Pastor’s Monthly Message

Dear Siblings in Christ,

First, a word of thanks. By the time you are reading this we’ll have marked one year in ministry together; one year since I started as your pastor. It was a busy first year, filled with learning and getting to know each other and all the things that happen in the life of the church. It was a good first year. And for that I am so very grateful. I’m grateful for each of you and your presence and participation in our community of faith. I look forward to continuing our ministry together and seeing what God has in store for us.

At our latest worship committee meeting (did you know we have a worship committee? We meet every so often to pick music and plan worship, and we may or may not goof off a little too… if you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you! Just let me know and we’ll loop you in the next time we schedule a meeting!) we were working on Advent and Christmas planning. We started talking about Christmas Eve worship and after going around for a bit trying to settle on a time (5:00pm!) it was brought to my attention that there was some wondering as to why I changed the order of the service last year.

As you may recall I moved the lighting of the candles and the singing of “Silent Night” from the latter part of the service, to the beginning of the service and had the lights turned on gradually as the service progressed. It was done intentionally. I’m not one to make changes to liturgy, especially a liturgy as familiar and beloved as Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, willy-nilly. The reason for the change is Advent. The season of the church year that marks the four weeks leading up to Christmas. It happens to be my favorite season of the church year followed quite closely by Lent. (Yes, I know, I’m weird.) Advent is the season that most honestly names and acknowledges our human condition of longing, waiting, and restlessness. It’s also a time of anticipation, and preparation. And it’s a build up to my favorite holiday, Christmas.

The word “advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means coming. So it is a season that anticipates the coming or the arrival both of the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem and the 2nd coming of Christ. The origins of the advent season aren’t well known but it is the last of the liturgical seasons to have been added to the calendar. In some practices, the season of Advent is penitential and somber, while in other traditions it is a much more relaxed and upbeat season of anticipation and celebration. I think the Lutheran practice lands somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

So, the reason for starting Christmas Eve worship with the lights, save for the Christmas lights and candles, off is to begin in the final moments of Advent. To remember that we’re still waiting and that there are still preparations to be made. To build the anticipation and excitement just a little more. And, the high point, the crescendo, of the Christmas Eve service is the Christmas Story, the gospel reading. Starting with low lights and candles and quiet and “Silent Night” gives us a place to start from, to build on, as we move toward the high point, the crescendo, the Christmas Story. And once we’ve reached that crescendo, once we’ve built to the joy and the excitement of the night and the story, once we’ve heard again the good news of great joy that our Savior has been born, I don’t want to slow down. I want to keep the momentum and the joy and the excitement going. And for as much as I love the candle light and singing “Silent Night” (it really is my favorite part of Christmas Eve worship) it doesn’t quite work with the momentum and joy and excitement. So to have the best of both worlds, we start with the candles and we sing “Silent Night” and then we build, we build excitement and energy and joy. And we celebrate. We celebrate that God took on human form in a tiny, helpless, baby boy, born in a stable and laid in a manger.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions about why I changed the order of worship for the Christmas Eve Service. And I so hope you’ll join us for worship this Christmas Eve, to experience the waiting, the anticipation, the excitement, the joy, and the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!

Your Sister in Christ,

~Pastor Megan


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