MCC parking lot! We can’t wait to see you! In addition, our Sunday live-stream (on Facebook and Instagram) will move to 10:00am for the foreseeable future for those who are not be able to join us.
We’ve chosen for our service to happen outdoors as there are still a number of requirements and protocol for indoor gatherings. So, we are not inviting you to join us indoors at this time. Instead, come for our outdoor gathering, or continue to join us online later from home.
Please read the Guidelines for Gathering to Worship Together at MCC in its entirety so that you know what to expect when you come to our outdoor service. This will help you and those around you navigate a very new situation, hopefully in a way that is as seamless as possible. We believe that our unity will be expressed and strengthened as we serve one another in Christ this week so join us in extending grace to each other, amid our differing perspectives, and different views about how to live in this time.
“... submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
“Outdo one another in showing honor.”
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Please know that we are making every effort for this gathering to be in full compliance with the protocols given by authorities. No single plan for our meeting will ever be the perfect solution in any one person’s eyes. We will all be making compromises. But as we defer to these guidelines set up by our elders and leadership, we will be serving our fellow believers, honoring Christ as best we can, and providing for a beautiful expression of worship to happen together.
Please stay home if any of the following apply to you:
- You are immunocompromised.
- You are feeling ill (running a fever, coughing, or showing other signs of sickness)
Please don’t put yourself or others at risk. Thank you for staying home and staying safe, because we love you!