Christmas Eve Message

We had a wonderful service tonight. Sorry we can’t beam out a candle to all who couldn’t join us. But we can post a copy of tonight’s message.

Merry Christmas

 

Christmas Eve   2011

Rev. Anne Russ

Since early November, our family life has revolved around the rep’s performance of A Christmas Carol the Musical.  Our daughter was the understudy, or “swing” for the all of the girl children in the play. This was not something we planned. Maddie didn’t audition for any roles, she was asked to step-in to this step-in role by the much-adored Ms. Nicole. Allow me a proud mom moment to say that my child has a ridiculously good memory and unlike when it comes to cleaning her room, when it comes to theater and performing, she is extremely disciplined.  She was totally tickled to be thought of, and we said “yes”—having no idea exactly what we were saying yes to. The rehearsal schedule was intense—sometimes going 12 hours a day—and exhausting, but she loved it.   When the play finally launched, Maddie got a chance to rest—she was only required to show up a couple of times a week to keep her memory fresh or if someone couldn’t show.  It was still a little stressful. I had to actually keep up with my cell phone, and we had to make sure that we weren’t ever out-of-pocket at show time, just in case she was needed.

We figured Maddie would be called on at least once or twice. What were the chances of four kids staying well (or even completely conscious) all through December under such a demanding show schedule? She knows the songs by heart and every line and every cue, but the call hasn’t come. The role of the swing is to always be prepared whether your get the call or not, and quite honestly, she’s handled that with far more grace than I have.

Of course, we’re not the only ones who have been busy. Since early November (or even earlier), most of you have been getting ready for Christmas. Buying gifts, decorating homes, baking goodies, making travel plans. Some of you have been lighting candles at home and engaging in daily devotions for Advent.  Many of you have been working hard to make sure that people who are struggling this season have a Merry Christmas as well. You have been preparing your hearts and your minds and your homes for Christmas.  And here it is.  The Christmas Eve candlelight service, followed by sharing gifts and enjoying great food with friends and family.  By tomorrow evening, it will all be over.

But if you believe that, then you’ve missed your cue.  What you have been preparing for does not end here. The birth of Christ is not over because the presents are all unwrapped and dinner is nothing more than a smattering of leftovers. Christmas is not the end of the story. This is where it all begins.

And unlike Maddie, who got paid for waiting in the wings, you cannot reap the full benefits of Christmas unless you take to the stage.

Tonight is the night the call has come.  Check your voicemail, your text messages, your Facebook and your Twitter account.  You are being called. The show starts tonight, and your presence on stage has been requested.  Don’t worry. You know the story. You know all the songs.  It’s opening night. The night that love came down in the form of a baby born in barn. Emmanuel. God with us.

It is the original mission impossible story. The timeless, changeless God enters into a world that is bound by time and ever-changing. The mighty God who created all things crashes into the world as a humble infant.  The powerful God who knows all, delights in using the small, the weak, and the foolish things of the world to humble the great, the mighty, and the wise.  That God—the one who makes possible the impossible—is calling. That God is calling you. We are all called to take to the stage and play our part in the story of the greatest gift the world has ever known. The production opens tonight and is set to run all year long.

Howard Thurman says it best in his poem, The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among [all people],

To make music in the heart.

Christmas is here, and you are called to play the part of one who knows that God is with us and that we are never alone.  It is, indeed, the role of a lifetime, so don’t miss your chance to take to the stage.

And Merry Christmas to us, every one.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve

2011

Rev. Anne Russ

 

Since early November, our family life has revolved around the rep’s performance of A Christmas Carol the Musical.  Our daughter was the understudy, or “swing” for the all of the girl children in the play. This was not something we planned. Maddie didn’t audition for any roles, she was asked to step-in to this step-in role by the much-adored Ms. Nicole. Allow me a proud mom moment to say that my child has a ridiculously good memory and unlike when it comes to cleaning her room, when it comes to theater and performing, she is extremely disciplined.  She was totally tickled to be thought of, and we said “yes”—having no idea exactly what we were saying yes to. The rehearsal schedule was intense—sometimes going 12 hours a day—and exhausting, but she loved it.   When the play finally launched, Maddie got a chance to rest—she was only required to show up a couple of times a week to keep her memory fresh or if someone couldn’t show.  It was still a little stressful. I had to actually keep up with my cell phone, and we had to make sure that we weren’t ever out-of-pocket at show time, just in case she was needed.

 

We figured Maddie would be called on at least once or twice. What were the chances of four kids staying well (or even completely conscious) all through December under such a demanding show schedule? She knows the songs by heart and every line and every cue, but the call hasn’t come. The role of the swing is to always be prepared whether your get the call or not, and quite honestly, she’s handled that with far more grace than I have.

 

Of course, we’re not the only ones who have been busy. Since early November (or even earlier), most of you have been getting ready for Christmas. Buying gifts, decorating homes, baking goodies, making travel plans. Some of you have been lighting candles at home and engaging in daily devotions for Advent.  Many of you have been working hard to make sure that people who are struggling this season have a Merry Christmas as well. You have been preparing your hearts and your minds and your homes for Christmas.  And here it is.  The Christmas Eve candlelight service, followed by sharing gifts and enjoying great food with friends and family.  By tomorrow evening, it will all be over.

 

But if you believe that, then you’ve missed your cue.  What you have been preparing for does not end here. The birth of Christ is not over because the presents are all unwrapped and dinner is nothing more than a smattering of leftovers. Christmas is not the end of the story. This is where it all begins.

 

And unlike Maddie, who got paid for waiting in the wings, you cannot reap the full benefits of Christmas unless you take to the stage.

 

Tonight is the night the call has come.  Check your voicemail, your text messages, your Facebook and your Twitter account.  You are being called. The show starts tonight, and your presence on stage has been requested.  Don’t worry. You know the story. You know all the songs.  It’s opening night. The night that love came down in the form of a baby born in barn. Emmanuel. God with us.

 

It is the original mission impossible story. The timeless, changeless God enters into a world that is bound by time and ever-changing. The mighty God who created all things crashes into the world as a humble infant.  The powerful God who knows all, delights in using the small, the weak, and the foolish things of the world to humble the great, the mighty, and the wise.  That God—the one who makes possible the impossible—is calling. That God is calling you. We are all called to take to the stage and play our part in the story of the greatest gift the world has ever known. The production opens tonight and is set to run all year long.

 

Howard Thurman says it best in his poem, The Work of Christmas

 

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among [all people],

To make music in the heart.

 

Christmas is here, and you are called to play the part of one who knows that God is with us and that we are never alone.  It is, indeed, the role of a lifetime, so don’t miss your chance to take to the stage.

 

And Merry Christmas to us, every one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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