Christmas – A Season of Wonder

Christmas 2016

5:00 PM Christmas Eve (A festive service for all ages)
We are pleased this year to have the Albany Consort playing with our worship. 
They will also be playing before worship beginning at 4:45
10:00 AM Christmas Day (We gather early for hot cider and cookies)
10:00 AM, January 1, the Sunday in Christmas (The celebration continues)
10:00 AM, January 8, the Sunday of the Epiphany (The visit of the Magi)

The Wonder and the Mystery

A reflection from Pastor Bonde

Christmas morning when the girls were young we got up early, of course. First we had to take a picture – a tradition from my childhood where we all sat on the stairs while Mom went down with the camera. (I figured out later she was also checking to be sure Santa had gotten everything right during those wee hours of the night when presents were still being wrapped and bicycles assembled.) The picture was harder to do when we moved to a house without stairs.

We would begin by emptying our stockings and opening the little presents there. By then the coffee was ready and we would have orange juice and Swedish Coffee Bread as we began to open presents.
We never got all the presents opened before it was time to stop and get dressed for church. But this was never an interruption in our Christmas morning – it was our Christmas morning. We went from presents, to the cookies and cider and sweetness of the Christmas Day service, then back home to finish opening presents. It was all wrapped together, gifts to one another, gifts from God to us in the Christ child, shared sweetness at home and with the larger family of the congregation.

On Anna’s first Christmas, she was overwhelmed by the gifts of all the grandparents (she was the first grandchild). She lost interest and became preoccupied with a box after the first few gifts, so we ended up opening some each day. It grew into a tradition of the Jule Nysse – the Christmas Elf. Apparently an old Scandinavian tradition was to leave milk in the rafters for the Nysse so they wouldn’t plague your house in the coming year. We turned it into a Nysse who would bring some little gift each of the twelve days of Christmas. They were usually simple things: new crayons, stickers, a game, a calendar for the new year – but it meant each morning began with

Weaving worship in with presents and extending the gifts over the twelve days – plus the fact that the girls were on vacation from school and I took days off (or worked from home) – stretched the days of Christmas out for us. This was when we had time to make cookies. This was the time for watching holiday movies. This was the time to play in the snow and come in for hot chocolate. It was a true holiday/holy days.

And they were holy days because Christ was the central axis of that time. It began with worship and ended with worship and turned around the nativity story. From Christmas Eve through the Epiphany, it was not about gifts but about giving. It was not about us but the wonder of the incarnation – that God has become a part of life, that Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us”.