Is it my imagination, or was the Christmas season a lot simpler way back when I was a kid? Oh, I’m guessing every generation has said that. I’m also guessing that, long after I’m gone, the younger generations will look back and say, “Boy it was so much simpler back when we just had ordinary smart phones and 70” 4K HDR Smart LED UHD TV’s”. I believe every generation remembers their childhood with fond memories, especially when it comes to Christmas time.

I remember laying in my bed, in a room I shared with my brother, and looking out the window at the colorful lights my Dad has hung on the roof. These weren’t the teeny, tiny miniature lights that went out whenever someone breathed on them. I speak as one who has had too many of these strands of lights go out on the Christmas tree and has spent far too much time shaking and trying to find the Devil light that is the source of the problem. No, these were the great big colorful lights that got pretty hot, and most likely were a fire hazard. But we didn’t care, they were just beautiful to look at. I fell asleep just gazing out the window and taking in all the wonder of this magical time of the year.

I reality, the true Christmas story isn’t all that magical. It’s the story of a poor migrant family, forced to travel a long distance to fulfill the requirements of an oppressive government. It’s the story of a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy having to endure a long journey, pondering all that had happened to her in these last months. It was a time of hopeful expectation and confusion at the same time, for both Mary and Joseph. It is a story of a homeless couple, trying to find a suitable place for their baby to be born and being forced to find shelter in a dank, dark stable. It is the story of that same couple later forced to flee in fear for their child, immigrants on the run from their oppressors.

No, the Christmas story as proclaimed in the gospels is neither magical or pretty. And yet, there is something so wondrous, so beautiful that speaks to the human heart and gives us hope. There is a wonderful expectation that this little child who came into the chaos, in the darkness of our world. He came for you and me and every sinner who needs to know they our loved unconditionally, they are forgiven and are able see through the confusion and find hope.

And so, this Christmas season, I pray for the immigrant who travels a long way to find shelter far from oppressive forces. I pray for the man or woman living out on the streets of Springfield, uncertain of where their next meal will come from. I pray for the teenager who is seeking to find a place to “fit in”, a place of shelter in their confusing times. I pray for the meth addict who finds the world so dark that they need a dangerous drug to cope. And I pray for each of you. May you, may we all, find hope and joy in this precious little baby who came to show us all a way out of the dark and into the light of God’s love. Oh, what a Savior!

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Jeff


P.S. I hope you will make a special effort to celebrate this precious child with us throughout the Advent and Christmas season, and especially when we gather on Christmas Eve.