The countdown is on. There are only seventeen days to go! I know. You are all wondering, “What is he talking about?” There are seventeen days until November 01. What happens on November 01? Beginning on November 01, Pastor Adam starts playing Christmas music! That’s right! Joy to the World, the Lord is coming! Why? Why start so early? Well, first of all, I really enjoy Christmas music. Secondly, it began back when I worked for the Postal Service. The Christmas rush is not really all that fun for post office employees. It is like Black Friday six days a week. The stress and anxiety tends to drain dry whatever well of holiday cheer one has stored up. In fact, after a number of years, I began to detest the season rather than rejoice in it. So, I made a decision to start the day after Halloween instead. That way, I got a solid month of the scent of Balsam and Cedar candles, and Good King Wenceslas before the craziness began.
I left my job as postmaster in June of 1997, to head up to Maine and Bangor Theological Seminary. However, I never stopped the practice of my early Christmas celebration. Partly, because I quickly discovered serving a church during the Christmas season is not that much less hectic than it was in the post office, but mostly because, why not? In the Gospel of John we read, “So the Word [Jesus] became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness” (John 1:14). God left heaven and broke into this world to save us – from ourselves. “…God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation” (Romans 5:8-9). I will not spend an eternity in hell – separated from God. All because His Son Jesus was willing to go to the cross and put my sins (not His) to death and forgive me. As Peter tells us, “He [Jesus] personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed” (1 Peter 2:24). That is worthy of my attention. Not just on Sunday, or during the twelve days of Christmas, or in December, or even during Advent. That sacrifice. That gift deserves my attention every day.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving too, and as the pilgrims were Congregationalist’s, like me, I do feel connected to that holiday as well. I enjoy the fact that we gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing, and, it is no secret I love to eat! Nonetheless, a feast here on earth pales in comparison to a feast in heaven at the table of the Lord, and how do I get there? “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). I believe.
So, you start celebrating Christmas whenever you like. For me, I only have seventeen more days. That’s when I like to begin to go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; that Jesus Christ is born!
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