Deep Joy, True Joy
I do love this season, and it has had a special sparkle the last few years as I have seen the wonders of Christmas made fresh through the young eyes of our two children. For them, with shorter memories and experiences, Christmas is not filled with traditions, but brand new experiences. And the joy they find, increases our own.
Every morning of this season of Advent we have opened a numbered flap retrieving a mystery nativity figure, slowly building our way towards the finale. A few weeks ago we decided we would cut down our own tree this year , an activity which taught us two-year-olds aren’t great with saws or patience. Last night I sat with Scarlett in the chapel for our midweek service, which ended up being one of those surprising and rare moments of great parental contentment and thankfullness, as we sang together and snuggled during worship.
Lights. Trees. Wreaths. Cookies. Wrapping. Unwrapping. Eggnog… And occasionally a penguin. All of these things and much more make the season special. It is good to get caught up in sentimental wonder and nostalgic Christmas romance for a while. But as we go through these pre-Christmas days we also must remind ourselves that if the nostalgia and romance of the season become the substance, they will be come deceptive, vanishing just as we reach for their illusive promise.
What I mean is, sometimes in our search for joy, we go looking in places that can never fully house it. The trappings and traditions of the season are good and sometimes great. Well-planned presents and lavish family dinners may be at the center of our Christmas celebrations, but they can never be the heart.
Why? All of these things, these good things – signs and symbols, surprises and wonders, are not the thing themselves, they simply point to the thing, a deeper truth, waiting to bring great joy.
For in “the fullness of time . . . God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4), in whom “the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19), in order that we who are full of condemning sin might be fully emptied of our sin and “filled up with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19) and experience the “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11; John 15:11).
Joy is found in time with family and friends, which show us that God is with us, Emmanuel. Joy is found in gifts, given and received, which reveal to us God’s greatest gift, His Son. Joy is found in feasts that fill the table, which show us a God who provides, and who is preparing the greater feast to come. Joy is found in Christmas lights, which illuminate for us the truth that Light has broken the darkness, and Light now dwells in our hearts.
When we find this deep joy, and true joy, the thing behind these things, it actually makes all of the other Christmas traditions more joyful. Then we are able to enjoy them for themselves, simply, while at the same time taking in, with wonder, the great story God has wrapped up within so many great sign and symbols, prophesies and predictions, leading to joy-filled fulfillment waiting in the end.
Our Christmas Worship Schedule:
Christmas Eve 10:00am, Family Service
Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year. Join us at 10:00am for a “family service” as we tell the Christmas story in a way that will be accessible to all ages. This service will feature special Christmas music, the opening of our final Advent gift, as well as a celebration of the Eucharist.
Christmas Eve 7:30pm, Candlelight Service
Join us at 7:30pm for one of the most beautiful and meaningful services of the year as we celebrate the Light who broke into the darkness of our world. Our Christmas Eve service will feature traditional readings, Christmas hymns, Holy Communion, and carols sung by candlelight.
Christmas Day 10:00am, Eucharist Service
Join us also on Christmas Day for worship with Eucharist at 10:00am as we celebrate the birth of the Savior.
Thank you to everyone who helped before, during and after Breakfast with Santa and Bags of Love 2017. Also thank you to everyone who attended. We filled 46 Bags of Love to be given to the Montgomery Coalition for the Homeless.
Help a Calvary family with a Meal! Meals are being collected for the Kimimino family as they continue adapting to life with two children. If you are able to help out, follow this link to sign up https://mealtrain.com/dm0m2v
The readings are: Isaiah 64:1-4, 8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28.