Is this the only day of the year you come to church? Please don’t apologize. You are welcome, and I’m thrilled you came. If you’re only going to come to worship once a year, then this is a good day to pick. It is a pretty awesome day. The Christmas tree is beautiful. The songs are familiar. The story is simple, and the message is powerful. Singing Silent Night at the end of the service with the candles lit give me chills every time. I hope it is moving for you too.
Maybe you’re here because your Grandma insists. Great. We love your Grandma too. I saw her last month in the hospital, and we prayed for you.
Maybe you’re here because you’re looking for your “yearly check up.” Great. I’m glad you still feel connected to God through worship. It might not be a part of your weekly routine, but I’m so glad that you came here to try to encounter something Holy, even if it is only once a year.
Maybe you’re busy every weekend. You intend to come to worship, but it’s just too hard. Great. I know that your time is precious. I’m so glad that you were able to carve out some time now. Christmas is an especially busy season. I’m so glad you were able to be here and worship. Life is hard. I believe that being a part of a worshiping community can help you tremendously. I hope you are blessed by coming.
Maybe you’re back from college, and this service brings back memories of growing up as you live through a transitional time of your life. Great. We’re proud of you, and what you’re becoming. We hope you remember who and whose you are while away at school. Leave your school address, and we’ll send you a care package.
Maybe you’re trying church with your kids. Great. We love kids, and not just the idea of kids. We love real kids. Kids that make noise. Kids that get up and climb the steps. Kids that need something to do. Kids that want to participate in worship, and kids that just want to color. Kids that are looking for a smiling face over the pew. Kids that dance in the aisles when the music is just too good to sit still. We know that raising kids is one of the hardest things we’ll ever try to do, so we’ll be in this together.
Maybe this is the first time you could come back since the loss of a loved one. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m so glad you’re here. I hope you consider this a step toward healing. I know you miss her. I know that Christmas can sharpen the pain. There is someone here that misses someone too. I hope you sit together, and find comfort and joy in the midst of mourning.
Maybe this Christmas you had a strange feeling that maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. Great. I hope you continue to search, and by the way, I love Dr. Seuss too. I hope you encounter something real with us at worship. I pray that you feel connected to God through the songs, the prayers, the Scriptures, and the message proclaimed. I hope that the power of the eternal Word made flesh resonates with you, and opens up a new way of understanding the world.
Maybe you’re searching for a church home. Great. You should know that this is not a typical worship service, but we hope you can come back. May your search be blessed, wherever it takes you. If you want to come back on Sunday, we’ll be here. We’d love to have you. I’d love to walk with you as you dig deeper into your faith. I’d love to see you in a Bible study. I’d love to talk with you over coffee about faith, compassion, forgiveness, Jesus, grace, sin, death, and life. I’d love it if you want to get baptized. I’d love it if you joined us in our mission to transform our community and our world. But if this night is all you want, I’m okay with that.
Maybe you’re a pilgrim searching for truth. Great. There’s room for your questions. No one here has it all figured out. I believe that doubts, questions, and wondering makes faith stronger in the long run. There’s no need to check your brain, your science, or your logic at the door. Maybe though, there is room for some mystery, and we can go on this journey together.
I celebrate that you are here with us today. Sometimes I hear “church folk” or other pastors talk about “C and E Christians.” You know, people who only show up to church on Christmas and Easter. The term is seldom used with kindness. Maybe if the people already established in churches stopped talking about C & Eers with such righteous indignation, more of them would come back on December 28.