An ecumenical Christmas this year! Christmas Eve found us at a large Lutheran parish here in the Midwest where we have a home. They’ve just completed a huge new worship space which was filled to capacity with a congregation there to hear and watch children’s choirs sing the songs of Christmas.
The “message” was brought by three young pastors acting out a well done skit about searching in all the wrong places for the Light of the World until finding the Babe “tabernacling” right in their very camp site all the time. Lots of young families and energetic singing with the words to the carols projected on a non-intrusive panel high above, and to the left of, the sanctuary.
But no Eucharist (at this service…they had two others on Christmas Eve). So, Christmas morning was celebrated at a traditional Episcopal parish in town. About 60 people there, mostly older but a few young couples and singles. Rite One, traditional carols, all in a nicely done service leaflet.
The young curate preached about how we might have expected the Messiah to be born in a palace, after the centuries of preparation for his birth, but instead he came in a lowly manger. The point for us? That God comes to us in the simple, ordinariness of our lives, our loves and our work — if we but have eyes to see.
I could have been in the parish of my youth, say 1963. The east facing Altar, the traditional language, the Healey Willan Sanctus, and all the rest of it. I’m not sure how all that is preparing folks for the “real world” or the “real church” of today. But, the Story was told, the Sacrament received, and God’s Name was praised.
And I was blessed in both worship experiences. And, in very different ways, was brought “good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for unto (us) today is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”