No, this is not a message about Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, St. Nick, or Father Christmas. I am going to focus on Jesus, our Savior, whose birth will celebrate on Christmas Eve at Cross. But, first, I want to ask you who you will spend Christmas with this year. Who will you worship with that night? Who will be at the table to enjoy the Christmas dinner? Where will your worship? What food will you enjoy? What presents will you give? How will all these come together at Christmas?
Last year I asked my Confirmation class two weeks after Christmas what they received for gifts. Only a few could immediately recall the specific gifts they received. But, all the students shared with the class who they spend Christmas with and what that meant to them. Pretty profound, isn’t it?
I want to encourage you to focus on people more than ever this December and Christmas. Be thankful for everyone present. Take a moment to acknowledge those who are absent- friends and relatives who have passed, friends and relatives who are not able to travel this year, loved ones and friends serving overseas in the military, etc.
And, I want to challenge you to invite someone in to your celebrations this year. Invite someone from church or work of the neighborhood who you know will be alone this Christmas. And, you might even go out of your comfort zone to invite someone new into your celebration- a coworker who might be alone, a widowed senior citizen, a college student unable to go home for the holidays, etc.
My wife and I have good friends who are carrying on their family tradition of all preparing two extra meals and place settings for Christmas. These are the places for new friends, new acquaintances, the lonely, the hurting, those new to town or church.
Let’s open our hearts to others this Christ, just as God opened his heart to us by sending us the Christ child.
Blessings to all you!
-Pastor Durk K. Peterson