Someday at Christmastime

The holy season of Advent helps us look forward again to sharing the story of God’s ultimate love told in the birth of Jesus.  On Good Friday we ask, “Why did he have to die?”  In Advent we ask, “Why was he born?” 

“Someday at Christmas” is a worship series that answers that question and reminds us what Christmas is for: remembering our hope, working for peace, and truly caring for one another in the name of Jesus. There are a lot of challenges to living a Jesus-shaped life. Hearing the words of the prophets Isaiah and Mary help us connect to our deep need for Jesus and the courage and strength God gives us to transform the world. 

Week 1: We Are Free 

  • Isaiah 2:1-5

Our hope is stolen when we see nations lifting up weapons against each other. The war in Ukraine is scary and defeating to our spirits. The heart of war between Israel and Palestine leaves us searching for hope. The political wars among us find us searching for even a sliver of light in deep darkness. We’ve lived beneath the weight of a pandemic and the troubling politics it has brought us for so long it’s hard to remember what it felt like “before.” 

Where and when will we find hope again?  

Someday at Christmas, we won’t be stuck in hatred for the opposite party, plans to destroy, jealousy, resentment. There is hope in the trusted words of the prophet: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Jesus frees us from all of that and prepares us to see hope again for a transformed, cruciform life if we are ready to lay all that stuff down, get unstuck, and live a life filled with hope. 

Week 2: Peace on Earth 

  • Isaiah 11:1-10
  • v. 6 “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”
  • “When we have learned what Christmas is for// When we have found what life’s really worth// There’ll be peace on earth”

We sing about “Peace on Earth” during this holy season, wondering if could ever be our reality. Every cultural and social signal tells it it’s not. We’re become accustomed to expecting disagreement, argument, proving our opinions true and someone else’s false. We have begun to devalue each other’s humanity, the gift of life God has given to the world in each of us. 

Our faith in Christ tells us not just that our individual lives find peace in him but that also the peace of the whole world can be found in the courage and witness of his followers. The song tells the story of what the world can be “when we have learned what Christmas is for” and “when we have found what life’s really worth.”  The coming of Jesus as a vulnerable baby shows us the truth of the prophet’s words: that living beings who once hunted each other and now sit down to a meal together show us that God’s intention for life was not that it be destroyed. God’s intention is to give life in all its diversity as a gift—not for competition that leads to fighting among us but for relationship that leads to a peaceful shared life. It’s more than co-existence. It’s a shared existence that brings God glory as we show the world that peace is possible. 

In the words of Linus: “that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Week 3: A World Where People Care  

  • Luke 1:46b-55
  • The Magnificat
  • vv. 53-55 “he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 
  • “Someday at Christmas we’ll see a land//With no hungry children, no empty hand”

Mary’s vision and song are straightforward. God’s desire for the world does not include poverty and oppression.  God’s desire, like in the song, is for “a world where people care” — the kind of caring that is sharing out of true concern and respect for each other, which God teaches us. We are born into a culture that is not symbiotic or interrelated or connected. Were taught that it’s “every person for him/herself.”  This is anti-thetical to the gospel and the root of so much of our division and suffering. Someday we’ll get it right, as Mary’s vision proclaims. In this case, getting it right looks like the end of poverty and pride that gets in the way of human flourishing. 

 

Week 4: Coffehouse Christmas / Lessons & Carols

Christmas Eve: Love Will Prevail 

  • Luke 2:1-20

“Someday at Christmas man will not fail, Hate will be gone and love will prevail”

In the midst of struggle, Mary & Joseph found a way to welcome Jesus.  

In the midst of struggle, he is born into our division in humility and defying expectations

In the midst of deep questioning and doubt for God’s world, he is born under a bright star, the watchful and hopeful eyes on his parents and the animals, and is the bearer of the news that love always wins in the end. 

The world needs this news. We need hope, peace, and care. We need a different way to understand the gift of life and the potential of shared life. We need Brahms’ Lullaby played over the speakers of Grady Hospital every time a baby is born there in the midst of so much pain and grief. 

We need to stop praying and acting for each other’s failures and start praying and supporting each other’s humanity and reflection of the image of God.  We will continue to fail until we see that image restored in each other. So we need to look at each other a different way—not with hope, but with love. The way we do on Christmas Eve. The way we do on Christmas Day. With hope for the future, a heart of peace, and deep care for each other.