Tomorrow is December 31, 2016, the last day of the year. I send my sincere hopes that you are having a lovely Christmas season—restful, peaceful, and full of love.
We’ve had a wonderful Advent and Christmas Eve at the church, with the baptism of Henley Elizabeth Thorn on December 10, our hugely successful Christmas Concert on December 16, the delightful children’s Christmas Pageant on December 17, and the three joyful services on Christmas Eve at 5:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. At the later services, we dimmed the lights, lit our candles, and sang Silent Night. As we sang, the sanctuary gradually filled with light from our candles—symbolizing the light of Christ coming into the world.
I thank everyone who contributed to our Advent and Christmas celebrations in any way—decorating the sanctuary, providing gifts in memory or honor of loved ones, planning a service, participating in the concert, singing in a choir, playing an instrument, reading Scripture, handing out bulletins or candles, helping with the pageant, setting up, cleaning up, or helping in another way. You helped make for a spirit-filled and joyful month of worship and music for so many members and visitors.
Now we turn our attention to tomorrow’s service and to the New Year. I pray that 2018 will be a year when joy outweighs heartache, fears don’t come to fruition, and our deepest hopes are realized.
As we are in the season of Christmastide, we continue singing Christmas music. Our hymns tomorrow are The First Noel, Go Tell It On the Mountain and Good Christian Friends Rejoice. The Choir will be singing A New Year Carol and Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow.
During the week before Christmas I heard a wonderful version of Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow. As I listened to it, I felt prompted to look at the shepherds for my sermon tomorrow. I don’t know that I’ve ever really focused on those who heard the angels sing “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace.” We’ll read again the familiar words from Luke 2:8-20 that report on the message the shepherds received and their response to the angelic message.
Remember that here is no Sunday School tomorrow.
Even though tomorrow night may be a late night for some (either ringing in the New Year with celebration, or, through sheer determination, managing to stay up to watch the ball drop in Times Square), I hope to see you tomorrow morning. I can think of no better way to end one year and begin another than being in church with friends and family.
I send this last Saturday morning email of 2017 with gratitude for the blessings and riches of this last year, and with every good wish and highest hopes for 2018.