A favorite tradition for Christmas Eve is to sing together by candlelight. Whether holding an actual candle, or one powered by a battery or enjoying burning candles from a safe distance, the soft glow of candlelight creates a reflective mood. Each year I look forward to this tradition, but this year the experience will be different.
This year, most of us will remain in the comfort and safety of our own homes. Safe distancing continues to be the most effective way to help each other stay healthy and alive. While a few of us will gather in the Arts Center at the Asbury main campus and in the South Flint Soup Kitchen parking lot, most of us will participate from home.
But circumstances don’t change the significance of the evening. Each Christmas Eve, we remember the birth of a child. Referred to by many names and titles, including Jesus of Nazareth, Yeshua, Yahweh, Christ, Messiah, Emmanuel, King, the Word, and the Light of the World.
We learn from scripture that Jesus is God’s autobiography. And in God’s revelation of God’s self, Jesus represents the parts of the story that are most relevant. The details that mean the most to you and me. Jesus is the King that all human rulers answer to, regardless of election outcomes, incompetencies, corruption, and partisan rhetoric.
Jesus is God’s gift to humankind. He is present with us amid pandemics and storms. And because of this gift, we can do more than endure. We can flourish.
The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.
Over the past several weeks, the days have grown noticeably shorter. In mid-December, this reverses, and the days grow a bit longer each day. According to the Julian calendar, the winter solstice occurs on December 25, which is why we celebrate Christmas on that date each year. But in the 16th century, the western world adopted the Gregorian calendar, moving the winter solstice to the 21st.
Although both celebrations deal with light, the church chose to keep Christmas on a different day from the winter solstice to avoid confusion over the reason for our celebration.
The Gospel of John refers to Jesus as light shining in the darkness. And our theme for Christmas Eve is Jesus as the Light of the World. Together our individual lights shine even Brighter than when we go it alone.
We often refer to Jesus as the Light of the World, so our symbols include a candle and a luminary. The candle represents each of us, and the luminary represents our place in the community. Our lights shine both individually and within the community where we work together with others.
God is always near. And God proved His love for us by living among people, teaching through His words and acts. Incarnation is the subject of our December series. I invite you to join us online on Christmas Eve at 6 pm. Be sure to order and pickup your Christmas celebration gift box. Go to our website homepage.
We have a new button on the homepage of our website – Click here to watch. This button takes you to a viewer to allow you to join live or watch later in the week. We’re also live on Facebook and our newly launched YouTube channel. You can find these links along with more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.
A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to info@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.
1 Adam Hamilton. Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas. © 2020. Nashville: Abingdon Press.